February 12, 2004 10:44 AM

The legal drama surrounding Michael Jackson continues in a Los Angeles courtroom Friday, but the Gloved One won’t be on hand to see it, the Associated Press reports.

Jackson will skip the session, at which a date for his preliminary hearing will be discussed. The first evidence against Jackson, who is charged with child molestation, will be presented at the preliminary hearing.

Meanwhile, there are more new reports saying that Jackson has fallen into serious financial trouble.

According to The New York Times, Jackson is expected to repay a $70 million loan to Bank of America on Tuesday, but he does not have the cash to cover it. Al Malnik, a Miami businessman, is reportedly helping Jackson’s business managers straighten out the singer’s financial affairs. The bank loan is guaranteed by Jackson’s music catalog, which includes such songs as “Billie Jean” and “Beat It,” from his 1982 album “Thriller.”

Malnik, owner of the national chain Title Loans of America, has stated that he is helping Jackson out of friendship.

Although Jackson has other means of income, including royalties from the profits of the Beatles catalog that he owns jointly with Sony Music Entertainment, his rights to these songs guarantee other outstanding loans Jackson has.

According to the Times, the pop star is seemingly unaware of his financial situation. Sources close to Jackson told the paper that he is spending close to $2 million a month, often on shopping sprees.

Meanwhile, in Jackson’s case, attorneys on Friday also will discuss the unveiling of several search warrants that Judge Rodney S. Melville has ordered sealed. A number of news organizations are trying to gain access to the information in those warrants. Also at issue will be the gag order placed on parties involved in the case. Judge Melville may change the order so that attorneys in the case can correct inaccurate information, AP reports.

Raymone K. Bain, a new spokeswoman for Jackson, said the singer would take more control of standing up for himself. “He is tired of the circus-like atmosphere surrounding him,” she said.

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