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ISSUES WITH JANE VELEZ-MITCHELL
Michael Jackson Dies of Heart Attack
Aired June 25, 2009 - 19:00:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
VINNIE POLITAN, GUEST HOST: Breaking news tonight, reports that King of Pop, Michael Jackson, has died. Paramedics rushed to his home after a 911 call. The pop star was apparently not breathing when they arrived, and CPR was performed on the spot. Members of the Jackson family reportedly rushed to be by his side at the UCLA Medical Center. A very sad night tonight.
Joining me to talk about all of this, Lisa Bloom, CNN legal analyst; Diane Dimond, syndicated columnist and author of "Be Careful Who You Love"; and by phone, our own Jane Velez-Mitchell, host of this program, ISSUES. But first I want to turn to Dax Holt from TMZ.
Dax, TMZ was reporting this early on today. Can you tell us what happened?
DAX HOLT, TMZ: Well, I can tell you that the ambulance was called to his house for a cardiac arrest. They arrived. He did not have a pulse. They administered CPR, and an ambulance continued down to the UCLA Medical Center. They could not revive him or get his pulse going.
And since then, family, friends, everyone has shown up at the hospital. We have pictures of Latoya running in. And not only friends and family have showed up, but 90 percent of his fans have also shown up. You can just see this massive sea of people showing up -- getting there. They had to put up blockades. It is a crazy scene.
And I was interested to see that a lot of the Star Line tours that go around and see the famous people`s homes, or interesting places out here has also started putting that on their route.
POLITAN: Going by the hospital. Do we have any idea what he was doing at the time? I know he was preparing -- was preparing for this concert series that he was going to try to do 50 concerts over in London. Any idea what he was doing at the time that he suffered his cardiac arrest?
HOLT: We do not know what he was doing at the time. Like you said he has been preparing for this big concert tour. Rumors were a couple weeks ago that he could not make it through an entire set, so they brought in the actor to help him out, and, you know, it could easily be a cause overstressing your body. He was a very frail, small man, so this could contribute to it.
POLITAN: All right. Let`s bring in Jane Velez-Mitchell, who is the regular host of this program, ISSUES WITH JANE VELEZ-MITCHELL.
Jane, when I think of Michael Jackson and what came to my mind today hearing this news is that there are really two Michael Jacksons. There`s the Michael Jackson that we knew growing up. There was the Michael Jackson, the iconic performer, the man who dominated the music scene in the `80s.
Then, there`s the other Michael Jackson, who I covered as a journalist, who you have covered as a journalist since the `90s, getting into lots of legal trouble and having problem after problem. Tell me what went through your mind today, Jane, when you heard news that Michael Jackson had suffered this cardiac arrest.
JANE VELEZ-MITCHELL, HOST (via phone): I found it very surreal, almost like a dream. He was 50 years old. So he dominated the last half century of our lives in so many ways. His music was everywhere. And his controversies were everywhere.
And while we saw the good side, we also saw the dark side. Yes, he endured two child molestation scandals, one in 1993 that was settled, the other one just a couple of years ago that ended in a stunning acquittal on all accounts out of Santa Maria, California.
But there was this duality. There was the innocent little boy, who was the Peter Pan, who never grew up. And then there was the dark side that many said was -- was sinister. The fact is, he was acquitted in the criminal trial, and the fact is that he had many, many other troubles. I mean, his troubles were legendary. His money troubles, which I think contributed to his death.
Frankly, I think that he was forcing himself to perform to try to come up with the money, the money to solve his financial problems. He was going to get $50 million out of this concert tour. So he forced himself and pushed himself.
It wasn`t so long ago that he had to transfer Neverland`s ownership to the Sycamore Valley Ranch Company, which is a joint venture with him and somebody else, but essentially, he lost the entire hold on Neverland, which was his baby. He wanted that. And I think that didn`t happen so long ago. That had to be really debilitating to him.
And so he is trying, trying -- trying anything to not only stay in the public eye, which is where his self-esteem came from as a performer. But also, he`d get the money to solve his money problems, because he spent money so wildly. Remember during the Martin Bashir documentary, seeing him go into a store in Las Vegas and buy everything, everything -- one after another.
