Spokane business owner Erick Hansen, who for two years has tried without success to make the city a hub for Blu-ray disc technology, has forged a partnership with Joe Jackson, father of the late king of pop, Michael Jackson.
News of the deal emerged in the days just after the death of Jackson’s son. Numerous online comments and fan sites have criticized Jackson for drawing attention to his record business during interviews about his son.
Efforts to reach Joe Jackson were unsuccessful.Terri Bingham, an attorney who represents Jackson, said the 80-year old music manager is suffering “acute stress disorder” and needs time to process the impact of his son’s death. “He won’t be able to talk with the media at this time” about the music project, said Bingham, a Los Angeles attorney who has worked with Jackson for 20 years.
Bingham said Joe Jackson and another entertainment producer, Marshall Thompson, a founding member of soul vocal group The Chi-Lites, formed the idea of a record label late last year.
The two men invited Hansen this year to be a partner to help the company, tentatively called Mar-Ance Records, use “the latest, best technology” so its performers will reach more fans, Bingham said.
Hansen is considered a pioneer in the DVD business, credited with making the first DVD game discs and other innovations.
He launched BlueRay Technologies in downtown Spokane in 2007, claiming the manufacturing plant would employ up to 20 people initially and produce 100,000 high-definition Blu-ray discs a day. But the company has been the subject of several lawsuits, and as of late May it hadn’t produced any discs, according to previous news stories.
Hansen said equipment problems and a tough economy have held back the disc business.
Late last year Hansen launched a second company, BlueStar Technologies, and said he would launch new production sites outside Washington, including one in England. Those plants have not been built.
Hansen said in an interview that Joe Jackson wanted to buy his disc-making company 13 years ago.
“I didn’t sell it to him, but we remained good friends,” he said.
Hansen said Jackson approached him to be a partner.
Hansen said he has arranged for Thompson and Jackson to visit Spokane.
Scott Hettrick, a blogger for HollywoodInHiDef.com, an entertainment site, said he interviewed the three partners June 29 near the Encino, Calif., home of the elder Jackson. During the interview, part of which can be seen on YouTube, the three described plans to use Blu-ray technology to take advantage of advanced features, such as live interviews with artists, Web-connected videos and other attractions.
That video was made four days after Michael Jackson died. Hansen said during that interview he believed Joe Jackson needed the business venture as a distraction and a relief from the emotional impact of his son’s death.
Jackson also met with media in Los Angeles on the same day and plugged his new record label, reigniting criticism.
Hettrick said Joe Jackson told him his new label has no plans to release any of Michael Jackson’s music in the near future, and may not have the rights to those recordings.
Hansen said the new label will not be based in Spokane.“The technology that we’ll use is all here where we are developing it,” Hansen said. “We want to change the face of entertainment. We want to allow people to interact with the producers and the great artists who they enjoy. That’s what we’re developing (in Spokane),” he said.
While the label will not be based in Spokane, it will likely have offices in Los Angeles and Chicago where Thompson lives, Hettrick said.