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Discussion of Custody in Michael Jackson Case

Aired July 14, 2009 - 21:00   ET



LARRY KING, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Tonight, Deborah Rowe -- deal or no deal?

The attorney for Michael Jackson's former wife denies reports that she's agreed to take millions in exchange for this -- not challenging grandmother Katherine for custody of the two kids she had with the king of pop.

What's the truth and who's telling it?

Plus, Debbie's long time friend is here to tell us about the Debbie that he knows.



We begin tonight with two of the best journalists covering this case.

Jim Moret, the chief correspondent for "INSIDE EDITION." Also an attorney, by the way.

And Carlos Diaz, the correspondent for "Extra."

We'll, the New York Post" has a screaming front page headline today: "Cash Cow -- Rowe sells Jocko Jacko Kids to His Mom for $4 Million."

What's it all about, Jim?

JIM MORET, "INSIDE EDITION" CHIEF CORRESPONDENT: Well, according to Debbie Rowe's attorney, it's all false and he demanded an immediate retraction. And he said -- this is his letter here. Four...

KING: Yes, we're going to read parts of it.

MORET: Four key points. But basically he said this story is false, it's malicious, retract it.

KING: What do you make of it?

Is "The Post" running wild here, which they have been known to do at times?

CARLOS DIAZ, CORRESPONDENT, "EXTRA": But here's the thing, the -- this doesn't go to a court until Monday.

So why would they strike a deal so early?

I mean it's -- it's great posturing by the lawyer, saying, listen, no deal has been struck. And even if they are still negotiating, it's a great way for her lawyer to let the Jackson family know that they mean business, that they're not going to settle for something that's not as much money as she can get.

KING: Debbie Rowe's attorney, as Jim mentioned, has sent a letter to the "New York Post" demanding an immediate retraction. According to the attorney: "There's been no agreement reached between Ms. -- Ms. Rowe and the Jacksons. Miss. Rowe is not and will not give up her parental rights. No determination has been reached concerning custody or visitation. Ms. Rowe has not accepted and will not accept any additional financial consideration beyond the spousal support she and Michael Jackson personally agreed to several years ago."

In response, "The Post's" editor-in-chief says: ""The Post" stands by its story."

"The Post," of course, will not give a source, right, Jim?

MORET: Right. And we talked to people...

KING: That's a definitive statement by the lawyer, isn't it?


KING: It's not a hedge.

MORET: It's not a hedge. But it does leave -- it doesn't say that they're not negotiating. And that's a good thing because, you know, these hearings -- the custody hearings have been delayed twice. And the sources close to the family have told us the sides are talking. And this doesn't say they're not talking so.

KING: Do you hear that from sources?

MORET: We're hearing that they're talking.

DIAZ: Let's -- let's make one thing perfectly clear -- Debbie Rowe has never been a part of these kids' lives. And she knows that she has an uphill battle in fighting for custody of these kids because of the fact she hasn't been part of their lives. And if she's going to battle for these kids, she's only battling for two. She's not battling for Blanket, the youngest one.

So, in essence, the court would have to split up these kids in order to give Debbie Rowe these kids. So, obviously, a settlement is in her best interests. It's because she's -- it's an uphill battle.

MORET: But she's still...

KING: What...

MORET: She's still the biological mother...

KING: Yes. That...

MORET: two of those kids.

KING: And that holds weight in California, does it not?

MORET: Sure it does.

KING: Now, what about -- Arnold Klein was here last week.


KING: And a lot of rumors about him being the father. He didn't really deny it. He said he would take a DNA and he said he has deposited sperm in a bank.

What do you make of that whole edge?

Where is that going?

DIAZ: Well, and that's the thing, too. I mean that's got to be in the minds of Katherine Jackson's attorneys and the Jackson family's attorneys as they head into this, because Debbie Rowe, if she's saying that she's the biological mother, she can easily ask for a DNA test to see if Michael's even the biological father. So if there's a settlement -- I mean that's -- that's something that's -- you know, that's in her favor -- in Debbie Rowe's favor -- that she can say OK, well, if you want to take this to court, we can -- we can DNA test and we can find out that Michael may not even be the biological father of these kids.

MORET: But in California, those kids were born when Michael Jackson was married to Debbie Rowe. As far as the law is concerned, he's the dad.

KING: He's the father.

MORET: I'll tell you the wild card. We don't know where the biological mom is for Blanket. So everyone is holding their breath thinking what...

KING: Where did Blanket appear from?

MORET: Exactly. It's an -- an anonymous donor.

DIAZ: Yes. And in the interview with Martin Bashir, you know, from years ago, Michael Jackson said that the mother has agreed to not come forward and she's not going to be part of Blanket's life. So that's -- that's the one -- that's a wild card right there.

KING: What is Debbie Rowe's image, do you think, if any?

MORET: I -- well, look, at the headline, Larry. It said "Cash Cow." Look how she's being beaten up. And that's...

KING: "The New York Post" is famous for headlines.

