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Michael Jackson sued by 'Thriller' director John Landis

January 27, 2009 | 10:06 pm

A day after the announcement that the Nederlander Organization has acquired rights to produce a musical version of Michael Jackson's "Thriller" comes legal uncertainty for fans looking forward to a Broadway-style version of the epochal 1983 "Dawn of the Dead" meets "Soul Train" music video.

Turns out that the 14-minute mini-film's director and co-writer John Landis -- the movie comedy maestro behind "Animal House," "The Blues Brothers" and "An American Werewolf in London" -- filed court papers last Wednesday suing Jackson's company, Optimum Productions, for breach of contract. (You can see them reprinted here courtesy of thewrap.com.) At issue: Landis alleges that the King of Pop has been bilking him out of profits from "Thriller" and its accompanying "making of" documentary since 2005.

Among the complaint's accusations:

* That Jackson/Optimum Productions concealed profits made from "Thriller" and the documentary

* That Jackson failed to pay Landis his fare share -- 50% of the video and documentary's net profits as stipulated by a 1983 contract -- over the last four years

* "fraudulent, malicious and oppressive conduct" toward Landis by Jackson and his minions

Confounding matters, no legal representative for Jackson has come forward so far. But a mysterious Angeleno physician named Tohme Tohme (seriously, you can't make this stuff up) "appears to have taken charge of the singer's business and legal affairs" says The Wrap.

-- Chris Lee

Photo credit: MJJ Productions