June 29, 2009

Jackson's mother files for custody of his three children

Posted: 12:05 PM ET

Michael Jackson's mother filed a petition Monday in Los Angeles Probate Court seeking legal guardianship of her son's three children, CNN has confirmed.

A hearing was scheduled for August 3 on Katherine Jackson's petition.

Michael Jackson's father, Joe Jackson, told CNN on Sunday evening that he and his wife expected to keep the children.

"We're not trying to get custody," Jackson said. "We will get custody and have custody."

An autopsy was performed on Michael Jackson Friday, and toxicology reports from his body will disprove rumors that the singer's personal physician injected him with powerful painkillers, the attorney for Dr. Conrad Murray said Monday.

"Dr. Murray never prescribed Demerol, never administered Demerol, never saw him - Michael Jackson - take Demerol," attorney Edward Chernoff told CNN's "American Morning."

"And that goes as well for Oxycontin. I think those are just rumors. When toxicology comes back ... that's going to be all cleared up," Chernoff said.

Murray met voluntarily for several hours with detectives over the weekend, the Los Angeles Police Department said late Saturday.


Filed under: Breaking News • Larry King Live • Michael Jackson

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Funeral for Farrah Fawcett set for Tuesday

Posted: 08:02 AM ET

A private funeral service for actress Farrah Fawcett will be conducted Tuesday afternoon at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels in downtown Los Angeles, California, according to her publicist.

The family did not release any details about who would deliver the eulogy or how many people have been invited.

Fawcett, the blonde actress whose best-selling poster and "Charlie's Angels" stardom made her one of the most famous faces in the world, died Thursday. She was 62, and had been battling anal cancer on and off for three years.

Fawcett's beauty - her gleaming smile was printed on millions of posters - initially made her famous. But she later established herself as a serious actress. She starred as a battered wife in the 1984 TV movie "The Burning Bed."

She appeared on stage as a woman who extracts vengeance from a would-be rapist in William Mastrosimone's play "Extremities," a performance she reprised on film in 1986.

Filed under: Farrah Fawcett

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Joe Jackson: I have 'concerns' about Michael's doctor

Posted: 07:30 AM ET

Michael Jackson's father says he is concerned about the last moments of his son's life and about the personal physician who found the pop icon unconscious at the singer's estate.

"I have a lot of concerns," Joe Jackson told CNN from the red carpet leading up to the BET Awards ceremony Sunday night. "I can't get into that, but I don't like what happened."

Michael Jackson's personal physician, who was questioned extensively by investigators over the weekend, found the singer not breathing in bed when he entered the singer's estate last week, according to the law firm representing the doctor.

However, Jackson did have a slight pulse when Dr. Conrad Murray discovered him Thursday, and Murray tried to resuscitate the singer as he awaited paramedics, a representative with the law firm of Stradley, Chernoff and Alford law firm in Houston, Texas, told CNN Sunday.

Attorney Edward Chernoff is representing Murray. The law firm said reports that Murray injected Jackson with powerful painkillers, such as Demerol or Oxycontin, were false.


Filed under: Larry King Live • Michael Jackson

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June 28, 2009

Did dancing in 'The Wiz' ultimately lead to Michael Jackson's death?

Posted: 09:17 PM ET

by Steve Spears via is going to seem a little far-fetched, but no more so than the other Michael Jackson death conspiracies floating around: Did breaking his nose during 'The Wiz' put the King of Pop on a collision course with death?

(Bear with me. This theory was developed only a few short hours ago at my barber shop, where all great thinking is done. It takes regular maintenance after all to keep my 'do so perfectly spiky.)

According to multiple reports, Jackson broke his nose during dance rehearsals for The Wiz, the 1978 film with Diana Ross that made Ease on Down the Road such a classic. Cosmetic surgery was required (or at least chosen by Jackson) to get it back into shape.

So here's the theory: Once you cross that plastic surgery line, crossing it again is easier and easier. (Ask the "Real Housewives" from Atlanta, Orange County and NYC.) It's like getting a tattoo: Ever meet many people with just ONE tattoo? They're always balancing them out, adding a new one. Just one more, they keep promising. Same goes for plastic surgery, I imagine. Another nip. Another tuck. Another nose.

