Michael Jackson's "Thriller" video is generally considered to be one of the greatest music videos of all time. The 14 minute epic, which debuted in 1983, was a watershed moment in the music industry, influencing countless artists after its release, and serving as a measuring stick for every music video that followed it. As an homage to its influence, the video is receiving the 3D treatment, with the director of the original video, John Landis. premiering a 3D version of "Thriller" at the Venice Film Festival last week. But as a result of the 3D version's release, a key character of the video is set to sue Michael Jackson's estate.
Ola Ray, who is now 57 years old, is a former Playboy centerfold who played Michael Jackson's girlfriend in the video for "Thriller." Ray claims that she is entitled to 2.5 percent of all royalties generated from "Thriller," after an agreement with the late Michael Jackson himself, and plans to take Jackson's estate to court. In an interview with Daily Mail, Ray said that she is "outraged, upset, and in shock" as a result of the release of the 3D version, re-released by Optimum Productions, without the director contacting her prior.
According to Ray, she has only received $200,000 since 1983, the year of the original video's release, and claims that the directors never tried to negotiate anything prior to the 3D version's release. Ray said in the interview that if she doesn't get what she believes is rightfully hers, that the video shouldn't see the light of day.
"They will make millions more out of this… If I'm not getting paid, no one should be able to see it."
The former model was initially paid just $2,500 for her role in the video, and was awarded $75,000 for back payment of royalties in a court case in 2012, but had to pay $20,000 for attorney fees.
Ray says she is living below the poverty line as a result of not being paid royalty fees from "Thriller."
'Despite what I was promised I ended up having to raise my daughter, who is now 22, basically on welfare… I have had to live below my means and in poverty because of this… If I had been receiving the money I should have received my life would be drastically different."
Ray isn't the only person who claimed they were owed more money for their role on Jackson's iconic 'Thriller' album. Earlier this year, a jury ruled that Quincy Jones, the producer of the 'Thriller' album, was owed $9.4 million in royalty and fees by Jackson's estate. Jackson's estate claimed the Jones was only owed a little under $400,000.