August 09, 2012

By JOHN CARUCCI | Associated Press

 

NEW YORK (AP) — Pounding out the details of his personal life on a Broadway stage doesn’t seem to faze Mike Tyson. The former heavyweight champ says that’s what’s used to doing, “and at least now I don’t have to go to hospital every time.”

The 46-year old Tyson is appearing in the one-man show, “Mike Tyson Undisputed Truth.” Directed by Spike Lee, the nearly two-hour show chronicles Tyson’s life from childhood and his early boxing career to his public divorce from Robin Givens and his time spent in prison. He even talks about an incident with Brad Pitt.

“I’m just joking and stuff. I’m not mad at anyone. I hope he gives me a damn job,” Tyson said when asked about the incident. The boxer spoke to The Associated Press Thursday, the same day as the show’s opening.

Lee chimed in: “He asked for a job.”

Lee, famous for chronicling stories about Brooklyn in such films as “Crooklyn,” “She’s Gotta Have It,” and the upcoming “Red Hook Summer,” feels this work adds nicely to collection.

“You can’t get more Brooklyn than Mike Tyson. And if you remember the film, ‘Do the Right Thing,’ the great Robin Harris (playing Sweet Dick Willie) had many references to Mike. And the side of Sal’s Famous Pizzeria we painted a mural, Brooklyn’s Finest: Mike Tyson, so this is history,” Lee said.

While Tyson’s life has been tumultuous at times, the boxer says he can deal with telling intimate details to a room full of strangers simply because “it’s a job to be done.”

“Even though it’s real, it’s not real. It’s an illusion,” Tyson says.

Parent Category: Lifestyle
Category: Arts & Culture

August 09, 2012

By LINDA DEUTSCH | Associated Press

 

LOS ANGELES (AP) — TJ Jackson was one of Michael Jackson’s favorite nephews. An heir to the family’s musical talent and striking good looks, he is the son of Tito, one of the original Jackson Five. Largely unknown to the American public until now, he has been anointed as co-guardian of Michael’s most prized treasures — his three children.

Suddenly, TJ is the chosen Jackson, the one designated to work beside Michael’s mother to look after the welfare of his three cousins Prince, 15, Paris, 14 and Blanket,10, who will inherit the King of Pop's fortune.

He’s stepping into a sensitive situation just days after a family feud went viral. But he appears to have only one interest at heart — the children.

“He has been very dedicated to these kids since Michael Jackson’s death and he was involved with them before that,” TJ’s lawyer, Charles A. Schultz, said at a Thursday court hearing.

Superior Court Judge Mitchell Beckloff, who appointed TJ to work with Katherine Jackson, said there is a strong bond between the 34-year-old T.J. and the children.

“They have a very significant relationship with TJ Jackson and they love him very much,” said the judge. “There are things about his past that the kids can relate to.”

Schultz agreed, saying outside court: “He had a loss early in his life of a close personal relative and they can identify with that.”

In 1994, six years after his parents divorced, TJ’s mother, Dolores, died in a drowning at her home swimming pool. Her boyfriend was later convicted of causing her drowning and was sentenced to 15 years in prison.

When Michael Jackson died in 2009, Dr. Conrad Murray was accused of causing his death and was convicted of manslaughter. He is currently serving a four-year prison term.

Now, three years after his death, Michael's children are at the center of a familial battle and TJ’s role has become even more important. Recently, Katherine Jackson was reported missing and Beckloff replaced her with TJ as the children’s guardian. Now she’s back, telling a story of having been held virtually incommunicado at a resort in Tucson, Ariz., unaware that she was the subject of a missing person’s report.

In the court hearing Thursday, with neither of the parties present, the judge ruled that TJ and Katherine will share guardianship on a temporary basis. The arrangement could be made permanent later.

Beckloff had appointed an investigator to look into the domestic situation at the suburban Calabasas mansion where the young Jacksons have been living with their 82-year-old grandmother.

The result was a glowing report: “It appears from the report that Katherine Jackson has done a wonderful job and cares about the children very much,” the judge said. “I think the kids are in terrific hands.”

No mention was made of the Jackson siblings who were at the center of a family dispute last week that broke into a public shouting match on the driveway of Katherine’s home. What one lawyer called “the chaos” ended with Jermaine Jackson calling for a truce.