POLITAN: And this is -- and this is a guy who at one time was the King of Pop, was bigger than life. But it`s been more than ten years, hasn`t it, Jane, since we`ve seen him on a stage performing? There`s not new music coming out. And it -- I agree with you that it was -- it had to be the overwhelming stress of being on the top and then trying to stay there when, you know, pop music and pop culture, you know, you have your moment and then, you know, that moment doesn`t last forever.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: But if you`re a star whose entire self-esteem is based on being a star, and you don`t have anything else but that -- and I`m not saying that`s him, but I`m saying that he obviously was quite obsessed with his stardom -- you always come for the comeback. You always try to come back. This is an old Hollywood story as old as show business itself. And unfortunately, it quite often has tragic endings. And this is a tragic ending. This is an American tragedy.
POLITAN: All right. Unbelievable. Lisa Bloom is with us, as well.
Lisa, you and I, together, we watched and saw Michael Jackson on trial. We saw him show up to a courthouse wearing pajama pants on another stressful day in his life when his accuser was going to testify against him. What`s your reaction today?
LISA BLOOM, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, you`re right, Vinnie, and that`s what I thought of when I heard this very sad news, and my heart and condolences go out to his fans, his friends, and certainly his family, as well.
Michael Jackson admitted himself in a 2007 deposition that he was sometimes impaired by prescription drugs. He admitted to at least one rehab, but it was sort of known among reporters who covered Michael Jackson over the years that he certainly appeared to have a problem with prescription drugs. He was hospitalized, as you say, a few years ago during his latest criminal case.
He also appeared frail, even anorexic at times. He weighed 100 pounds. You know, this is a man who made choices in his life that had serious negative consequences for his health.
POLITAN: All right, Diane Dimond, you know Michael Jackson. No one has covered Michael Jackson like you have, Diane. First of all, I want to get your reaction to hearing this news today. Was it shocking? Was it surprising to you that Michael Jackson today reportedly dying of a cardiac arrest?
DIANE DIMOND, AUTHOR, "BE CAREFUL WHO YOU LOVE": Well, no. I wasn`t surprised. I always expected that I would outlive him, simply because of the way he lived his life. He never treated his body right. Lisa has talked a little bit about that at the trial.
We heard testimony that there were countless narcotic prescription drugs in his night stand. His Neverland Valley Ranch servants always talked about how he seemed impaired and that they delivered so much wine to his room every night. And so I think that I wasn`t surprised that he was dead.
But I must tell you, I`ve covered this man. Somehow our two lives became inextricably linked. Me the journalist, him the superstar under criminal scrutiny. And I`m kind of numb. I have to admit, I am kind of numb.
And when I first heard cardiac arrest, may I be honest with you? I thought to myself, hmm, these concerts are 18 days away in London. Hmm, he`s already put them off by a week because he had skin cancer removed from his nose last week. Hmm, maybe this is his way as saying, "I have to move those concerts back again." You know, I`m a cynical journalist, and that did cross my mind.
POLITAN: Sure. You know, Diane...
DIMOND: Then I ended up making phone calls, and I realized exactly what happened. He was with -- I`m told he was with his father, Joe, who he was never very close to. I was surprised he was with his father Joe this morning and another family friend at his home. I`m told that he was stricken there. Those two people tried to minister to him. He was unresponsive and then they finally called an ambulance.
And I`m told by sources very, very close to the family that the family knew early this morning, as early as 10 a.m. this morning that Michael Jackson was dead. And they all rushed from their various locations. He has a sister in Las Vegas, for example. When the ambulance came, I am told that he was already cold to the touch.
POLITAN: All right, Jane Velez-Mitchell. Today, again, Michael Jackson dying from a cardiac arrest, according to reports.
As we -- as we sit here today, and we think about Michael Jackson, what does the legacy really become for Michael Jackson? Because again, I`m thinking of two different guys. What are people, you think, Jane, going to remember? Are they going to remember that guy in the courtroom, the guy who was frail at the end, or are they going to remember the guy who performed at that Motown anniversary concert, an iconic performance, you know, a big, big moment in our pop culture history.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: I think they`re going to remember the music. I think they`re going to remember the amazing songs that we all grew up with. "ABC," "Thinking About You and Me," "Billy Jean," "Thriller," "Black or White," "Bad," "Got to be There," "Rockin` Robin," "Rock with You," "Don`t Stop Till You Get Enough," "She`s Out of My Life." That`s what we`re going to remember, and we`re going to remember the moon walk.
I think it`s -- the best tribute that we can give to Michael Jackson is to remember what he brought to this world that was good. And that`s what he brought to this world that was good. He did have his problems. He had his demons. I don`t think anybody would doubt that. But let`s remember, now that he`s passed away, the good things.