(Read More)

Filed under: Larry King Live • Michael Jackson

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Taped: Jackson's Last Night Alive, Could Be CD, DVD

Posted: 06:41 PM ET

t1home_michael_jackson_05_giMichael Jackson’s last rehearsal at the Staples Center on Wednesday, the eve of his death, was recorded in multi-camera, high-definition video and multi-track audio, and could be released as the performer’s last album, according to several people close to the now-defunct concert tour.

The recordings were made as part of concert promotion company AEG Live’s deal with Jackson, which included a plan to produce both an album and DVD of what Jackson had billed his “final performance” tour, titled “This Is It.”

The entertainer died of heart failure on Thursday.

Randy Phillips, president and CEO of AEG Live, the nation's second largest concert promoter, emailed that he would not comment for the story.

The recordings also could be used to produce both a DVD or Blu-ray disc of the entertainer’s last performance - the entertainer singing his greatest hits.

One AEG official boasted to a colleague this weekend, “We have a live album in the can.”

And what an album it would be. Amazon, record stores and retailers like Barnes and Noble sold of all Michael Jackson stock almost immediately - and in a matter of minutes following the news of Jackson’s death, in the case of Amazon.

Press reports have said that AEG Live stands to lose tens of millions of dollars from the unexpected cancellation of Jackson’s 50-date London tour.

But any audio and video release of the final concert would undoubtedly sell millions - if not tens of milllions - of units worldwide and would be the music industry’s equivalent of a license to print money.

Jackson had failed to appear at many of the scheduled rehearsals in Los Angeles over the past two months. But he did show up at a full rehearsal at the Staples Center of his scheduled July 13 London concert on the night before his death.

(Read More)

Filed under: Larry King Live • Michael Jackson

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In case you missed it...and just for fun

Posted: 06:30 PM ET

1,500 plus CPDRC inmates of the Cebu Provincial Detention and Rehabilitation Center, Cebu, Philippines at practice.  This is not the final routine, and definitely not a punishment, just a teaser.


Filed under: Larry King Live • Michael Jackson

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Commentary: Farrah in the morning

Posted: 06:21 PM ET
By Bob Greene
CNN Contributor

Editor's note: CNN Contributor Bob Greene is a best-selling author whose new book, "Late Edition: A Love Story," will be published next month.

Bob Greene recalls Farrah Fawcett's cheerful greetings to the crew every morning on a movie set.

Farrah-TS(CNN) - She would come walking across the lawn just after sunrise.

The days and nights had been long; everyone else, as darkness turned into dawn, looked wrung out and worn down and weary.

She just glowed.

"Morning!" she would say, flashing that zillion-watt smile, greeting each of us by name.

"Morning, Farrah," we would say back, feeling gray and dull in her presence.

This was at the La Quinta resort near Palm Springs, California, almost 20 years ago. The only piece of writing of mine that was ever turned into a feature film was being shot there. Farrah was one of the female leads.

At least she, and we, thought she was. More on that later.

She seemed to be an awfully nice person. That much I can tell you, from my limited time with her as she made that movie. She did her best to try to make the people around her forget just how all-reaching her fame was. There is a stratum of renown that is separate from the variety that accrues to most performers; Michael Jackson, who died on the same day as she, knew that type of renown, and so did she. Regardless of the role, she was always destined to be, in the eyes of the public, Farrah. That had to have been both a blessing and an encumbrance.

Most people in show business would do just about anything to possess that level of connection with the people out in the seats - to move through life having everyone in the world feel they know you. It must be difficult, though, to bury yourself in a fictional part when, inside, you are resigned to the idea that, to the unseen ticket buyers in the darkness, you are, now and always, Farrah.

Any person with whom she had contact, however brief, would remember it for years. She understood that. She was golden, literally; it was her calling card. At breakfast, on the mornings she would join the crew, we would sit around long wooden catering tables, and there was a what's-wrong-with-this-picture aspect to the scene. These were mundane meals, and she was anything but. Or that's what we thought. Farrah? She was just getting ready to put in a day's work.

