Michael Jackson may be dead, but his legacy of bizarre behavior lives on. At least among his family members, who have been engaged in a five-star meltdown worthy of the seediest reality show in the last few days.
The former King of Pop's kin have done their worst to dominate the headlines with an increasingly sordid family saga centered on the mysterious disappearance of family matriarch Katherine Jackson. (The woman who literally gave birth to this whole dysfunctional mess spent nearly two weeks holed up in Arizona under nebulous circumstances before returning to the family home in Calabasas, Calif. on Thursday,)
At the heart of it all, of course, is money, the root of all evil and, in this case, insanity. MJ's brother Randy and a handful of his other siblings have maneuvered to shift the King of Pop's estate — which has increased by many of millions of dollars since the "Beat It" singer's 2009 death — out of the control of its current executors, and are apparently using Katherine as a pawn to achieve their aims. Michael Jackson's younger brother Randy, in particular, has claimed that his deceased brother's will is fraudulent. (Perhaps not coincidentally, Randy wasn't included in the will.)
With the updates coming fast, furious and icky in this story, TheWrap presents a primer on the players who populate the progressively bizarre Jackson family circus.
Read on for a crash course on the major players in this whole sad affair.
Randy Jackson: The younger brother of Michael Jackson, Randy is reported to be the mastermind behind the plot to oust Jackson estate executors John Branca and John McClain, and has repeatedly accused Branca and McClain of wrongdoing in the media.
Janet Jackson: Michael Jackson's sister Janet — along with siblings Randy, Jermaine, Rebbie and Tito — wrote a letter accusing McClain and Branca of wrongdoing and calling MJ's will "fake, flawed and fraudulent." She was also captured on security footage at the Jackson family's Calabasas home apparently trying to take a cell phone away from the singer's daughter Paris and scolding her for airing the family's dirty laundry on Twitter.
Tito Jackson: MJ's brother Tito also signed the letter urging McClain and Branca to be ousted as executors, though he has since retracted his support for it, saying, "I don't want any part of that letter whatsoever." With that kind of flip-flopping, can he really be trusted?
Jermaine Jackson: Regarded in some reports as Randy Jackson's main co-conspirator in the effort to remove Branca and McClain. According to sources who spoke to TMZ, Jermaine hatched a plan with Randy to make it appear that Katherine is infirm, with the possible intention of becoming her conservators — which would put about $70,000 a month in their hands.
Rebbie Jackson (not pictured): The eldest of Michael Jackson's siblings, Rebbie has kept a remarkably low profile — until the last few days, when her decision to align herself with Randy by signing the now-infamous letter thrust her into the spotlight.
Paris Jackson: The daughter of Michael Jackson, 14-year-old Paris has been particularly vocal about condemning her relatives' shenanigans, particularly via social media. Of course, what girl her age doesn't incessantly complain about her family over the internet these days?
Blanket Jackson: The King of Pop's youngest heir, Blanket (nee Prince Michael Jackson II) has so far avoided his uncle Randy's machinations — possibly because he's still experiencing lingering bitterness over that whole balcony-dangling incident in Berlin when he was an infant and just wants to stay out of things altogether
T.J. Jackson: The son of Tito Jackson, T.J. was granted temporary guardianship of Paris, Blanket and their sibling Prince on Wednesday, while the mess surrounding their regular guardian, grandmother Katherine, is sorted out.
John Branca: An entertainment attorney who is co-executor of Michael Jackson's estate, Branca has been targeted by Randy Jackson, who accused him of criminal misconduct and is attempting to get him ousted from his executorship. He was also instrumental in getting Jackson's "Thriller" video made, a fact for which we can all be grateful.
John McClain (not pictured): A music industry executive who is the other executor of Jackson's estate, McClain has also been targeted by Randy Jackson.
"Prince" Michael Jackson Jr. (not pictured): Michael Jackson's oldest son, Prince weighed in on his family's tangled situation on Thursday, tweeting that his grandmother was "misguided" and "lied to." "I'm really angry and hurt," Prince added, claiming, "we were denied contact to our grandmother" during her entire 10-day absence.
ON THE SIDELINES
Joe Jackson: The patriarch of the Jackson clan, Joe was notably left out of his son's will and has steered clear of the controversy — though he did show up at a Jackson family residence in Encino this week to capture a tiny corner of the spotlight.
La Toya Jackson: Regarded by many as the biggest nut on the Jackson family tree, La Toya has displayed a rare glimmer of sanity by staying out of this whole mess.
Trent Jackson: Katherine's nephew and employee (until recently, anyway), Trent prevented Randy, Jermaine and Janet from removing the kids from Katherine's Calabasas home, reportedly putting Randy in a headlock and punching Jermaine in the mouth. Actions that might make him the hero in this whole saga. Nonetheless, he was fired by Katherine and booted from the property shortly thereafter.
Debbie Rowe: Paris and Prince's mother, Rowe's contact with her children is limited to supervised visitation, and she has primarily watched this saga unfold from afar.