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Michael Jackson is sued for more than $20 mil

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Michael Jackson
Lionel Cironneau/AP

NO SHOW A concert promoter is suing Michael Jackson for $21.2 million for allegedly ditching two shows scheduled for the millennium. Lawyers for Marcel Avram, Jackson’s German-based promoter since 1972, filed a suit in L.A., claiming the pop star failed to uphold a 1999 contract when he reneged on two of four planned benefit shows, slated for Sydney and Honolulu. Billed as ”Michael Jackson & Friends,” and featuring guests such as Mariah Carey and Ringo Starr, the concerts were meant to benefit such charities as UNICEF and the Red Cross. But Jackson’s fee of $15 mil ”exceeded the cost of all other performers by 10 times,” and ”the profits foreseen from the benefits concerts shrank more and more under Jackson’s bombastic spending,” Germany’s Sueddeutsche Zeitung quotes the lawsuit as stating. (Jackson has not responded to the suit.) Avram told the paper he took over costs and transferred money from the first two shows to the beneficiary charities in the hopes of recouping at New Year. When Jackson canceled, citing recording commitments, Avram took the loss. ”There is nothing else we can do but to remind Michael Jackson of his responsibilities as an artist and businessman. Saying ‘I love you’ is not enough,” Avram said. Was he hoping Jackson would propose?

RAMBLIN’ AGAIN Allman Brothers Band cofounder Dickey Betts flew to New York Friday to confront issues surrounding his abrupt dismissal from the band’s summer tour and to meet with lawyers for discussion about a possible legal resolution to the problem (see EW Online’s exclusive interview with Betts last month). Betts told reporters that he still has not received an explanation from Gregg Allman or other band members for the fax he received in May saying he was temporarily out of the band. He also said that previous reports of his June 9 rampage were blown out of proportion. ”I was admitted to the hospital for mental evaluation and care,” he said, adding that he was released the next day. ”It hit the damn papers that I was being chased through the woods with dogs and choppers. I mean, who the hell are we after here, John Dillinger? For Chrissakes, I’m just a lowly guitar player.” Some of his fans might disagree.

MOB SCENE Police say that 1,140 crimes were reported at Britain’s three-day Glastonbury Music Fest, which included acts such as the Chemical Brothers, Elastica, and David Bowie. Officers arrested 187 people on charges ranging from assault and robbery to drug possession with intent to sell.

CRIME Karen McNeil, the 39 year old Ohio woman accused of stalking Guns N’ Roses frontman Axl Rose was sentenced to a year in county jail. McNeil, who was charged for violating a parole stipulation that prohibited her from going within 300 feet of Rose’s house, claims that she communicates with the heavy metal man via telepathy. Guess the sensors get stronger when she’s peering through his windows.

COURTS A California Superior Court ruled that the countersuit Sylvester Stallone filed against two former house helpers (who claimed that they were sacked for petty reasons) will have to be heard in another state. The workers, who are suing Stallone and his wife Jennifer Flavin, claim that they were fired for violating house rules like backing quietly out of a room upon Stallone’s entrance and avoiding eye contact with the star and his mother. Stallone says he plans to appeal or file the suit in Florida. Just try not to look at him while he does it.

BALMING A producer of celebrity promotional products inked a deal with ‘N Sync to launch a line of lip balms named for the boy band. Each member will have his own flavor: Joey Fatone (Green Apple), Lance Bass (Blue Raspberry), JC Chasez (Watermelon), Chris Kirkpatrick (Strawberry), and Justin Timberlake (Vanilla). Tastes like teen spirit.

PROGRESS Dolly Parton lamented the loss of trees felled for the construction of a 35-acre water park next to Dollywood in her Great Smoky Mountains hometown. At the groundbreaking ceremony she said that workers were doing everything they could to save the 100 year old trees. ”But in order to progress and provide things for people, you kind of have to sacrifice,” she said. True, what’s a few li’l ol’ leaves compared to the importance of an all-new breeding ground for water-born bacteria and country music lovin’ teens.

HELMED Garry Shandling has been tapped to host this year’s Emmys. It will be the actor’s first time heading the awards show, scheduled for Sunday, Sept. 10. ABC may air a special edition of ”Who Wants to Be a Millionaire” as a lead-in to the three-hour broadcast. Regis was reportedly planning a rat feast, but PETA protested the abuse to actors.

HOMAGE Two residents of Britney Spears‘ Louisiana hometown are creating a museum to honor the bubblegum star at the request of fans. Galleries will be devoted to her life as a Mouseketeer and her current status as pop chart topper. There will also be a Britney gift shop. Get your scratch ‘n’ sniff ”Oops!… I Did It Again” stickers here.

BIZ NEWS An underemployed Dustin Hoffman is the latest in a string of celebs to depart International Creative Management. Leelee Sobieski, Russell Crowe, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Eddie Murphy, and Meg Ryan have all recently left the agency.

OBIT David Tomlinson, who starred as father George Banks in the 1964 movie musical ”Mary Poppins,” died after a long illness in Buckinghamshire, England. The British actor appeared in more than 50 films. He was 83.

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