And let`s also put all of his behavior in context. Diane Dimond talked about not being close with his father. That`s the understatement of the year. Even though his father was there for him for the criminal trial, and it appeared they had reconciled, his life story is about the abuse that he suffered, reportedly at his father`s hands when he was a kid.
His father, probably well-intentioned, trying to make him a star, subjected him to mental and physical abuse, according to most reports, incessant rehearsals and beatings. And so this child was broken, spiritually and emotionally. And he was horribly fragile at an early age. And all the pain and the suffering that you hear in his songs when he sings "Ben," that`s from that suffering. That`s what made him a great artist.
But it also created the problems that surfaced in later life, where he tried to hang on, in so many unhealthy ways, to the innocence of childhood that he never experienced, because he was forced to be a performer from day one. This story is so compelling, because it is such a tragedy on so many levels, and yet, he achieved so much despite all that.
POLITAN: Yes, at age 50, Michael Jackson, reports that he has died, ladies and gentlemen.
Dax Holt from TMZ, describe for us this scene out there now in Los Angeles at the hospital, at his home. This is a guy who was loved by millions and millions and millions of fans. And I have to believe that this is going to be an incredible gathering and an incredible mourning for Michael Jackson.
HOLT: Yes, the hospital is just filled with people out on the front lawns right now. And I don`t see any of them leaving. I picture tonight being a candle vigil -- candlelight vigil. More people showing up. The streets of Hollywood just flooding with his fans, to commemorate his lifelong achievements.
And, you know, I really do think, just listening to everyone talk, that this is a big stress thing, having people constantly suing you, getting ready for a big tour, not having any money in the bank. That takes a toll on your heart.
POLITAN: Absolutely. Well, everyone sit tight. Much more on this truly shocking news. The King of Pop reportedly dead at age 50.
POLITAN: You`re looking at live pictures outside the UCLA Medical Center. Crowds gathering, all of Michael Jackson`s fans stunned tonight about reports that the King of Pop, Michael Jackson, has died.
Sources say Jackson suffered a heart attack this afternoon. Paramedics rushed to his home, but he was not breathing when they arrived. They took Jackson to the UCLA Medical Center where his friends and family rushed to his bedside.
Let`s go straight back to my panel. Jane Velez-Mitchell still with us, Diane Dimond, and Lisa Bloom.
Diane, Michael Jackson, this is a guy who has been bigger than big for so long. And you think about the pressure and the way that changes your life. On a day like today you think about Michael Jackson, and the first thought I had was, wow. Elvis Presley, as well, at age 42, he died tragically.
And I wonder what it`s like to be in that position where you are bigger than life. I mean, even, even as recent as his -- as his trial, he`s on top of an SUV dancing.
DIMOND: I was just looking at that. I remember, I was there that day.
POLITAN: A different life for these people.
DIMOND: You know, I was sitting here thinking during the commercial break, Vinnie that Michael Jackson was once quoted as saying, "I will not live past the age of 40." He long talked about death. You can see it in some of his videos. He talks about it in his songs. He had a specter over his life that was Shakespearean. Jane used the word "tragedy." This was a fabulous life and a tragic life.
I write in my book about what his family put him through. And I say family because, while his father was the one with the Jackson 5 and the younger days on the road, really getting them started, his mother allowed this treatment.
And there were times he was passed through the hands of lots of men in lots of hotel rooms and smoke-filled areas that no 6-year-old, 7-year-old, 8-year-old boy should have ever been exposed to. And it haunted him. I think Michael Jackson, above everything else, was a haunted individual.
POLITAN: Angie Crouch also joins us now, investigative reporter in Los Angeles.
Angie, when you heard the news today of Michael Jackson, cardiac arrest, dead at the age of 50, what thoughts went through your mind?
ANGIE CROUCH, INVESTIGATIVE REPORTER: Absolutely shocking, as you can imagine. I live near UCLA Medical Center, and my contacts over at UCLA were very reluctant to release information about what was going on over there.
And keep in mind: UCLA Medical Center is the same hospital where Britney Spears was hospitalized not that long ago and put in the mental ward, and several employees there were fired for peeking at her medical records and releasing information to the public.
And of course, Michael Jackson, being a worldwide superstar, so much attention being placed on his coming to the hospital today. Officials there want to make sure they get all of their ducks in a row. And that may be why we`re seeing a delay in a press conference, an official statement coming out of UCLA this afternoon.
POLITAN: All right. Lisa Bloom, we`re about the same age, Lisa. We grew up listening to this music. And to see someone who has -- seemingly had it all. You know, he did. The fame, the money, the glory, the accolades, the talent that he was born with. And yet to see the way it all plays out, Lisa.