MORET: I know. But I think a lot of people are saying she's selling her kids. Look, the fact is she said publicly, I had these children for Michael. He is a great father. But Michael's gone.

She may have changed her mind. She may feel that she now wants to be a part of their lives. I can't tell you what her motivation is. I don't pretend to know.

But I'll tell you one thing, Joe Jackson's statements may have bothered her in the last few days, saying that he's thinking about forming the Jackson 3 and -- you know, those are kind of disturbing statements.

DIAZ: But she didn't help herself out, though. In the two pieces of video that we have from last week are Debbie Rowe getting angry at the paparazzi, using a very bad curse word, threatening them physically. And then you have Paris, Michael's daughter, on stage crying, saying she misses her dad and then falling into the arms of Janet Jackson.

I mean, in the court of public opinion, those kids need to be with the Jackson family.

KING: What's the Joe Jackson story in this?

MORET: The Joe Jackson story is Michael Jackson has always been open about the fact that he was abused by his father. He said so himself. And if he's insinuating himself into their lives and the kids' lives and wants to raise them, Debbie Rowe may say, as she said to a local reporter last week, I don't want him raising those kids. And maybe that's what's bringing her into this.

That -- it certainly could -- could be something that's disturbing her.

DIAZ: And Michael, of course, in the will, meant -- does not -- you know, he does not mention his father whatsoever. So, obviously, it's Michael's wishes -- he says I want my kids with Katherine, my mom. And then if Katherine cannot raise the kids, I want them with Diana Ross.

KING: If there is nothing arranged, do you expect a spirited custody hearing?


DIAZ: Yes.

MORET: The short answer is yes.

KING: Who's the judge?

MORET: I'm not -- I'm not familiar with the judge in this case. I'll tell you, though, any judge is going to look at the following -- what's in the best interests of the children? KING: That's what he's there for...

MORET: Right.

KING: ...or she?

MORET: Right. Absolutely. And you're going to talk to the children, either directly or through counsel, because they're 11, 12 and seven. The 11 and 12 year olds are the ones at issue here.

But they're old enough to have an opinion. You're going to listen to them. You're going to look at Debbie Rowe as a mother. You're going to look at Katherine, as well, because Michael Jackson specifically said in his will that's who I want to raise them.

It's a tough -- Larry, you're a parent. It's a tough thing to -- to decide what's best for that kid.

DIAZ: And the hearing is Monday and Debbie Rowe's attorneys have already said that she will be at that hearing on Monday. So they're -- they're coming to play.

KING: Will the children be asked?

MORET: I don't think they'll be at the hearing. But they'll be interviewed in some capacity, I'm sure. Because when you have an 11- year-old and 12-year-old, they have their...

KING: No, they have judgment.

MORET: Of course they do. And -- and don't forget, they're now with Katherine. They're with their niece -- their cousins, the aunts, the uncles. They're with the family that they know as their family.

They don't even know Debbie Rowe as their mother. They know her as Miss. Debbie. I suspect that the older kids are old enough to go on the Internet and look it up but...

KING: Carlos, why are we so fascinated with this?

DIAZ: Because it is...

KING: The man is gone.

DIAZ: But it is a very interesting case because, as we've pointed out, the fact that she is the biological mother holds weight in California, yet these kids have nothing to do with her. She basically gave these kids to Michael Jackson. She gave her children away...

KING: She got money for that, right?

DIAZ: ...and got money for it.

KING: What did she get?

Do we know?

DIAZ: She basically -- it was -- it was a settlement...

MORET: Reportedly, $8 million.

DIAZ: Yes, it was a settlement over years.

KING: Jim and Carlos will be back later, so hang around.

One of Debbie Rowe's friends is with us. Hear what he has to say about the mother of Michael Jackson's children, next.


KING: Joining us now from Frankfurt, Journey, where he's -- from Germany, rather -- Frankfurt, Germany, where he's on a business and social trip, is Mark Schaffel. Mark is the former business associate of Michael Jackson and a long time friend of Debbie Rowe.

How did you come to know Debbie, Mark?

MARC SCHAFFEL, DEBORAH ROWE'S LONG TIME FRIEND: Well, I actually met Debbie while I was with Michael working in his camp. I had the opportunity to have contact with her several times. And I found that she really was a very nice, wonderful caring person. You know when I finally got close to her and got to meet her, you know, she was completely different than what the public perceives.

KING: Different completely from the way we perceive her?

SCHAFFEL: Debbie is a very caring, wonderful, warm person. I mean she's a very humble person. People, you know, don't give her credit that she was a friend of Michael's for over 30 years. She is the mother of two of his children. She was married to Michael. You know, when Michael passed away, she was grieving like everybody else. And, you know, reporters and paparazzi were all up in her face.

And, you know, when she reacts to that, when she's looking for some privacy and just trying to go on with her life, you know, people make comments that, you know, she doesn't react well with the paparazzi. But, you know, her life isn't in the paparazzi.

