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MJ merchandise deal approved

LOS ANGELES, Aug 18 – A judge approved a deal Monday to sell Michael Jackson merchandise but attorneys for the legendary singer’s mother and the administrators of his estate disagreed on a proposed memorabilia tour.

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Mitchell Beckloff gave the green light to an agreement that would see clothing and other merchandise hit store shelves, with proceeds benefiting the King of Pop’s estate.

But lawyers, including a newly appointed special guardian representing the financial interests of Jackson’s three orphaned children, continued their bickering over concert promoter AEG Live and merchandiser Bravado International Group’s plans to organize an exhibition of the singer’s belongings.

Beckloff set an evidentiary hearing for Friday to determine whether the tour could go forward.

The deal is expected to generate between five and six million dollars for the estate and "maybe more," AEG attorney Kathie Jorrie told AFP, adding it would take place in three cities that she declined to name.

AEG wants the tour to launch at the same time as "This Is It," a film to be released worldwide starting on October 30 drawn from footage of Jackson’s final rehearsals for a planned series of London concerts.

"We cannot put off a hearing till next week," Jorrie said. "We need to start building the exhibition on Monday."

But Burt Levitch, an lawyer representing Katherine Jackson, urged patience.

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"We feel that it’s important for the family to have a seat at the table," he told reporters. "It’s not about making a quick buck."

AEG is pressing for a quick resolution so it can seize on the pop star’s appeal after his June 25 death shocked the world, a notion not lost on the administrators of Jackson’s estate.

"There may be some opportunities we have lost or are losing because of the delay," lamented Howard Weitzman, an attorney for the administrators of the estate.

The hearing also marked the first appearance of Margaret Lodise, who was appointed by Beckloff last week to safeguard the financial interests of Jackson’s children Prince Michael, 12, Paris, 11, and seven-year-old Prince Michael II, during business negotiations.

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