POLITAN: Is fame something that perhaps is a bit of a curse when you get to that level?
BLOOM: Well, and it often is for child stars. And the bigger the child star, the father they fall. Yes, you`re right, Vinny. We all tried to mimic those dance moves unsuccessfully.
POLITAN: Very unsuccessfully.
BLOOM: We all sang along with the songs. But we didn`t sound a tenth as good as Michael did. I mean, he was not just big. He was enormously talented. And yet, as Diane has put it, the demons, the demons in his adult life, or as I might put it, the choices that he made as an adult to live a somewhat unhealthy lifestyle, probably are what wore him down.
And I think the big story in the days to come is going to be exactly what the cause of death was. Yes, cardiac arrest, but what...
POLITAN: What led to that cardiac arrest?
BLOOM: What led to that? Was it a prescription drug issue? You mentioned Elvis. That was a drug issue. Let`s call these things what they are so our children know to make good choices in their lives.
POLITAN: Jane -- Jane...
DIMOND: Could I jump in real quick? I`m going to tell you right now. I`m going to make a prediction. Part of the contributing factor not only will be substance abuse to this death, but it will also be anorexia. I was so taken during the trial and in times since then to see Michael Jackson. He eats one meal a day, if even that, according to the staff at Neverland.
DIMOND: And he is -- he was pencil thin. I remember Pajama Drama Day when there was an arrest warrant put out for him because he didn`t come to court, and he arrived from the hospital in his jammies. And I looked at him. I was outside, one of two pool reporters, and I watched him walk in and I thought how is he standing up?
POLITAN: How is he standing? So thin, so frail.
POLITAN: Everyone sit tight. Again, Michael Jackson, at age 50, dead today, cardiac arrest. Mourners gathering outside that UCLA Medical Center.
POLITAN: Breaking news tonight, reports that Michael Jackson has died. Fifty-year-old Jackson reportedly suffered a cardiac arrest this afternoon. The pop star was about to mount a career comeback with 50 sold- out concerts in London. That`s not going to happen, folks. Dead at age 50.
Joining us now to talk about all of this, Dr. Goldberg, cardiologist.
Dr. Nieca Goldberg, thanks so much for joining us. We still have with us, of course, Diane Dimond, Lisa Bloom, and Angie Crouch, as well. Doctor, when we say cardiac arrest, what does that mean?
DR. NIECA GOLDBERG, CARDIOLOGIST: It means the sudden collapse of heart function. Your heart stops pumping, and there are many reasons that can cause the heart to stop pumping.
The most common is not a heart attack, but a chaotic or rapid heart rhythm. Another cause is a heart attack. And we have to remember that Michael Jackson was a 50-year-old man, and that is, 50-year-old men, that`s a very common time for a man to have a heart attack.
POLITAN: Anyone who is that thin and that frail? What role could that play to cardiac arrest? Someone who is that frail?
GOLDBERG: Well, thin and frail, I think in the last segment actually Diane hit on two things that I was thinking about. And that`s -- it could be someone who has anorexia because when you purge you have an electrolyte imbalance that can cause a cardiac arrest.
POLITAN: Now, the reports are that -- is that when 911 was called, he`s not breathing. There`s no pulse. At that point, how much time does someone have to be saved if you`ve suffered a cardiac arrest?
GOLDBERG: If you`re -- if you have a sudden collapse, we`re talking about a minute.
POLITAN: Just a minute?
GOLDBERG: You know, about a minute, a couple of minutes. Because basically, there is loss of blood supply to the brain and the rest of the body. And that`s why people go into a coma, because there`s just no blood flow to the brain.
It sounds as though that 911 was called, and they got there as quickly as possible, and people were performing CPR on the way to the hospital. We have to remember that, even in the best circumstances, only about 10 percent of people survive cardiac arrest out of the -- outside in the community.
POLITAN: Breaking news tonight, folks, if you`re just joining us, Michael Jackson dead at age 50, suffering from a cardiac arrest. You can see fans are gathering outside the UCLA Medical Center, as we speak, mourning the death of Michael Jackson.
More breaking news on the way. The King of Pop is dead at 50. Back in a minute.
POLITAN: Michael Jackson dead at age 50 this morning.
There`s a live shot outside UCLA Medical Center. Fans showing up there, showing their love, their admiration for the "King of Pop" and that`s a scene that you`re going to see that just grow and grow over the next several days, folks.