KING: As you...

SCHAFFEL: Her life is...

KING: I know. As you mentioned, Mark, she's been under a lot of pressure from the press and the paparazzi. She had an angry confrontation last week.



QUESTION: Debbie, are you ready to fight for your kids, Debbie?

DEBBIE ROWE: You know what?

QUESTION: Are you ready to fight for your children?

ROWE: Don't...

QUESTION: Are you ready to fight for your children?

ROWE: Do not touch me.

QUESTION: Nobody touched you here.

ROWE: You just did. Don't.

QUESTION: Are you ready to fight for your children?

ROWE: Are you ready to get your butt kicked?

Don't (EXPLETIVE DELETED) touch me.

QUESTION: Debbie, are you willing to take a cash settlement for the kids?


QUESTION: How important are the kids to you, Debbie?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: God bless you and your children.

QUESTION: (INAUDIBLE) the kids, right, Debbie?

QUESTION: Are you ready to fight for your kids, Debbie?

Do you think she's ready to fight?


KING: I think probably, Mark, a lot of people would sympathize with what happened to her there, don't you think?

SCHAFFEL: Well, you know, that was the day prior to -- the day or two prior to the memorial for Michael. I mean her good friend of many, many years hadn't even been put to rest yet. She's trying to have dinner with a couple of friends of hers in a private, quiet setting. People are throwing cameras up in her face, asking her, you know, very personal questions. And they're not being, you know, respectful to a grieving person.

KING: Dr. Arnold Klein, Debbie's former employer and Michael's dermatologist, was a guest on this show last week. And he had this to say about Debbie and Michael's relationship.



KING: Now, the Debbie Rowe part of the story. She was your nurse, right?


KING: They met, I guess, at your office?


KING: Was that a real love affair?

KLEIN: I don't know what love is, I mean, in that sense of the imagination. I think that she loves him very much. She admired him very much.

KING: Well...

KLEIN: So I'm telling you, was that a love affair, you want to know?

I think she really cared about his welfare. I think he...

KING: It was not a sexual relationship, was it?

KLEIN: Well, I think they did have sex.

KING: You do?

KLEIN: Yes, I really do. And I can't guarantee that, but I think they did have sex in their relationship.


KING: Mark, what do you think?

Was that a loving physical relationship?

SCHAFFEL: Well, I mean, I'm a friend of Debbie's. And quite honestly, it would just be totally inappropriate for me to make any comment about what their, you know, relationship was when they were a married couple, as far as in the bedroom. I mean I can say that I know there was deep affection.

Like I said before. Debbie was very close to Michael many, many years. I mean, at this point, it's 30 years. I mean there was a true, true love there for Michael.

KING: What do you think, Mark, is the biggest misconception about her?

I mean you know her as well as anyone.

What -- what don't we know about her?

SCHAFFEL: Debbie is a wonderful, caring person. I mean what most people, you know, seem to forget -- I mean, Debbie doesn't run out to all of the social events. You don't see her shopping on Rodeo Drive. She's not hitting the hot spots. She's not trying to be in the limelight.

Debbie is just as happy at home in her very modest, humble, horse ranch. She spends time with all of her horses and her dogs. You know, if one of her horses is sick, I mean Debbie will stay up all night long caring for them. I mean she'll sleep on the floor in the barn with a horse if he's not well.

KING: We'll be right back with more of Mark.

By the way, want to see your comments on the bottom of our screen?

Go to, click on the blog, start typing and we'll share some of your thoughts later in the show.

More with Debbie Rowe's friend, Mark, in 60 seconds.


KING: We're with Mark Schaffel. He's in Frankfurt, Germany, a former business associate of Michael Jackson, a long time friend of Debbie Rowe.

What do you make of all this outpouring that's followed his death?

What do you make of all this commotion?

SCHAFFEL: Well, you know, I mean, it's really a shame, like everybody says. I mean it's too bad it had to take his death for people to realize, you know, what an incredible performer Michael was. I mean what -- at the end of the day, he was an incredible humanitarian. And he was just an absolute musical genius. Nobody could ever take that away from him.

And it is very sad that it took a tragedy like his death for people to come out and support Michael again.

KING: We've all seen the incredible video -- I'm sure you have -- of his final rehearsal.

If he had lived, Mark, and done those concerts in London, do you think he would have come back on top?

SCHAFFEL: Yes. I mean, I think Michael would have gained a whole new audience. I mean, every time I speak with people and they'll tell me their -- their kids will start to hear Michael music and they start to dance.

I mean I have a very good friend, a 6-year-old nephew is dancing to, you know, "Billie Jean," "Beat It" and "Thriller" all the time now. And he was actually in a position to regain a whole new audience -- a whole new generation.

KING: Many people, including his ex-wife, Lisa Marie Presley, his sister La Toya, have said that Michael didn't expect to live to a ripe old age.

Was that your experience?

