Ola Ray, who played Michael Jackson's girlfriend in the legendary music video for Thriller, says she is "outraged, upset and in shock" after learning of the planned release of the new 3D version of the classic video/short film directed by John Landis.
The newly restored and fully 3D version of Thriller was premiered at the Venice Film Festival earlier this month. It was the fruition of Landis's long-held plan to restore the 14 minute original. Optimum Productions now intends to release Thriller 3D version, prompting the response from Ray, who says she is owed 2.5 percent of total royalties on the short, according to the contract she signed.
Now 56, she claims she's been paid about $153k in 34 years since it came out in 1983 and lived below the poverty line with her daughter. "I was so excited about being in Thriller. I probably would've done it for nothing but Michael gave me a contract. Despite what I was promised I ended up having to raise my daughter basically on welfare."
In 2012 the ex-glamour model won $55,000 for back payment of royalties following a court battle, and is now planning to sue the Jackson estate over the release of Thriller 3D, according to Mail Online. Her lawyer Scott Cole said: "Shutting her out of her full royalties all these years hardly honours the memory of Michael or the spirit of the relevant contracts."
Landis himself was in disputes with the Jackson estate over royalties for years. He's now settled, allowing the Thriller restoration project to proceed, and now Landis says that two other Jackson legacy projects are in the works.