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Battle brewing over Michael Jackson's music empire

July 28, 2009 |  2:21 pm

In another sign that a battle is brewing over control of Michael Jackson’s music empire, attorneys for the late pop star’s mother filed court papers today accusing the temporary administrators of his estate of “keeping her in the dark” about the state of his affairs.

Attorneys for Katherine Jackson urged an L.A. County Superior Court judge to order the administrators, two longtime associates of her son, to submit to depositions and turn over a slew of documents, including the contract that controlled the comeback concert series scuttled by his death.

Such documents are “crucial to the question of the proper administration of the estate ... and the propriety of naming the temporary special administrators as permanent personal representatives of the estate,” lawyers for Katherine Jackson wrote.

Judge Mitchell Beckloff declined today to hold a special hearing on the request and instead added it to the array of issues to be taken up Monday, when lawyers are due in court to discuss the estate and permanent custody arrangements for Jackson’s three children.

Katherine Jackson, 79, was initially appointed temporary administrator of her son’s affairs, but the judge transferred that power to John McClain, a music executive, and John Branca, an entertainment attorney, after they produced a 2002 will naming them executors.

Beckloff is to address the validity of the will at the Monday hearing. In the meantime, he ordered McClain and Branca to seek Katherine Jackson’s opinion in any major business dealings.

In their filing, Katherine Jackson’s attorneys said Branca and McClain had refused to provide documents they requested or placed “cumbersome and unreasonable restrictions” on access to them.

A lawyer for Branca and McClain denied those allegations.

“Nothing could be further from the truth,” wrote lawyer Jeryll S. Cohen.

She said the “cornerstone” of Katherine Jackson’s complaint was her inability to view a contract between the concert promoter AEG Live and her son. The contract covered a planned series of 50 concerts in London as well as unspecified film projects between the L.A.-based promoter and Jackson.

In a separate filing, a lawyer for AEG said Katherine Jackson’s legal team had refused to sign a confidentiality agreement that, among other things, barred them from using the information contained in the contract in any legal process other than the probate court proceedings.

-- Harriet Ryan

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