LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Michael Jackson's family members found themselves at the center of a media firestorm on Tuesday over the late singer's will and guardianship of his three children that prompted questions about the children, his mother and his multimillion-dollar estate.
The executors of Jackson's estate attempted to stanch reports they plan to seek guardianship of the "Thriller" singer's children over 82-year-old family matriarch Katherine Jackson, but did express concern for protecting the three children from "undue influences, bullying and greed."
Katherine Jackson was given guardianship of Prince Michael, 15, Paris, 14 and Blanket, 10, following Jackson's death at age 50 from an overdose of the surgical anesthetic propofol in 2009.
In recent days, Katherine Jackson was reported to police as missing, but she turned up in the Arizona home of her daughter, Rebbie, and police closed their case on Monday.
"She's been playing cards every day. She is having a good time. Her health was ailing. And her doctors order(ed) that she get immediate rest, isolate herself from the outside world and rest. She wasn't doing too well," Michael's brother Randy Jackson told Rev. Al Sharpton on cable TV network MSNBC.
Randy Jackson also renewed claims that Jackson estate executors - John Branca and John McClain - had concocted a scheme to forge the pop star's signature on a will that made the pair administrators of Michael Jackson's estate.
The Los Angeles-based executives have for years rejected such claims over the estate that, with rights to numerous pop songs, is valued in the hundreds of millions of dollars.
Jackson's interview followed a statement from Branca and McClain on Tuesday in which they said: "We are acutely concerned about the welfare of Mrs. Jackson, and most particularly with Michael's minor children. We are concerned that we do what we can to protect them from undue influences, bullying, greed, and other unfortunate circumstances.
"While we do not have standing to directly intervene, we have monitored the situation and will continue to do so. We believe measures are being put in place that will help protect them from what they are having to deal with," Branca and McClain said in the joint statement.
NEW TURMOIL, OLD CLAIMS
Michael's daughter Paris tweeted on Tuesday that she hadn't spoken to her grandmother in nine days. Celebrity website TMZ.com reported that Branca and McClain would head to court to support a move for temporary guardianship of Jackson's children on behalf of Tito Jackson Jr., 34, the son of Tito Jackson and cousin to Jackson's children.
ABC television chat program "Good Morning America" posted a video taken from what it claimed was a security camera of a confrontation among family members in the driveway of the Jackson's Los Angeles-area home.
In his interview with Sharpton, Randy Jackson said he and his sister Janet Jackson went there on Monday but "were kind of denied access."
"We did go to the home to let Paris and Prince know that they can visit with or talk to their grandma at any time," Jackson said. "This is all an effort to try to deflect attention away from a letter that was written asking for the resignation of John Branca and John McClain."
The letter, signed by Jackson siblings Tito, Randy, Jermaine, Janet and Rebbie, claimed that the Jackson estate executors had presented a fraudulent will of the late singer to the family and their actions were affecting Katherine's health.
When the letter surfaced last week, the executors issued a statement saying "any doubts about the validity of Michael's will and his selection of executors were thoroughly and completely debunked two years ago when a challenge was rejected by the Los Angeles County Superior Court, the California Court of Appeals and, finally, the California Supreme Court."
On Sharpton's show, Jackson repeated past claims that his brother could not have signed the will because he was in New York City the weekend of the signing. Sharpton showed a video of him and Jackson that he said was taken that weekend in New York.
In his will, Jackson had stipulated that money earned by his estate would benefit his mother and his three children.
(Reporting By Piya Sinha-Roy; Editing by Bob Tourtellotte and Stacey Joyce)