Casey Kasem’s final years, including his controversial death, are being explored in a shocking podcast.
An Audible new series, titled “Bitter Blood: Kasem vs. Kasem,” promises to detail surprising insights into the events preceding the radio legend’s passing and the eventual wrongful death lawsuit filed against his widow by his three eldest children and his brother, Deadline.com reported.
According to the outlet, “Bitter Blood” will reveal evidence and testimony prepared for the trial that has never been seen or heard by the public. The series will be narrated by family friend Martin Kove and will highlight firsthand accounts from close pal Mike Curb, protege Ryan Seacrest, as well as the late star’s daughter Kerri Kasem, who serves as an executive producer.
Casey Kasem passed away in 2014 at age 82. (Chris Polk/FilmMagic/Getty Images)
“I wanted the doctors, the nurses, the caretakers and my father’s friends who knew what was going on to share their perspective,” Kerri told Fox News. “I wanted to get this story out there. And this is closure for me. I don’t want to make this my whole life. People have heard my voice for seven years. But the silver lining is that I have helped so many people in the same situation.”
In 2019, family members of Kasem settled dueling lawsuits alleging that the longtime “American Top 40” host and voice actor was badly mistreated before his death in 2014 at age 82.
The two sides filed a joint request in Los Angeles Superior Court to dismiss a wrongful death lawsuit by three of Kasem’s children and his brother against Kasem’s widow, which claimed her neglect and physical abuse led to his death, as well as a countersuit making similar claims against the plaintiffs that were filed by his widow and another daughter.
Actress Jean Kasem was married to Casey Kasem from 1980 until his death in 2014. (Photo by Suzi Pratt/Getty Images)
The first lawsuit was a lingering chapter in a series of heated and often public fights between Kasem’s children and his second wife, former actress Jean Kasem, that began before his death. The wrongful death lawsuit accused Jean, who was married to Kasem for 34 years, of elder abuse and of inflicting emotional distress on his children by restricting their access to him before his death.
Jean, who starred in “Cheers” and “Ghostbusters,” denied all of the allegations. The 67-year-old countersued and alleged that Kasem’s children were motivated by money after he cut them off financially in 2012. Jean also alleged that they brought emotional distress not only to her but to the ailing patriarch. All the claims were denied by the family.
The two sides fought bitterly over access to Kasem and control of his medical care before he died. Police and prosecutors in California and Washington, where he passed away, investigated Kasem’s treatment and death. They found no evidence of criminal wrongdoing.
Kerri Kasem said she hopes to raise awareness on elder abuse, which can impact families no matter their financial status. (Valerie Macon/Getty Images)
“The settlement is not what I wanted at all,” said Kerri, 48. “It was one of the most horrific days of my life. That mediation agreement was not anything I would have agreed to. Let’s just put it this way — there is litigation going on because of that. I hope [this podcast] ruffles some feathers. I hope I do get my day in court.”
A rep for Jean, 67, didn’t respond to Fox News’ multiple requests for comment. But in 2019, the actress told Fox News in a lengthy statement that Kerri’s quest to honor her father is far from noble.
“Casey and I were lovingly married for 34 years,” she wrote in a statement. “We have a daughter named Liberty. Casey’s adult children Kerri, Julie and Mike, from a prior marriage… grew up with their mother and have a deep-seated hatred towards me, who only financially supported them throughout their lives. When Kerri, Julie and Mike became involved with Scientology, Casey and I financially cut them off. They then attempted to frame me with a vicious character assassination campaign, seeking media attention to disseminate a false narrative and extort money from me.”
Radio personality Casey Kasem, wife Jean Kasem, daughter Kerri Kasem, son Michael Kasem and daughter Julie Kasem attend the Lebanon-Syrian American Society of Greater Los Angeles Man of the Year Awards on January 25, 1985, at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel in Beverly Hills, California. ( Ron Galella/Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images)
“Kerri and Julie also weaponized the Los Angeles Adult Protective Services and Police against me,” she alleged. “Both L.A. APS and LAPD found their allegations to be completely false. When the Kasem sisters filed their first Guardianship attempt of Casey in Los Angeles on October 7, 2013, their first request was to cease all life-sustaining measures for Casey, based on a suspect Durable Power of Attorney procured with undue influence in a UPS store in 2007, which they deceptively concealed for six years.”
