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Jackson not liable for spec

A federal court judge has ruled that Michael Jackson is not liable for losses incurred by the producers of the failed 1994 “Jackson Family Honors” TV spec.

The flop cost Smith-Hemion Prods. more than $1.6 million and spawned several lawsuits in two states aimed at the pop star and his family.

While lawyers for Smith-Hemion can appeal the court’s ruling, which was handed down late Wednesday by U.S. District Court judge Laughlin Waters, it for now settles the producer’s assertion that Jackson promised to perform on the program.

Smith-Hemion claimed the entertainer breached his contract and his failure to perform adversely affected the show.

Program delay

The show was delayed for several weeks because Jackson was ill, and it was moved from Atlantic City, N.J., to Las Vegas. The producer’s claimed the move was to accommodate Jackson’s schedule.

“Michael never wanted (Smith-Hemion) not to get paid. They worked very hard,” Jackson’s attorney Zia Modabber told Daily Variety. “But what Michael did not care for was the public embarrassment created by the producer’s (public) attacks on his friends and family in an attempt to force a settlement. This ruling proves what we believed all along: Michael was not responsible for the producer’s (losses).”

No solo Jacko

Jackson did not perform solo as some had expected, although he sang with other performers.

He also presented an award to Elizabeth Taylor, who had to admonish the vocal audience during the show that Jackson was not going to perform.

“We’re disappointed to learn no one in the entertainment industry can take Michael Jackson at his word,” Smith-Hemion attorney William Briggs said. “Smith-Hemion intends to explore all of its legal options available to it.” Briggs said an appeal is likely.

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