TJ, who is movie star-handsome and has a band with his brothers called 3T, is named Tito Joseph for his father and grandfather. Always known as TJ, he appears to have emerged as a welcome stable force in the family.

When Paris began tweeting messages of distress over the temporary disappearance of her grandmother and the battles among Michael’s siblings, TJ tweeted to her: “I know it’s completely unfair for them to do this to you and your brothers. We will keep trying. I love you.” Added a second tweet: “Make your life an act of love.”

Thomas Mesereau Jr., the former attorney for Michael who knows the family, had high praise for TJ.

“I met him some time ago and he was a very nice young man, very mature and very sincere,” said Mesereau. “It appeared to me that Katherine thought very highly of him.”

But Mesereau said the current situation was unthinkable before Michael’s death.

“Three years ago, these children had a father who loved them and gave them a wonderful upbringing,” the attorney said. “He wanted them to be highly educated, to learn about the world and the wonders of nature. It’s very tragic.”

TJ’s devotion to his uncle, Michael, has been evident. At his funeral, members of the family provided loving tributes in a glossy program. TJ’s entry read: “You taught me how to smile. You taught me how to dream. You taught me how to live. Uncle Michael, I will always cherish all of our special moments and blissful time together. I love you so much.”

Michael’s ties to TJ and his two brothers was confirmed by his will, which named them among “contingent remainder” beneficiaries, who usually gain if the main beneficiaries pass away.

Like most of the Jacksons, TJ has lived among celebrities. The Internet was ablaze this week with reports that he was the first lover of Kim Kardashian when both were in high school. There was no comment from TJ but he has acknowledged that they were close and she consoled him when his mother died.

“We became extra close when my mom passed away,” TJ told People magazine in 1995 of Kardashian. “She dropped everything to be with me.”

TJ married his wife, Frances, in 2007 and has three children.

When he and his brothers, Taj and Taryll, formed 3T, they were encouraged by their uncle, Michael, who sang with them on their first records, The 3T group had significant success in Europe with three songs that reached No. 2 on British charts. Two of them, “Why” and “I Need You,” released in 1996, featured Michael Jackson’s voice.

In 2010, the 3T group reprised Jackson’s “We Are the World” with various famous voices to benefit Haiti relief efforts. The brothers also have appeared on reality TV shows with other members of the Jackson clan and have toured overseas.

Last October, the family staged a tribute concert to Michael in Cardiff, Wales. But typically, the Jacksons were divided over whether it was appropriate to hold such a tribute during the Murray trial in Los Angeles. Janet, Jermaine and Randy stayed away. Jackie, Marlon, La Toya and Tito performed. So did TJ and his brothers.

Parent Category: Lifestyle
Category: Arts & Culture

August 02, 2012

By JONATHAN LANDRUM Jr. Associated Press

 

Kirk Franklin, Marvin Sapp, Donnie McClurkin and Israel Houghton believe if they collectively raise their voices high enough, believers will come in droves. And Live Nation is banking on it.

The four gospel superstars feel confident entering the upcoming King’s Men tour, the first gospel concert tour backed by Live Nation Inc., the world’s largest concert promoter. The concert series will be the first step toward proving the genre can broaden its fan base and become a lucrative business for the promotional company.

“The hope is that the tour does so well that the demand continues to grow,” Houghton said in a recent interview. “I think if we play it right, and executed it the way we hope, it's going to be a game changer.”

The 16-city tour kicks off Sept. 16 in Phoenix. Franklin views it as an opportunity to pave the way for other top gospel acts. As a follow-up to King's Men, he hopes there will be an all-women gospel tour that'll include acts such as Mary Mary and Yolanda Adams.

“This tour is an extension of all (our) sacrifice and hard work,” he said. “It’s an extension of the Fred Hammonds, the Commissioned. ... It’s important that everybody sees us as an extension of them. The success of this will continue to open up those doors to celebrate those men, ladies and daughters of the King’s Men tour.”

Franklin assembled the team of gospel's heavyweight singers to join him, and then approached Live Nation with the idea of the King’s Men tour. He invited one of the company's executives to attend the recent Stellar Awards with him.

That’s all Franklin needed to hook Live Nation, and everything else fell into place.

