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HOWARD ROSENBERG

Jackson Robs Media of a Sexy Thriller

January 28, 1994|HOWARD ROSENBERG

WANTED: Celebrity qualified for bashing by media. Immediate opening for someone globally known, loved and admired. High visibility a must. Suspected sexual perversion or criminal sickness preferred, but will consider other afflictions or titillatingly kinky behaviors that are highly exploitable and suitable for leading newscasts. Large acreage that choppers with camera crews can fly over an advantage. Desperate for applicants. If interested call 1-800-JACKALS.

Bummer!

Just when the media has another great trial to look forward to, Michael Jackson goes and ruins it all by throwing cash at the 14-year-old boy whose lawsuit alleged that the entertainer had sexually molested him. Just when everyone was revving up. Just when the adrenaline was flowing. Now, this is no knock on Tonya Harding but, quite frankly, she's no Michael. Who wants to fly over an ice rink?

Michael, Michael, Michael. Do we deserve this kick in the pants? Talk about your thoughtless celebrities.

These are trying times. Oh, sure, newscasts and newspapers from New York to Hong Kong are now speculating about how many millions or zillions Jackson paid the boy and whether the settlement has put the kibosh on possible criminal charges against the world's most famous entertainer. And TV can always send up the choppers again for old time's sake, keeping them over Neverland for a week or so and fueling them airborne, the way SAC bombers were perpetually in the sky during the Cold War. And someone can put in a fast call to LaToya and set up another press conference before Sally Jessy or Geraldo get her. She'd be good copy for a day or two.

For the Record
Los Angeles Times Saturday January 29, 1994 Home Edition Calendar Part F Page 2 Column 4 Entertainment Desk 1 inches; 19 words Type of Material: Correction
Wrong number-- The 800 phone number in Howard Rosenberg's column in Friday's Calendar was written as satire and was not meant to be called.

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Also, there's "The Jackson Family Honors" to look forward to. That's the delayed Jackson family special that has now been given a Feb. 22 airdate on NBC, right on cue for ratings sweeps. Will Michael show up? Will the 14-year-old boy show up? Will Liz? Will Michael's personal confessor/press agent, Oprah, emerge from the wings to sit for another Michael Jackson exclusive on the real story, from his lips to America's ears? You can almost see and hear him now: Oprah, how could anyone really believe that I . . . .

Will this all-star cast break out the balloons and confetti? Will all of them appear on stage side by side with their lawyers, faces beaming, raised hands triumphantly fastened together in unity the way former political foes do at Democratic and Republican nominating conventions?

Undoubtedly not. But even if they all do, it just won't be the same. The thrill will be gone, the pitch-black cloud of alleged pedophilia having faded to gray. Nothing much to attack.

Oh, brother. And they say predation is easy work.

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On Wednesday night's "Hard Copy," you could see the sorrow and disappointment in the eyes of Diane Dimond's, eyes that previously had danced with excitement at each mention of Michael Jackson, at each alleged deviant fusion of him with his accuser and other young boys.

Her relentless reporting for "Hard Copy" had made her Michael's tabloid Boswell, so renowned for insider poop that at one point she was interviewed about the case on "CBS This Morning."

But this time, all she had for inquiring minds was a measly brief update, the usual money talk, an unsatisfying few words that hung in the air like a somber obituary for a story that she and her like-minded media lizards had slaved and slithered so hard to distort and hyperbolize. No wonder she seemed deflated.

So what happens now? Where do we go from here? Who becomes the next sacrifice on the altar of the people's right to know? Lorena's on the way out. Bill and Hillary seem impenetrable. Tonya and Nancy can't last forever. Who else will come along now to nourish the sucklings of the media and the monologues of Leno and Letterman, who else to have their miseries become the public's intravenous drippings?

The answer could be as near as tonight's headlines.

If Jackson's lawyers are counting on media fickleness--that after an interim period of mourning about the settlement, interest will atrophy to the point that Jackson will be able to spin his version of the truth in his venue of choice without being cross-examined--they have history on their side. The record stretches endlessly.

Whether the venues are international or domestic, TV in particular springs from one hot spot or torrid subject to another like someone hopping barefoot across sizzling coals. You only have to examine the broad ethnic demographics of the media's targets to see just how ludicrous it was to imply (as some have) that racism was behind the unfair Jackson coverage. In going for the jugular, red is the only color that attracts predators.

When it comes to finessing the media, the Jackson entourage knows what it's doing, as does Larry R. Feldman, attorney for the 14-year-old boy. Feldman's tight-lipped circumspection on TV this week is a screeching U-turn from his earlier strategy, when he saw verbosity in front of the cameras as being in his client's best interest.

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