SCHAFFEL: You know, we did have conversations like that at some point in time. I mean, I don't want to get into too much of what we said. But, you know, I can tell you, one of the fears Michael had sometimes -- you know, we were in New York City quite a bit working on one of his albums, "Invincible." And, you know, fans would hide places, jump out. I mean, most had great intentions. But, you know, Michael's had a few scary experiences with fans and -- you know, and he's said to me several times, you know -- you know, I don't want to end up like John Lennon.

KING: What do you make of La Toya's accusations about foul play and murder?

SCHAFFEL: Well, I mean, I can see a family member being very upset. I think the -- the source of where the interview came from, I mean, if you look at it, it looks very exaggerated. And I mean, to think that there was this big conspiracy, it would need to be followed up with a simple fact of who was benefiting.

I mean, you know, Michael already had his deal with his ATV catalog. They didn't stand to make, you know, any difference whether Michael, you know, passed away or survived. And the people around him that maybe she was accusing of this, you know, if there was a will that popped up that was done two weeks prior to this happening, OK, there might be merit to think there was a conspiracy.

But from what's going on now, nobody around him would stand to benefit from his death.

KING: Yes.

Mark, thanks.

We'll see you again soon. Come back home.

SCHAFFEL: Thank you, Larry.

KING: Mark Schaffel.

The guys who know a thing or two about celebrity child custody cases are here.

Who else?

The lawyers are next.


KING: Three guys who know the territory.

Mark Geragos returns, the defense attorney who represented Michael Jackson in the child investi -- molestation case.

Neal Hersh, famed attorney, family law and child custody expert. His celebrity clients include Kim Basinger and Denise Richards.

And in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, Judge Larry Seidlin, the former Florida circuit court judge who presided over the court battle determining the custody of Anna Nicole Smith's remains and her final resting place.

All right, Mark, what do you make of this "New York Post" story that Debbie is asking or is supposed to get $4 million and back out of the custody?

MARK GERAGOS, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Well, as much as I'm a great believer in free press, I've had the experience twice within the last three months and probably 10 times in my career where there's been a story in "The New York Post" about a client of mine that I knew demonstrably was false. And I have sent letters and asked for retractions and they give the same reaction as here.

So my guess is, is that you'd have to take it with a grain of salt.

KING: Neal?

NEAL HERSH, ATTORNEY, FAMILY LAW & CHILD CUSTODY EXPERT: I agree. I don't see any basis for her to try to extract any money from the kids (INAUDIBLE)...

KING: Well, wouldn't she -- supposing she really didn't -- she never showed an interest in raising them. Supposing you were her attorney and she said to you, you know, can we get something out of this?

I'm just -- this is a -- that's a hypothetical.

HERSH: What I have always said is I'm very surprised that she hasn't already asked for custodial rights if she was intending to do so. The father of her children has passed away.

What parent waits two, three, four weeks to decide whether to take the children?

KING: Yes.

HERSH: If you're interested, you make your move quickly.

KING: Judge...

HERSH: I don't think she's interested.

KING: Judge Seidlin, how would you look at this if it were in your court?

JUDGE LARRY SEIDLIN, FORMER FLORIDA CIRCUIT COURT JUDGE: I would do this. This amount of money, $4 million is tip money. This estate's going to receive over $1 billion and go on for a long, long time. So it would be silly to even put that amount out there.

KING: All right.

And how about custody?

Does she have a valid case if she hasn't paid attention, but she's the biological mother?

SEIDLIN: Yes. There's two primary parties in this case. There's Debbie Rowe, who's the biological mother. Under normal circumstances, she would have the first ticket into the courtroom. And then the second major party is Michael Jackson's mother, the caring grandmother of the children.

KING: And what you're saying is you have to wait to hear the story?

SEIDLIN: I -- well, at this point, the strongest case is for the -- Michael Jackson's mother to receive the children -- to be the guardian of the children. And Debbie Rowe's position is weaker because, in the past, she's shown a pattern of being -- given a sum of money to walk away from raising those children.

But she's being unfairly slashed in the media because she tends to look like just a strong individual. And it's unfair that they're slashing her every moment.

KING: Mark?

GERAGOS: Well, in my experience -- I'm certainly not going to be an expert ever or hold myself out to know anything in particular about family law. I will tell you, based on observing those kids and observing their interaction with Grace and with Katherine -- and Grace is the caregiver -- that I can't imagine any judge who is -- as long as the situation is the same as it was years ago when we were involved in the child protective services investigation, why you'd ever give these kids anywhere but with Grace and with Katherine and let them raise them.

These are very well adjusted kids, very smart. And I think people are impressed by Paris. I was impressed by Paris five years ago in the way -- in how smart and attuned she was.

KING: Neal, you're in court all the time. Be a judge here.

HERSH: Well, I know this judge very well and...

KING: Who is the judge?

HERSH: His name is Mitch Beckloff. He's very, very concerned with children's welfare, the best interests of the children, as was discussed earlier. And that's going to be his primary focus.

