*A judge approved a pay bump Monday for the executors of Michael Jackson’s estate who turned the debt-ridden singer’s portfolio into a business that has earned hundreds of millions of dollars since his death.
Superior Court Judge Mitchell Beckloff allowed attorney John Branca and music executive John McClain to bill the estate separately for their professional services, which include entertainment-related legal counsel and use of a recording studio founded by Marvin Gaye.
Attorneys for Branca and McClain sought the change, saying the executors spend an increasing amount of time on Jackson’s estate and have been paying legal expenses to Branca’s firm out of their share of the earnings.
The men agreed in February 2010 to accept 10 percent of the gross entertainment-related earnings of the estate, minus money generated by Jackson’s 50 percent interest in the Sony-ATV music catalog and earnings from “This Is It,” a film compiled from the singer’s final rehearsals.
The exclusions are huge revenue generators for the estate — the Sony-ATV catalog includes publishing rights to music by The Beatles, Elvis Presley, Bob Dylan and other stars. The executors also have been excluded an interest in Jackson’s music, which has sold briskly since his death June 25 at age 50.
Since then, the estate has earned more than $310 million.
Branca and McClain have been earning closer to 7 percent of the estate’s entertainment-related earnings, as the estate has become a “massive entertainment business enterprise,” court filings state.
Branca and McClain said they are spending more time developing Jackson projects than anticipated, including music, video games and a touring Cirque-du-Soleil show that will eventually become a Las Vegas fixture.
Under the deal approved Monday, Branca’s firm Ziffren Brittenham LLP will now receive 3 percent of entertainment-related income generated by Jackson’s estate.