The movie itself - it was called "Funny About Love"– turned out to be quite forgettable. The male lead was played by Gene Wilder; the three women in his life were played, as the script was written, by Christine Lahti, Mary Stuart Masterson and Farrah. Everyone on the set seemed to get along, but what do I know? I'd never been on another set. After a lifetime of grunted hellos from assistant city editors, this was quite a change. Those dawns on the desert, those cast-and-crew breakfasts, those "Morning!"s from Farrah as she strolled across the grass.

Steve Allen, a luminary in the early days of television and a cogent observer of the world around him, said that when people see a person who is regularly on TV, it is as if the television performer emits a glow. The glow is invisible, yet it's there. And when a person who once was constantly on television suddenly isn't on television anymore, Allen said, it is as if the glow evaporates. It's gone.

Maybe he was right - but with Farrah, the glow endured. It never went away. Another accomplished television performer - Phil Donahue - argued that there was no essential difference between Frank Sinatra's fame and the fame of a local TV weathercaster. Donahue's point was that you're either famous or you're not; there's no in-between. If you deliver the weather news on your town's most popular station, then everyone within the county line knows you. You're Sinatra.

The theory made a certain sense, but there was that qualitative difference to Farrah's fame. She could not have gotten rid of it if she had wanted to.

Yet no one always wins. The most blessed among us are subject to hurt. Here is what happened with that movie that was filmed on the desert:

Months after the final scenes were shot, I received a phone call from one of the producers. Opening weekend was approaching.

"Farrah's not in the movie," he said.

I didn't process the words.

"She asked for her name to be taken off the credits?" I said.

"No," he said. "She has been cut out of the final film."

The powers that be with the authority to make such decisions, the story went, after some screenings in front of test audiences had decided that the movie didn't work well with Farrah in it. So every single one of her scenes had been excised. The movie had been recut as if she had never existed.

Even when you're golden, it seems, life can blindside you and try to make you feel small. Even when, to those on the outside, it appears that you have everything, it can vanish. Somewhere, in metal film cans on some shelf or other, there are colorful motion images of a beautiful woman doing her job, images the world has never seen. "Morning!" she would call on her way to breakfast. She carried the sunrise with her.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Bob Greene.

Filed under: Larry King Live

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Billy Mays, OxiClean pitchman, found dead

Posted: 06:20 PM ET

(CNN) - Infomercial pitchman Billy Mays died at his Tampa, Florida, home Sunday morning, authorities told CNN.

OxiClean pitchman Billy Mays died Sunday morning at his home in Tampa, authorities said.

The 50-year-old known for his shouting OxiClean ads was pronounced dead at 7:45 a.m. The Hillsborough County medical examiner will perform an autopsy, Tampa police Lt. Brian Dugan said.

Mays was on the US Airways flight from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to Tampa on Saturday that had a hard landing at Tampa International Airport when the plane's front tire blew out. There were no reported injuries on Flight 1241, US Airways told CNN.

According to a local Tampa TV station, Mays said: "All of a sudden as we hit you know it was just the hardest hit, all the things from the ceiling started dropping. It hit me on the head, but I got a hard head."

Airline spokesman Jim Olson told CNN Sunday there were no reported passenger injuries from flight 1241. The airline vowed to "cooperate fully" with authorities in the investigation.

"We were very sad to learn of Billy Mays' passing and our thoughts and prayers go out to his family," Olson said. Tampa officials say the Medical Examiner's Office expects to complete an autopsy by Monday afternoon. In a statement, Deborah Mays said that although "Billy lived a public life," the family does not plan immediate public statements about his death.

Mays was a spokesman for Orange Glo and detergent OxiClean and appeared in commercials for other products.

He is featured on the reality TV show "Pitchmen" on the Discovery Channel, which follows pitch people in their jobs.