I think, though, that we have to realize two points. One, there is no custody fight yet, because until Debbie Rowe says she wants custody, Katherine is getting the children. That's it. End of story.

If Debbie says she wants the two eldest children, that means they're going to have to break up these children if Debbie was to prevail.

But if so, if Debbie says she wants the kids, then you'll have a custody fight.

Even though she's presumptively the first choice as the mother, if she has had no relationship with these kids, it's no different than you or I asking for custody of the Jackson kids She's a stranger to them.

And in that circumstance, Katherine's getting these kids hands down. I think it's a 99 percent chance Debbie's going to ask for custody. I don't think she will. And I think it's almost impossible that she gets them.

KING: Does his will mean anything?

HERSH: There -- it's just a suggestion. It's not controlling.

KING: Yes.

What about the mother of Jackson's youngest child?

Does she have a legal claim to Blanket?

We'll ask that next.


KING: Judge Seidlin, what if -- what if Blanket's mother comes forward?

SEIDLIN: I believe no judge in America is going to split up these three children. And you have two of the finest lawyers in the country sitting next to you, but one of them to mention that they're going to split up the three kids, no judge is going to do that.

As you know, I wore the black robe for a long time and I made life-altering decisions every day. They're going to keep those children together. The statutes say it. The law says it. And that's the way it's going to remain.

The other mother may come forward. But the best position is by Michael Jackson's mother and then Debbie Rowe has a good -- a good position.

KING: OK. Mark has...

SEIDLIN: And they're going to be mediating that case.

KING: All right, Mark?

GERAGOS: I'm not sure and, you know, I should have looked that up, because I could have anticipated that. I know that there's a section -- a family code section that says that there's no parental rights for a sperm donor.

Is there the same section for a surrogate?

HERSH: A surrogate?

There is no doubt in my mind that there's a surrogancy contract in this case and the biological mother of the youngest child has zero rights period. She's not a factor in this case. There is no one who has a surrogate --

KING: Michael was able to arrange to have a surrogate mother bring him a child, and that's done all the time?

GERAGOS: All the time. All the time.

KING: Single men can do this?

HERSH: Married men can do this.

GERAGOS: Anyone. And the idea of them having give up all rights is to avoid these problems later on when someone says gee, now, I'm here.

KING: Is that the same law in Florida, judge?

SEIDLIN: It's all over the country, Larry. We have a modern family now. And the modern family is we have egg donors. We have sperm donors. We don't want to tear the fabric or the community apart and say who's the father, have a Woody Allen movie. Who's your father?

If someone says they're married and they show this is their child, and they present to the world it's their child, we're going to assume that and presume that. And we don't want to go against that. And therefore, those two children are Michael Jackson's children. And in California, if you have these children and you present them to the world for more than two years, there's a very strong presumption they're your children.

And the one thing here that's a fly in the ointment is I wish Joe Jackson, his ego was a little bit softer, because he's throwing fire out there by claiming he's going to become the manager of these children. He should just be the grandfather for these children.

KING: Couldn't Debbie Rowe, if she makes -- all hypothetical, we don't know what we're talking about. No one knows what we're talking about.

GERAGOS: That hasn't stopped us on any night the last three weeks.

KING: Keep it up. That's never stopped us before, why stop now?

GERAGOS: Why are we going to start now?

KING: Couldn't Debbie Rowe come forward and say, hey, wait a minute, the grandmother -- with the grandfather not even mentioned. There's a riff there, a whole problem there. GERAGOS: That's something that's probably, I think, an issue with any court case. Somebody can always come up and they can always say X, Y, or Z, or ABC, this is the problem. Therefore, you shouldn't do it. Whether that's going to fly is something else.

HERSH: Katherine was very smart. She applied in her own name. On the paperwork it says the address of Joe is unknown or to be provided, actually. So she has separated herself from Joe. And the reason is obvious. If Michael complained about how his father treated him, there's no court that would want to condemn these children to that same environment that Michael himself loathed.

KING: How about their age, though?

HERSH: You mean the parents?

KING: Yes.

HERSH: All of this that you're raising, Larry, would be important if someone else comes up to the plate and says I want to have these kids. If a competent member of the family, one of the siblings says we're younger, we're stronger, we'll be here longer; we want the children, then the age is a factor. But right now, there's no one stepping up saying I want these children other than Katherine. She has a loving long time relationship with them. And unless someone other than Debbie Rowe pops up, Katherine's getting them.

GERAGOS: In this case, you've got a family that looks to be united.

KING: Judge Seidlin, how is a judge trained for something like this?

SEIDLIN: Well, hopefully your life experience, your time as a lawyer, and your time on the bench help you. But you have to take control in this case. This judge is going to have to take control of the case, separate fact from fiction. And every decision this judge makes has to be in the best interest of those three beautiful children.

KING: I agree with that. Everyone agrees with that.

GERAGOS: The U.S. Senate wouldn't. They don't want the judges informed by life experience, they want quite the opposite. So even though that's the reality --

KING: Can anyone in life separate life experience?