Michael Jackson has died at age 50, suffering a cardiac arrest at his home, pronounced dead at the UCLA Medical Center. Michael Jackson, though, is survived by his three children. And that`s something I`d like to talk about right now.
Diane Dimond, Lisa Bloom, Angie Crouch are still with us. Also Dr. Nieca Goldberg and Brenda Wade, a clinical psychologist joins us as well.
Diane, I`d like to go to you on the children.
DIANE DIMOND, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: I`m so glad you`re bringing this topic up.
POLITAN: Michael Jackson has three children, now they don`t have a father.
DIMOND: And you know, I`m so glad you`re bringing this topic up because for me, my interest has always been about the children covering Michael Jackson. These are not his biological children. All right, let`s be clear about that.
He had a wife, Debbie Rowe who gave him two of them. The third one Blanket, the one we saw dangle over the balcony in Germany at one point, we don`t know exactly who his mother is, but these children have lived such a cloistered life. They go out with masks on; they lead a very solitary life by virtue of the fact of who their father was.
And so now, what happens to them? They know their grandmother very well. Michael Jackson was always very close with his mother. But they don`t know the rest of the family and they don`t have a lot of friends, they didn`t go to school. They had tutoring in the house.
So I`m very concerned about the welfare of those three children.
POLITAN: Now, Lisa Bloom, how about from a legal perspective you`ve got the children of Michael Jackson, there`s no real mom in the picture really. What happens to these children? Do you see this being, perhaps, a big battle to find out who takes care of these three little ones?
LISA BLOOM, ANCHOR, "IN SESSION": Right, well, normally the law would give the children to the biological mother...
BLOOM: ...but if for whatever reason she`s not part of the picture, doesn`t want to be part of the picture or at this point hasn`t had a significant relationship with them, then most likely they`re going to stay with Michael Jackson`s family members who if they want to raise them will probably take them in and raise them.
And it is a question, of course, of Michael Jackson`s estate, how much money is in that estate, how much is left behind to provide for those children. These are all going to be the questions swirling around this case in the weeks to come.
POLITAN: Absolutely. Brenda Wade is with us, clinical psychologist. I want to talk to you a little bit about the kids. But also, I remember when Elvis Presley passed away at age 42 when I was a young man -- a young boy actually.
And I remember the reaction of those fans and the way they had to deal with it. And to this day they still go there to pay their respects and they are still affected by the death of someone like this.
The same thing, I believe, is going to happen with Michael Jackson because his fans love him, love him. He is their life. How do they deal with this?
BRENDA WADE, CLINICAL PSYCHOLOGIST: You know, it`s going to be tough to deal with the grief. And everyone whether you`re rich or poor, whether you`re middle class, everyone has been touched at some point in their lives by loss. And when we face a loss first there`s the shock, I heard earlier when Ms. Dimond was saying, "My God, I feel numb."
Numbness is the first stage as a rule of grieving and then there`s a sense of disbelief. Then we have a sense of anger. Sometimes people go back and forth saying "it can`t be so, it can`t be so." And then we finally come around after a lot of processing -- it doesn`t happen overnight -- to a sense of acceptance and making peace.
Now, for Michael`s fans to accept and make peace, we have to be able to connect the dots and put the puzzle of this man together. And I once did a program for "Good Morning America," where they asked me to answer the question what is wrong with Michael Jackson?
And I can tell you in one sentence. The answer to that question lies in an interview that he did with Oprah Winfrey when he said you know, "Oprah, when I was a little boy, I used to look out of the window at other children playing and I would think to myself, I wonder how that would feel."
And that is the key to Michael Jackson`s psychology that he never had a childhood. And on top of it...
WADE: ...suffered abuse which led to all of the difficulties with addiction we`ve talked about.
WADE: The food addiction, the alcohol, the drugs and the money addiction because there is a money addiction.
POLITAN: And the addiction to fame...
POLITAN: ...the addiction to being the "King of Pop." Jane Velez- Mitchell is...
WADE: Yes, well, he has no other identity. No other identity.
POLITAN: Yes, Jane Velez-Mitchell is with us, as well.
Jane, Michael Jackson`s children, those three children, I see them being the focal point of this entire saga as it plays out. What do you think is going to happen to those three children?
JANE VELEZ-MITCHELL, HLN ANCHOR: I`m actually very worried about it because, unfortunately, they have lived in a world surrounded by so much cynicism that it`s often about the money. And I am worried that there is no money. I think that`s one of the reasons why he was so desperate to do this concert that he wasn`t physically prepared to do because he needed the $50 million that he expected to earn.