“I saw how amazing the emotional side of gospel is,” said Kevin Morrow, the senior vice president of touring at Live Nation and a former manager for gospel group The Blind Boys of Alabama. “I had forgotten how unbelievably great the singers are in gospel. I went back and told everyone else at Live Nation that we need to get in business with them.”

Morrow said he was impressed by the different elements of musical talent the self-proclaimed “King’s Men” bring to the table. He was attracted by McClurkin’s smooth crooning, Frank­lin’s ability to mesh a hip-hop melody with gospel as a producer and choir director, Sapp’s soaring voice and Houghton’s jazzy rock presence.

“When you see those four guys together, the only thing you can compare them to in the rock world are the Traveling Wilburys,” Morrow said of the supergroup that included Bob Dylan, George Harrison, Jeff Lynne, Roy Orbison and Tom Petty. “With the King’s Men, these are four guys, four different parts of their lives with four different types of music. This just seems like the right time and the right movement for them and gospel.”

Morrow said the tour could lead to additional cities for the King’s Men. He said Live Nation also is looking into promoting gospel tours through House of Blues venues for up-and-coming artists in the genre. But it’s predicated on how well the King's Men tour packs venues in each city. Live Nation isn’t concerned how the tour will do in larger cities like Los Angeles and Houston, but will certainly keep a close eye on smaller markets like Tampa, Fla.; Hartford, Conn.; and Norfolk, Va. The cities for the tour were chosen based on the foursome’s strongest markets and their hometowns.

Sapp knows there are no guarantees. However, he feels optimistic that people from the gospel community will come out and support the tour.

“They are extremely loyal to the genre,” Sapp said. “This is our chance. This is our time to promote the King’s music to another level.”

Parent Category: Lifestyle
Category: Arts & Culture

August 02, 2012

By JONATHAN LANDRUM Jr. Associated Press

 

Jay-Z is taking another step into the pro basketball realm: The Grammy-winning rapper and minority owner of the Brooklyn Nets will serve as the executive producer for the coming “NBA 2K13” video game.

2K Sports announced the partnership with Jay-Z in July. The rapper, who designed the Nets new logo and color scheme, selected 24 songs for the soundtrack, and offered input for the game’s interactive in-game menus and other visual presentations.

Jay-Z said in a statement that his involvement was a “unique opportunity” to collaborate and help produce “NBA 2K13,” the latest installment of the best-selling basketball video game franchise. Last year’s game sold more than 5 million copies.

“This has been a unique opportunity to collaborate with 2K Sports and be a part of one of the best sports video games in history,” Jay-Z said. “NBA 2K13 will be the next evolution in sports and basketball culture, and I’m ready to usher in the new era of the franchise.”

Some of the songs featured on the game’s soundtrack are Jay-Z’s “Public Service Announcement,” Kanye West’s “Amazing,” Coldplay’s “Viva La Vida,” Roy Ayers’ “We Live in Brooklyn, Baby,” U2’s “Shove It,” Nas’ “The World is Yours” and an instrumental version of Meek Mill’s “Ima Boss.” Other music acts featured are Too Short, Eric B. and Rakim, The Hours, Phoenix, Puff Daddy and the Family, Daft Punk, Santigold, The Dirty Projectors, Justice and Mobb Deep.

“He’s been unbelievably involved,” said Jason Argent, vice president of marketing at Take-Two’s 2K Sports. “We’ve had hour-long sessions and his input has been super valuable. He put together an amazing job creating the soundtrack, and was very integral in the creative visual process of the game. He’s a true artist.”

The game, which will feature Kevin Durant, Derrick Rose and Blake Griffin on the front cover, is expected to go on sale Oct. 2.

Parent Category: Lifestyle
Category: Arts & Culture

August 02, 2012

By ANTHONY McCARTNEY Associated Press

 

More than three years after Michael Jackson’s death, his youngest brother continues to raise questions about the validity of the pop superstar’s will.

On Twitter and cable TV, Randy Jackson has called the five-page document signed in 2002 a fake. The one place he hasn't made the claims is a courtroom, where legal experts say he faces almost insurmountable hurdles to invalidate the will and stiff odds against ousting the men who run the lucrative estate.

In a recent letter, Randy Jackson and three of his siblings called on Jackson’s estate executors to resign and renewed claims that the will is a fake.

The letter states the family was too overwhelmed after the singer's death to meaningfully challenge the will that gave only family matriarch Katherine Jackson and Michael's three children — Prince, 15, Paris, 14, and Blanket, 10 — a stake in the estate.