GERAGOS: No, they can't. That's why the whole Sotomayor thing is so silly.


GERAGOS: It's true. You've been watching that, you talk about this. The fact is that any judge, when making a decision, is like anybody else. Their life experience -- KING: You desire to be fair?

GERAGOS: You want judges who have life experience. The last thing I want is some judge who went straight from law school to some civil service profession who got appointed. I want somebody who is either in private practice or made a payroll or had some life experiences.

KING: We have an interesting point next, gentlemen, think about it. Do the children have an attorney? Do they need an attorney? Next.


KING: Neal Hersh, should the children be represented?

HERSH: At this point, I don't think there's any need for that, because no one's been making a contest from --

KING: When would they be?

HERSH: If there was a contest that got very heated and there were allegations as to who the children were bonded to, and there was such conflict that the judge felt he needed an advocate for the children --

KING: He could appoint one?


KING: Let's take a call. Los Angeles, hello.

CALLER: Hi, I want to know what is the proof that exists that states that Debbie Rowe is the biological mother of the kids?

KING: What is the proof?

CALLER: Correct, it's always been assumed by the media that she's the biological mother. I want to know where is the proof that she's the biological mother?

KING: Well, there must be somewhere.

GERAGOS: Weren't they married at the time?

KING: They were married and they have the children appear -- one would assume people saw her pregnant.

HERSH: And there was also a judicial determination that she is the mother.

KING: Could be surrogate, right?

HERSH: Well, I don't think she was. I can't answer the question as to the exact proof of that, other than there's no doubt legally she is the mom. KING: Judge Seidlin, this is not open and shut is it?

SEIDLIN: No, this case is going to have more turns and twists than a roller coaster in Neverland. Things are going to be going on. The court's going to have to have a strong iron organs, and take control of this case, separate this fact from fiction. And I believe that the lawyers are going to step to the plate. And they're continuing to negotiate right now. And at some point, they might even go to mediation.

KING: If Michael, Mark -- all of this is hypothetical. That's all we're dealing with every night. If Michael knew he was going to die, let's say tomorrow, could he have prevented this? Could he have done something legally?

GERAGOS: No, I don't think legally you can ever divest the court if there's a battle from making a decision. You can skew it, I suppose. You can set things up.

KING: Like his will says?

GERAGOS: Right, you can lay things out, but you're not going to be able to will your children to somebody.

HERSH: The court always has the right to look at the best interest of the children, no matter what people say. And that's their job and that's what will happen.

KING: Judge, would you listen to the children in this case? Would you ask their opinions?

SEIDLIN: Absolutely. The children -- I would listen to these children. I wouldn't even do it in camera where it's outside the presence of everyone else. I would have it in front of everyone. I would have the children speak. But you don't want a position where whoever gave the last toy to the child, that child then says I want to go with that individual.

But I want to speak to the children. They are absolutely vital to the overall scheme of things.

KING: Would you do it, Mark, in front of the --

GERAGOS: No, I think almost every judge would say I'm going to do this on camera.

KING: But he says no?

GERAGOS: Well, I think most judges would take them on camera. I don't think --

SEIDLIN: A criminal lawyer.


HERSH: There's no doubt in my mind this judge will not have the children spoken to in the public forum. And the reason is they're already this huge spectacle. Could you imagine what would happen --

KING: You know this judge?

HERSH: Very well.

KING: If it is a custody battle, will he talk to the kids?

HERSH: I don't think he'll do it directly. He'll either do it through a mental health professional or through an attorney for the children.

KING: Why? Because they would do it better?

HERSH: Yes. Basically, they have more time with the child, the children at issue. And they can get more information than he can.

KING: Judge Seidlin, family court decisions are appealable, aren't they?

SEIDLIN: Oh, absolutely. And this is -- family court and probate court are courts of equity. Therefore, anybody can come in if they have an equitable position. The court will listen to these children. I always like to do it right in front of the parties. So they saw and heard everything I was doing.

Now, the court can do it in an open court and just remove the media from the courtroom. And that's what the judge might do. And I did it that way.

KING: Now, let me get a quick call in. Richmond, Virginia, hello.

CALLER: Hi, obviously any woman that would sell their children is insane. And I was just wondering, would the judge consider Debbie Rowe's mental status?

KING: Well, if she sold them already -- oh, you mean previously selling them?

GERAGOS: Right, and you can order a mental exam of any litigant, you know --

KING: She's getting a bad rap here.

GERAGOS: Well, she's been vilified already based on stories we don't know are substantiated.

HERSH: On the other hand, as I said before, if she was really interested in getting these kids, she should have been at the courthouse doors the day after he passed away.

KING: Thank you all very much. Stimulating stuff, although hypothetical.

GERAGOS: Very hypothetical. Another celebrity pundit fest. KING: And Geragos with his throw in on the Supreme Court. Throws that in. Mark Geragos, Neal Hersh, and Judge Larry Seidlin. What's your take on all this? Go to, let us know. We could be reading your comments. We'll be back in 60 seconds.


