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Unauthorized Michael Jackson bio: Remarkably timed

July 1, 2009 |  8:00 am

A Montreal publisher has incredible timing -- its unauthorized biography of Michael Jackson had just gone to the printer on June 24, the day before the pop singer's unexpected death. Publisher Pierre Turgeon halted the presses so author Ian Halperin could write a new ending, and the book, previously titled "Michael Jackson: Return from Exile" quickly became "Unmasked: The Final Years of Michael Jackson."

"Unmasked" is likely to be one of the first posthumous Michael Jackson biographies to hit shelves. There are rumors that an American publisher has already bought the U.S. rights.

According to a report in Quill & Quire, Turgeon's company, Transit Publishing, was launched sometime after the 2005 bankruptcy of his earlier house, Trait d'Union. In March of this year, Turgeon pleaded guilty to fraud charges in Quebec and was fined. He's also been found to owe a former partner $600,000. But since the new company is not connected to the old one, the partner says, "He is off the hook."

Ian Halperin has experience writing unauthorized bios of musicians, including "Celine Dion: Behind the Fairytale," "Who Killed Kurt Cobain?" and "Love & Death: The Murder of Kurt Cobain." He has claimed -- most recently on June 29 in a piece in the Daily Mail -- that Michael Jackson was dangerously thin and that he had a genetic condition that damaged his lungs, leaving him unable to sing.

-- Carolyn Kellogg

Photo: Rusty Kennedy / Associated Press