Remember, that his ace in the hole was the Beatles catalog, which he constantly drained. And so he was in a financial crisis and everybody always said, oh, it`s going to be the end and it never was quite the end.
And I think he got himself, the road gets narrower. He got himself into a jam and with the tons of lawsuits, with the overspending. He did have to transfer ownership of "Neverland" to something called the Sycamore Valley Ranch Company which apparently is a joint ownership between Jackson & Colony Capital but essentially, he didn`t own it outright himself any more.
And then he had devastated and decimated the Beatles catalog. So where was he getting his money from? And without money, who is going to care about these kids?
I honestly believe that their grandmother will care about them, but there may be others who want to use them for cynical motivations to try to make a buck off of them. And I feel that they could become the center of some kind of major tug-of-war. And there`s Debbie Rowe and who knows what her agenda is after all these years.
BLOOM: That`s a very good point.
POLITAN: It`s a great point.
Yes, everything you`re talking about, Jane, the whole situation with money and needing to borrow money and the stress involved, Dr. Nieca Goldberg, I wanted to ask you about this stress factor here, can stress lead to a cardiac arrest? What role can that play in all of this?
DR. NIECA GOLDBERG, CARDIOLOGIST: Stress alone doesn`t lead to a cardiac arrest. Usually a person has some underlying problem and just the stress adds to that problem and then the person has the cardiac arrest, or a heart attack.
So either someone has an arrhythmia; and there are people who have family predisposition to arrhythmia, genetic predisposition to arrhythmia, someone in the family has died suddenly. And a family usually gets screened for that.
Or somebody has a heart and muscle problem, like hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, a thickened heart muscle that can predispose somebody to a cardiac arrest.
And the other things that we discussed, stress, could that cause somebody to use drugs or alcohol or a combination or cocktail of things that can lead to a cardiac arrest? That`s a possibility too. And certainly stress is a minor contributor, but yet a contributor to someone having a heart attack.
Angie Crouch, investigative reporter is still with us, as well, out in L.A. and this is the type of story that, unfortunately, and I think we`re all thinking this could bring out some real ugliness, can bring out the worst in people.
You`re talking about Michael Jackson passing away and everything that he`s associated with and people are going to come out of the woodwork; everyone looking to get a piece of whatever is out there. Are you having that same feeling, Angie?
ANGIE CROUCH, INVESTIGATIVE REPORTER: That`s right. We can probably expect some more legal troubles to follow even after his death. One of the reports that`s coming out today, you know, Michael Jackson was set to sell- off many of his possessions in order to make up some of the debt that he had.
In fact, that`s why he was getting ready to do this London tour because he needed the money so badly. Investors stepped in and said don`t sell your belongings, we`ll provide the money and the tradeoff will be that he does this massive tour to earn the money.
So you can imagine the kind of stress he was under there and what kind of legal problems could come now after this.
POLITAN: Lisa Bloom, Michael Jackson and money problems. That`s a theme we`ve been hearing for years and years. And to think someone can sell that many millions of albums...
POLITAN: ...and come up with all that music, have these successful concerts, have the ability at any moment to go on tour and make millions and millions of dollars to have legal woes.
BLOOM: Well, you`re right Vinnie, and I can`t but help...
POLITAN: And money problems...
BLOOM: ...I can`t help but think of another major music industry figure who also had big legal problems and that`s Phil Spector who had fewer number one hits as a music producer and yet, great wealth towards the end of his days and just years ago before his latest trial and now he doesn`t have very much money left.
But the point is, Michael Jackson with 13 number one hits, a worldwide star, one of the biggest stars in the world, if not the biggest star in the world and always running out of money, beleaguered by lawsuits.
And we talk about that as though lawsuits are something that just happened to him rather again than his making choices in the business world that led people to say, "Hey, he didn`t pay me." I mean, there were dozens and dozens if not hundreds of people who were claiming that Michael Jackson refused to pay them, some of them chose to file lawsuits to get the money back. He gave depositions, to some of those lawsuits where he admitted to prescription drug issues.
So these are problems partly of his making, perhaps partly attributable to his abuse as a child. But he had all the money and all the resources in the world and he made choices in his adult life.
DIMOND: You know, Vinnie, I`ll tell you, when we covered the trial, Jane Velez-Mitchell, me and a whole hoard of other people, I was stunned to learn about his finances.
There was no stock portfolio, there were no big property apartment buildings, you know, office buildings. He put all of his money, almost the bulk of his money into "Neverland." And when you fly over it and you saw in its heyday the grounds and the train and the playground and every -- almost every cent he had went into "Neverland." And the other thing that he did wrong, we learned he mortgaged everything.