KING: We know you've got something to say about our show tonight because you've been burning up the blog. Here's our David Theall with your comments about Michael Jackson and more. David?

DAVID THEALL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Larry, we are talking all things Michael Jackson on the blog tonight. It's a conversation happening at We're talking mainly tonight about this custody issue of Michael Jackson's children, such as you just were with the panel.

And of all of the thousands of responses that we had today on the blog, one really caught our eye. I'm going to share it with you. It comes from somebody named Christina. She says this: "I hope the children stay with Katherine Jackson, since that was Michael Jackson's expressed wish in his will." She goes on to say, "I'm sure Katherine and Debbie Rowe can find a healthy, peaceful co-existence for the sake of the children."

Like we say, that's happening Jump into the conversation.

Now, Larry, before we go, remember this date. Keep it in mind, August 29th. The place is London, August 29th, would have been Michael Jackson's 51st birthday, the 02 Arena, where he was supposed to have all of these concerts. Can you believe, Larry, that the concert promoter behind that concert may well do a tribute show to Michael Jackson on his 51st birthday.

Now, Larry, you've seen a lot, but would you say if I told you that the headliners may be Diana Ross, Stevie Wonder, Justin Timberlake and Lionel Ritchie. What would you say to that, Larry?

KING: Who is going to open?

THEALL: Well, Larry, here's another thing. We don't know who is going to open. But what would you say if I told you the Jackson brothers and maybe even Janet Jackson would appear?

KING: I think they might sell out.

THEALL: What would you say if I asked you for your credit card so I can go over there and cover it for the blog, Larry?

KING: You got it. You will have my card. You can go. I'm paying and not CNN, right?

THEALL: This is from you, Larry. It's your blog. I'll take the credit card. I'll cover it down two weeks, maybe three max, Larry.

KING: You're going. That's it. You're going.

THEALL: We'll do it for the blog.

KING: Have a good time.

THEALL: Listen, the concert promoter may do this. He's making the rounds today. This story is making its rounds across the web today. Those names, by the way, have not confirmed. That is what the concert promoter is saying would be his wish. And he has, in fact, said, according to some quotes in some articles on the web today, that his hope is to have the Jackson brothers and even Janet Jackson perform in O2 Arena in London for this tribute concert on what would have been Michael Jackson's 51st birthday.

Nothing confirmed. It's just making its way across the web. And we've got the story on the blog,

KING: And I assume you want a round trip ticket.

THEALL: Larry, four weeks most. Five weeks -- I'm telling you I can get it all done in five weeks. Five weeks, Larry. That's it, five weeks.

KING: Tough staff. I have to live with them. Carlos and Jim are back next with the latest on the autopsy results, after this.


KING: Our dynamic duo returns, Jim Moret and Carlos Diaz. What is the latest on the autopsy, Jim?

MORET: Well, we are expecting to get the results possibly the end of the week, but most likely the middle of next week.

KING: This is not the definitive?

MORET: This will be the definitive. The toxicology reports, everything, their final conclusions as to the cause of death. And the fact that the coroner's office went to the doctor's office today indicates they still want more information.

KING: Brain not returned to the family, right, Carlos?

DIAZ: It is portions of the brain. You hear people talking about Michael's -- Michael hasn't been buried yet, by the way. Michael is still not in the ground.

KING: Where is the body?

DIAZ: We are hearing it could be at Forest Lawn. Could be in Berry Gordy's crypt. It could be in a refrigerator unit while they still determine where they're going to bury it.

One thing that needs to be talked about is the fact that Diprivan and Proproval (ph), which is the same drug, that they say Michael was addicted to -- because it is not written as a prescription, because it is not prescribed to people, because it's an anesthetic, it is going to be tough to track this. Because it's not -- you are not going to follow a paper trail.

There are lot numbers that they are going to have to look at. Because they are lot numbers, it is not a specific doctor. It is basically if they have the vials and they have recovered the vials in the house, you have a lot number on that vial. They can track it to the hospital, but they can't track it to the specific doctor as to how Michael got that. That is the monkey wrench in the entire situation.

KING: What do you make of this Dr. Kline thing today?

MORET: Dr. Kline said to you -- that was a weird interview, by the way. It was strange for him to say, to the best of my knowledge, I'm not the father of those children. The whole thing was strange. Clearly they wanted more information. He said he's been cooperating. The coroner today says extensive cooperation. They didn't say full cooperation. They said extensive.

KING: Describe what he did to Michael, the nose and the like. Is that allowed? Can you say what you did to a patient? Doesn't privilege last after death?

MORET: Yes, I believe it does. It is public record he had his nose done. The fact is nobody is surprised or going to sue over that. Clearly they wanted more documentation.

KING: What do you think?