"It is with incredible sadness that we have to report that Billy Mays died in his sleep last night," said a statement from the Discovery Channel. "Everyone that knows him was aware of his larger-than-life personality, generosity and warmth. Billy was a pioneer in his field and helped many people fulfill their dreams. He will be greatly missed as a loyal and compassionate friend. Our deepest sympathies go out to his family at this time of incredible loss."

Filed under: Larry King Live

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June 27, 2009

Michael Jackson – Human Nature

Posted: 11:07 PM ET


Given how many of today's pop artists lip-sync all of their live performance, it's refreshing to see this vintage clip of Michael Jackson actually singing a song while he dances.

A non-scientific survey of the Larry King Live crew this week found "Human Nature" to be the office favorite.  What's your favorite Michael Jackson song?

Filed under: Larry King Live • Michael Jackson

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Commentary: When the white glove waved

Posted: 08:55 PM ET
By Tananarive Due
Special to CNN

Editor's note: Tananarive Due is an American Book Award-winning and NAACP Image Award-winning novelist. She is based in Los Angeles. Her website is

The Due sisters -- Johnita, left, Tananarive, center and Lydia -- prepare for a Jackson concert in 1984.

The Due sisters - Johnita, left, Tananarive, center and Lydia - prepare for a Jackson concert in 1984

LOS ANGELES, California (CNN) - Michael Jackson died Thursday, and my family gathered by telephone from Florida, Texas, California and Georgia to mourn and remember. But we began mourning long ago.

I was 17 when the "Motown 25th Anniversary Special" aired in 1983, and my parents, sisters and I first saw Michael Jackson moonwalk to "Billie Jean."

He sent a lightning bolt through our living room, and all of us leaped to our feet with shouts. He may have been the best entertainer I live to see. His music asked us to transcend race and geography, hate and bigotry, and made us feel like we were the world.

In recent months, I showed my 5-year-old son, Jason, that Motown performance on YouTube. "Billie Jean" made Jason want to moonwalk and wear a glove. "Beat It" inspired Jason to kick his leg and fling his head from side to side like Michael.

But it has been a long time since I could watch Michael Jackson videos without feeling sad. His death is only the next stage of the loss. Michael Jackson left the music world to mourn - but many of us, especially black Americans, felt like we lost a family member on Thursday. He pained and puzzled us, but we still loved him.

Until Thursday, some of us had forgotten how much.

Michael was not always easy to love. He tested us, sometimes asking us to ignore what we could see with our own eyes. We may never know fully what Michael did or didn't do, but he was like the lost relative we wished we could bring back to shore.

When Jason asked questions about Michael's changing face in the videos, I showed him the beautiful brown-skinned, bright-eyed little boy who grew up in my family's living room.

There is supreme irony in the death of Michael Jackson the same year as the inauguration of the first black president. Michael, who would ascend higher than any black artist in music history, learned a bitter lesson: Even at the top of the mountain, there is only the man in the mirror.

Jason isn't old enough to fully understand black and white, why his grandmother was sent to jail for ordering a hamburger at a Woolworth lunch counter in 1960, or how an ill-used child's soul might never find its way back home.

So I told Jason about the time Mommy, Grandma, Grandpa, Aunt Lydia and Aunt Johnita [now an assistant general counsel at CNN] drove from Miami to Jacksonville to see the Jacksons' Victory Tour in 1984, when Michael Jackson ruled the world. How his aunties and I dressed up for the concert in our own gloves.

After the concert, still floating from the surreal experience, we approached a stretch limousine on the highway. As my father sidled our car closer and my sisters and I pressed our noses to the window to try to see, the limo's tinted electric window slid down.

A sparkling silver glove waved out to us.

When we saw that glove, the whole car screamed - even my father, who was driving.

My sisters and I begged my father to follow the limousine...and it finally came to a stop in front of our budget hotel. When the rear door opened, a white blond-haired decoy stepped out - wearing a silver Michael Jackson glove.

If only we'd never seen past the tinted window.

If only we had a perfect memory of Michael waving goodbye.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Tananarive Due.

Filed under: Larry King Live • Michael Jackson

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