Daily Buzzkills: What price can you put on grief? Ask The Jacksons

Daily Buzzkills: What price can you put on grief? Ask The Jacksons

Short of mummifying his still-not-buried-holy-fuck-we’re-not-kidding corpse, packing it into an ice cream truck, and taking him on a tour of county fairs, Jesse James-style, there’s not much more indignity Michael Jackson could possibly suffer in death. He’s already had his brain removed, his body “sliced and diced” several times over, his blood analyzed down to the 20th Xanax, and his hair melted down into diamond keepsakes—and while these are just petty matters of the flesh, and what really matters is the legacy of the music, man, get set to see even that ravaged beyond recognition as projects like Michael Jackson: The Remix Suite and the 400-page book Official Michael Jackson Opus (which retails at $165) “pay tribute” by cashing in just before Christmas. But if there’s one consolation in this maelstrom of post-mortem marketing, it’s that the experience has brought the estranged members of The Jackson Family closer together, and you can’t put a price on that.

Oh, except New Jersey-based concert promoter AllGood Entertainment just did, proposing a 10-city “Jackson Family Reunion Tour” that outlines—in hard dollar amounts—exactly how much each Jackson’s public grieving is worth:

  • Janet Jackson — $4 million
  • Jermaine Jackson — $1.5 million
  • Jackie Jackson — $1.5 million
  • Randy Jackson — $1.5 million
  • Marlon Jackson — $1.5 million
  • Tito Jackson — $1.5 million
  • La Toya Jackson — $500,000
  • Rebbie Jackson — $250,000

It’s a cold, brusquely business-like distillation that's based on who’s more crucial to the show and, uh, whose tears are the fattest or something. And as you might expect, it’s set off yet another round of “spats” within the family, who each just want to honor Michael the way he would have wanted it—by allowing his brothers to trade on his name 10-plus more times, and quickly, before somebody else famous dies or a war breaks out and everyone goes back to caring about more important things than “how Tito is holding up.”

Unfortunately, while almost everyone agrees that it’s important to strike while the sympathy iron is hot, the tour is being held back by a couple of dissenters from within. At the top of that list, naturally, is baby sister Janet, who would assume the mantle of headliner that Michael would have occupied had he lived to take part in the tour as originally planned, and who, like Michael, definitely doesn’t need to do any of this, thanks. Of course, it’s also symbolic of the role Janet has been asked to play now that she’s the only still-living family member with any shred of marketability on her own, and by all reports she’s not too psyched about having that kind of pressure put on her—which is strange, because what good is achieving fame or fortune if you won’t allow your less famous and fortuitous siblings to siphon it off you for the rest of your life? But because Janet is being all “I’m not comfortable with inheriting the stress that basically killed my brother right in front of my eyes,” the tour is now in jeopardy, and Randy may have to go back to fixing cars and stuff.

Of course, it’s not all Janet’s unbelievable selfishness that’s derailed things. Oldest sister Rebbie isn’t exactly thrilled to be collecting $25,000 per gig either, which is probably just a little bit over what, say, the lighting designer takes home. Neither is she thrilled that the contract repeatedly refers to her as “Rebbe,” by the way, or that no one apparently remembers that “Centipede” was actually pretty good and thus worth at least another $100K, or—and we’re just guessing here—that she’s now going to be the one to do the bulk of raising Michael’s kids while mother Katherine sits for interviews with high school newspapers and QVC hosts and whoever else will listen to her and conducts squabbles with Michael’s estate lawyers over how best to convert it into a trust for her less talented spawn, and you know, come to think of it, it might be nice if for once the family didn’t act like Rebbie was like the gross water that comes from a mustard bottle right before all the good stuff gets squeezed out.

But if anything, both Janet and Rebbe deserve a cool million right now just for keeping their mouths shut and refusing to dive right into the carrion buffet the way their more rapacious siblings have. In the words of The Daily Beast’s Diane Dimond:

Ubiquitous requests for media interviews and frequent deal proposals that have caused a constant competition between family members for TV face time, print exposure, and quick money. Just hours after Michael died, his father Joe Jackson was on the red carpet at the BET Awards in Los Angeles hawking his new record label, oblivious to the way that looked to the rest of the world. Jermaine Jackson has now appeared multiple times on Larry King Live—and along with King’s wife, Shawn, is organizing a highly troubled “Happy Birthday Michael” concert in Vienna slated for August 29. La Toya sold her opinion that her brother had been murdered to the U.K. tabloid News of the World and is reportedly seriously negotiating to appear on the next season of Dancing With the Stars. On July 25, one month after Michael passed away, Tito Jackson appeared in Montego Bay at the annual Reggae Sumfest and gave an exclusive interview to Entertainment Tonight… The father and siblings seem to realize that this new exposure, born from tragedy, has the potential to resuscitate each of their musical careers and restore their ability to pull in the big bucks in the future.

And hooray, now that each Jackson knows exactly what sort of “big bucks” they’re able to pull in, right down to the dollar amount, the race is officially on to see who can mourn Michael harder and faster than everyone else, because that shit's not gonna be worth $1.5 million forever. Thanks for the help, AllGood Entertainment.

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