DIAZ: There are so many facets to this story. The children, the drugs, just the tip of the iceberg. The real fight is going to come later with the estate. When we have to talk about Michael left the estate to two different people. Katherine just has filed paperwork wanting more control of the estate. I believe that is why they want this custody situation taken care of as soon as possible. You don't want to be fighting two battles at once.

You don't want to be fighting for the estate and also a custody battle.

KING: More with Jim Moret of "Inside Edition" and Carlos Diaz of "Extra." Has the Michael Jackson case impacted celebrities who game the prescription drug system? We'll ask about that after the break.


KING: Start with Carlos this time. Are celebrities running around tonight in panic because doctors are not giving them the drugs they are used to getting?

DIAZ: Larry, this is the wake-up call for celebrities that they cannot -- doctors are human beings. Doctors are awe struck, just like the rest of us. They are in awe of celebrities and what they can bring, the power that celebrities bring.

I've seen it with doctors that are friends of mine. This is a wake-up call. We saw it with Anna Nicole. We saw it with Heath Ledger. We are seeing it with Michael Jackson.

This is an alert to doctors that if you prescribe celebrities drugs that they don't need, and something bad happens, you could be held responsible.

KING: Do you think, Jim, it's possible some addicts are going nuts now?

MORET: Yes. Carlos is right. Fame is intoxicating. Doctors want to be around the celebrities. I think people around Hollywood are finding it harder to get what they need.

But let's be serious. If you have money, you are going to get what you want. I think that is the problem that we are seeing here.

DIAZ: Hopefully it is going to be harder. That is what I hope comes out of this case, that they really, to the letter of the law, go after these doctors who may have prescribed Michael Jackson these drugs, Diprivan. They should not be in the house. They should not be in anybody's home. And hopefully this is -- I hoped this happened after Heath Ledger. Apparently, it didn't.

KING: Is Joe Jackson a villain in this?

MORET: I think he is being vilified. I think some of his statements are, frankly, inappropriate. To talk about your own record company at the BET awards, and then the following day to talk about the idea of putting your grandkids on stage.

KING: Would you -- if the Jackson guys wanted to do an act now, they would be a big booking.

DIAZ: If they could get Janet to be the lead. If they could somehow convince Janet to do some kind of series of shows at O2 Arena in England, that would be -- 50 shows may be too many. But if they could get Janet involved, ten shows. Does Janet need it?

MORET: People heard Jermaine sing --

KING: Could the brothers be a big Vegas act?

MORET: Sure.

KING: If I owned a hotel, I would grab them.

MORET: I would book them.

DIAZ: That's the thing too. That is the one thing we haven't heard of. We haven't heard from the brothers. Ever since -- after Jermaine talked to you at Neverland, they have gone away. You wonder what their next move is going to be.

KING: Why don't others come out, do you think?

MORET: Others.

KING: Brothers.

MORET: You know what, I think the family is grieving. I think it's still too soon. You're not going to come out and talk about your --

KING: These parents, we forget, have lost a child, which is the worst thing that can happen to a parent at any age.

MORET: And to do it in such a public forum and to see it every day, it must be very difficult on that whole family.

DIAZ: I think it set in for a lot of different people that when he passed, it was this big commotion, Michael Jackson is gone; what is the next move, this and that. I think now it has set in; wow, he really is gone, and he's not coming back, and we've lost a great entertainer and a great person.

KING: Do you expect, based on Latoya's statements, that there's a criminal investigation here, really in vogue? Is it going on?

MORET: If Diprivan was in that room, they find the doctor that gave it to him, yes, absolutely. I think you're looking at a criminal investigation.

DIAZ: But I don't think anything Latoya Jackson says is going to influence the investigation. The investigation is well on its -- it's been on-going and Latoya's comments to a UK tabloid is not going to have any affect.

KING: She is sumising, isn't she?

MORET: Well, she thinks there was foul play. We heard from the L.A. police chief. They are looking at the possibility of a homicide investigation, criminal investigation.

KING: The FDA, looking at doctors.

DIAZ: You're looking at doctors. Like we said, from what we understand, Michael Jackson had dentists involved as well. There were rumors that dentists were involved as well. It is a long stretching investigation that will not be solved tomorrow.

MORET: It is not just the depth. It is also the long-term misuse and abuse of prescription drugs.

KING: How much legs does this story have?

DIAZ: Like I said, there are so many facets. When you talk about the children that are involved, the custody battle, the fact that Michael is not in the ground yet, the fact that we haven't got the toxicology report yet, the fact that the estate, that battle is still looming.

There are so many facets to this story. We will be talking about this story for months to come.

MORET: We still talk about Elvis. He was the Elvis of our generation. There are --

KING: Imagine if we had all this communications skills when Elvis died.

DIAZ: Exactly. You made a great point. The Jackson family is in -- the one thing they are enjoying from this is the amount of income coming in with no money going out.

KING: Thanks, guys. Call on you again, probably tomorrow. Jim Moret and Carlos Diaz. Another edition of LARRY KING LIVE into the record books. Time now for Anderson Cooper and "AC 360." Anderson?