POLITAN: Mortgaged it all.
DIMOND: Yes, mortgaged it all.
POLITAN: And really relied upon that Beatles catalog.
POLITAN: Everyone, stay right there. We`ll have more breaking coverage of the out-of-nowhere death of Michael Jackson.
POLITAN: Tragic news tonight: Michael Jackson at age 50 has died. Reports say the "King of Pop" was pronounced dead this afternoon after suffering a cardiac arrest at his home. Attempts to revive Jackson were futile.
Straight back to my panel and joining us on the panel, Wendy Murphy, a former prosecutor and law professor. I want to go to you, Wendy, on this.
When you think of Michael Jackson and his children, Michael Jackson and his estate, his money, I know this is going to end up in a courtroom somewhere. Let`s talk first about Debbie Rowe, who is biological mother to a couple of the children.
What if she gave up her parental rights as a mother in some sort of a deal with Michael Jackson? Does she have any say in any of this? Will this be something that`s litigated in a courtroom? And does the money necessarily travel with the children?
WENDY MURPHY, FORMER PROSECUTOR: Well, that`s a tough question. Because one of the things that we know nothing about at this point, Vinnie, is what he wrote in his will and I guarantee you he has one.
He can literally designate who he wants to raise his children, in part because there is no mom involved and there`s no way any court would care what Debbie Rowe has to say. She treated those kids like a loaf of bread the way she sold them and then tried to squeeze more money out of the guy, when things got tough.
Now, I think a will, will tell us a lot about where the children go. It will probably tell us a lot about where most of the money goes to the extent there aren`t claims against the estate, there may not be a whole lot left for the kids.
But I would bet he would like his children to be raised probably by his mother. You know, I don`t know who else was close to him. I think what the other panelists have said about they didn`t have a lot of close contacts in terms of mom-like characters in their life. I think that probably tells us a lot about who Michael Jackson trusted with his children, which was not a lot of people.
POLITAN: Sure. Let`s bring in -- I want to bring in Brenda Wade, clinical psychologist on this issue of if there wasn`t anyone who was necessarily an adult who was close with these children other than Michael Jackson, who is best fit to take care of these children at this point?
WADE: This is a very difficult question. Because I would be worried, quite frankly, to have his family who did so much damage to him. His mother stood by and let him be abused by a father who his sisters have also said abused them.
So to say that the blood relatives in a case like this are best fitted, it would be tough. Normally I would say a family member. But that`s a very difficult call.
POLITAN: That`s a tough one.
Jane Velez-Mitchell, how about the family? What was the relationship? You know when we were out, when we saw the trial they would show up and support him. His sister Janet would show up, his mom, his dad, his brothers. What was the real relationship between Michael Jackson and the rest of the Jackson clan?
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, I think it was very complicated because he outshone them. Essentially, he started out as member of the Jackson Five and quickly became a much bigger star than all of them put together.
So I think there was a lot of sibling rivalry mixed in with love. Certainly they were there when push came to shove to support him during the criminal trial using their show business flare to essentially turn the trial into a bit of a farce. I mean, at one point they showed up in a giant Las Vegas-style bus and all walked out in matching white outfits essentially turning the entire trial into a Las Vegas show.
But they`re all very eccentric in their own right which befits a showbiz family. Latoya certainly quite eccentric and Janet quite a star, Randy Marl, I mean, they all have their own qualities, but you put them all together and they`re not as big as Michael Jackson alone.
I have to tell you, there`s some breaking news that we`re just getting just in at least into my Blackberry, the "Los Angeles Times" is saying that law enforcement sources are telling them that the Los Angeles Police Department robbery homicide detectives have opened an investigation into Michael Jackson`s death. Although they stress there`s no evidence of criminal wrong doing, the detectives according to the L.A. Times plan to interview relatives, friends and Jackson`s doctors to try to figure out exactly what happened.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: And of course, the coroner will have to determine a cause of death. But I see this as perhaps evolving into something a little bit more than an open and shut cardiac arrest case.
BLOOM: Well, Vinnie, if I may, remember Ana Nicole`s death.
POLITAN: Yes, absolutely.
BLOOM: There`s an investigation that`s being done into her doctors who gave her prescription medications knowing that she was an addict. And that`s the terms of that criminal complaint.
Michael Jackson for probably about 20 years has been a prescription drug addict. He`s admitted it at one point, he went to rehab, he`s been suspected of going many other times. And, you know, doctors have flown with him at various times.