“At that time we couldn’t possibly fathom what is so obvious to us now: that the Will, without question, it's Fake, Flawed and Fraudulent,” the letter originally signed by Randy, Jermaine, Janet and Rebbie Jackson states.

Recently, Jermaine Jackson rescinded his support for the letter and said it never should have been made public.

The delayed challenge likely dooms any effort to invalidate the will. Even if it was thrown out, it would not alter the stake received by the King of Pop’s three children, experts say and an appeals court has noted.

Randy Jackson has since posted on Twitter that he believes the estate is trying to isolate his mother to the detriment of her health. “It is my fear and belief, that they are trying to take my mother’s life,” Randy Jackson wrote last month.

The estate has denied the accusations. “We are saddened that false and defamatory accusations grounded in stale Internet conspiracy theories are now being made by certain members of Michael’s family whom he chose to leave out of his will,” it wrote in a statement.

Jermaine Jackson said he still has concerns about the estate’s operations but realizes “the way to address such matters is through the proper channels and via a private dialogue, not public conflict.”

Almost from the moment it was filed, the will has been a topic of controversy for some members of the Jackson family. The pop superstar’s father Joe Jackson attempted to get a stipend from the estate, but like his children, he was excluded from any share.

Katherine Jackson explored the possibility of challenging the executors and was given permission by a judge but settled before a full hearing was held.

The document is straightforward and simple, and many key provisions of how Jackson's estate is constructed are set out in a trust. That document has never been publicly released.

Many of the misgivings stem from the will's final page, which bears the signatures of three witnesses who claim Michael Jackson signed the document on July 7, 2002, in Los Angeles. Jackson’s family points out that the singer was in New York on that day, a point the Rev. Al Sharpton recently bolstered by showing video of the “Thriller” singer appearing with him at an event in Harlem that day.

“I don’t think that kind of extrinsic fraud would be enough to overturn the order admitting the will to probate,” said Marshall Oldman, a probate attorney who represented Peter Falk’s wife in a conservatorship proceeding.

He said the only valid argument of Jackson’s siblings is that they did not receive proper notice that their brother's will had been accepted into probate. Superior Court Judge Mitchell Beckloff accepted the will in November 2009. Any challenge would have had to been filed within four months, Oldman said.

The California 2nd District Court of Appeal noted in an October 2010 ruling against the singer’s father that the period to challenge the will had already expired. Even if the will were thrown out, the court noted, California law would require the estate to benefit Michael Jackson’s children.

“I don’t see how you come in three years later, and say, ‘oh, by the way, the will’s a fraud, a forgery, because he wasn’t in LA when he was purported to be,’ ” said Howard Klein, a probate attorney for nearly 50 years and partner in the Los Angeles firm Feinberg Mindel Brandt Klein & Kline. “It’s something that should have been brought up a long time ago.”

Randy Jackson, in comments on Twitter and to Sharpton on his MSNBC show, has repeatedly accused the estate’s executors of criminal conduct. Both Klein and Oldman said even if the executors were charged with wrongdoing, it wouldn’t open the door for more of Jackson’s relatives to gain access to the estate.

Jackson’s children are deemed his heirs without the will, and a 1997 version lodged with the court but never publicly released also doesn’t name the singer’s siblings as beneficiaries of his estate.

Klein said even if Jackson or other siblings try to challenge the document, their bid would likely be rejected because it is too late. The judge could also rule, as he did against family patriarch Joe Jackson, that because he isn’t a beneficiary of the will, he isn’t entitled to contest it.

“It would be a tough sell,” Klein said of any effort by another Jackson relative to challenge the will now.

The executors recently informed a judge that there have been $475 million in gross earnings for the estate since Michael Jackson died in June 2009 from an overdose of the powerful anesthetic propofol. Jackson died with more than $500 million in debts, and the earnings have been used to repay many of the singer’s creditors and provide a spacious hilltop home for Katherine Jackson and the children along with private schooling, staff, security, vacations and other perks.

Katherine Jackson has requested and the estate is recommending approval of a nearly $35,000 a month increase in her stipend so she can retain her own attorney, accountant and homes in Indiana and Las Vegas, court filings show.

Parent Category: Lifestyle
Category: Arts & Culture

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