“The court found that I had the proper Advance Care Directive for my husband and that Casey was receiving ‘excellent care’ in the privacy of our family home,” she continued. “The first Guardianship attempt of Casey was ‘denied with prejudice’ and closed on January 14, 2014. The Kasem sisters filed a second Guardianship of Casey in Los Angeles on May 7, 2014. With the same systematic pattern of abuse, the Kasem sisters weaponized the Washington State Adult Protective Services and Sheriff’s Office against me, who also found the allegations to be completely false.”
“The Kasem sisters then chased Casey, me and Liberty to Washington State, where they tricked a local Judge into taking Casey to a hospital for a supposed ‘independent medical evaluation.’ On June 1, 2014, once the Kasem sisters had Casey entrapped and chemically restrained, they had Liberty and me banned from the hospital, while they had already begun the process to terminate Casey’s life. I fought valiantly to save my husband from the homicidal Guardianship scheme. Casey was pronounced dead in Washington State on June 15, 2014.
Disc jockey, TV personality and actor Casey Kasem and wife Jean Kasem attend the St. Jude Children’s Hospital Benefit Gala on August 30, 1986, at the Century Plaza Hotel in Los Angeles, California. (Getty)
“Appearing anything but grief-stricken, the Kasem sisters’ monetary motive became clear when they immediately filed a claim for a $2,100,000 life insurance policy, insuring Casey’s life. Every single allegation made by the co-conspirators against me was proven to be completely false. To this day, Liberty and I continue to grieve the loss of Casey. Our faith in God helps us through it, believing that the co-conspirators will soon be brought to justice.”
At the time when Jean released her statement, Kerri immediately denied the allegations and said “every single year Jean Kasem’s story changes.”
Today, Kerri insisted the family drama began long before her father’s death.
“We felt that if my dad ever got sick, we would never see him again,” she alleged. “We knew she would keep him from us because she tried that during her entire marriage… She called us ‘the old family’ whereas she was ‘the new family.’ It was a divide that she created. She could have had a family who loved her, but she didn’t want that.”
Kerri Kasem has been outspoken about her father’s life and controversial death over the years. (Photo by Suzi Pratt/Getty Images)
Kerri said that an assumption people often make is that her motivation has always been money. However, she said that theory is far from the truth.
“We were never in it for the money,” she explained. “I can’t tell you how many times I told the court in front of the cameras, ‘Take the money.’ We just wanted to see dad. I have a great job. I have enough money. We all support ourselves. Whenever it was suggested we stole money, my response was, ‘Here’s our bank account.’ I’m an open book. All we wanted was to see our father… I don’t care where the money goes. That’s what we were fighting for, to be with our father. He was my hero, my life. I would have done anything for him.”
Kasem had a form of dementia and a severe bedsore when he died at a hospital in Gig Harbor, southwest of Seattle, Billboard.com reported. Kerri said hearing the stories of other families experiencing similar struggles has kept her going over the years.
Kerri and Casey Kasem. (Courtesy Kerri Kasem)
“The media only focuses on a celebrity’s last name,” she said. “But there are many people out there who can’t see their loved ones because they’re being taken advantage of. There needs to be consequences… This podcast was so cathartic, not only for me but for my family, friends and co-workers who participated. They loved my dad and wanted the truth out there as much as I do… This is a horrifying story, but it’s also going to wake people up.”
Kerri advises all families to have those uncomfortable conversations that will prevent even more grief down the road.
“Make sure you have your will and estate plans in order,” she warned. “It’s not just about the money. What are your final wishes? Have those conversations while you’re still competent and can still have a say in your life. If you don’t make a plan, someone else is going to make a plan for you. And I guarantee that you’re not going to like it.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.