So this is very interesting to me and not surprising. California is getting very serious on doctors who give prescription medications to known addicts.
POLITAN: Yes. And Diane Dimond, when I think -- again, I think of this death, this iconic musical performer, again, takes me back to Elvis who at age 42 died and that investigation and all the rumors surrounding that.
Do you think anyone, any of his fans -- because you`ve interacted with his fans...
DIMOND: Oh yes.
POLITAN: ...any of Michael Jackson`s fans will be satisfied with whatever they hear? Or will the rumors go on forever that Michael Jackson died this way, something else happened, we`re not getting the truth.
DIMOND: I`m going to tell you something, Vinnie. I am looking at my Blackberry here as I sit here on this program. I`m already getting blamed by Jackson fans for having caused his death.
They will blame the media, they will blame his doctors, they will blame everybody and no, I don`t believe that they are going to believe the coroner`s report. And the coroner`s report, again, I`m going to predict is going to be probably that he had a heart attack due to drug abuse and anorexia.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: And Vinnie...
DIMOND: This is a man that did not take care of his body for a long, long time. And if I can just add one more thing, these children will not, I don`t think, go to Katherine Jackson. Because my sources have been telling me for a few months that she`s very sick herself.
POLITAN: Jane, Jane you wanted to say something?
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, there were some other breaking news just coming into my Blackberry. And by the way I`m in San Juan, Puerto Rico for the National Association of Hispanic Journalists Conference. And this is the talk of this. And it spread like wildfire through the conference when word came down late this afternoon that Michael Jackson was taken to the hospital. It was unbelievable the reaction you can imagine from an entire thousand-plus journalists.
But CNN reporting that a lieutenant from the Los Angeles County Coroner`s Office says the autopsy will probably be done tomorrow.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: With results expected in the afternoon.
POLITAN: All right, much more -- everyone sit tight.
Michael Jackson dead at 50 years old.
POLITAN: A truly sad and shocking day today. The "King of Pop" Michael Jackson dead at 50 years old. Teams of people, reporters, fans, the like, are crowding around the UCLA medical center as we speak.
And Angie Crouch, I understand, there are also folks gathering near the "Walk of Fame?"
CROUCH: That`s right. Hundreds of fans are trying to reach Michael Jackson`s star on the "Hollywood Walk of Fame" today on Hollywood Boulevard out in front of Grumman`s Theater, but they`re not able to se the star right now because there`s an event at the theater tonight and his star happens to be covered up today with heavy equipment.
So fans are being rerouted to the Jackson 5 star at 1500 Vine. And that`s not far away from Hollywood Boulevard. We`re told that there will be some kind of a service or memorial tomorrow morning at Michael Jackson`s star on Hollywood Boulevard, but tonight it`s covered up -- just ironically -- covered up with equipment tonight for an event happening at the theater.
POLITIAN: Jane Velez-Mitchell, this is a story that we`ll be covering obviously through the next several days. It`s a story that`s not going to go away anytime soon. I think we`re really at the beginning of it here. I am going to be -- this is going to be a big moment for a lot of people.
People that grew up watching Michael Jackson and people that have loved him. When you look at fans literally coming to tears when they would just -- to be in the same room or be in the presence or in the same concert hall with Michael Jackson -- the impact on L.A. and the rest of the country is going to be enormous here.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: It is. I think that Diane Dimond will agree with me, any time, even in death, there is a Michael Jackson story, it never just ends. In other words, I think this is the beginning of an entirely new saga as all sorts of controversies arrive. The cause of death, what`s going to happen to his children.
And actually I`d be interested to get Diane`s perspective on the whole Debbie Rowe issue because there was such a complexity over her first relinquishing any rights to the children but then going back on that and saying, no, maybe I do and then maybe settling with Michael Jackson. What is the very latest on that? Where was it left at the time of his death and would she possibly have a right to go in there legally and try to get them?
POLITAN: Jane, I have to interrupt you because you`ve opened up a huge can of worms and we`re up against the end of the show. Diane, can you do it in ten seconds?
DIMOND: Debbie Rowe, I am told, gave up her rights for a second time for more money. Wendy Murphy was exactly right. Debbie Rowe I don`t think has a snowball`s chance to get these kids.
POLITAN: All right. You see the fans gathering. Thanks so much to our panel for helping us out tonight.
Michael Jackson, dead at age 50.
I`m Vinnie Politan filling in for Jane Velez-Mitchell. You are watching ISSUES on HLN.