News & Current Affairs

August 9, 2009

Jackson friend claims paternity

Filed under: Business News, Entertainment News, Latest — Tags: , , , , , , — expressyoureself @ 2:09 pm

Jackson friend claims paternity

Mark Lester, a former child star and long-time friend of Michael Jackson, says he could be the father of one of the late pop star’s children.

Speaking to the News Of The World, Lester said he had donated sperm to the King of Pop and was willing to take a paternity test.

“I believe Paris could be my daughter,” he said, and noted she bore a physical resemblance to his daughter, Harriet.

Calls to Lester’s home in Cheltenham were not immediately returned.

The 51-year-old, who rose to fame playing Oliver Twist in the 1968 film of the stage musical, had been friends with Jackson for nearly 30 years.

He is godfather to Paris, 11, and Jackson’s two other children, 12-year-old Prince, and Prince Michael II, seven.

The star suffered a cardiac arrest at his Los Angeles home on 25 June at the age of 50.

His mother, Katherine, became the permanent guardian of his three children last week.

Welfare concerns

In a video on the News Of The World website, Lester said he had come forward at this time “because I have concerns about the welfare and upbringing of the children”.

“There’s a contact issue,” he added. “I dearly want to remain in contact with those kids and I feel now this is the only way that I can ensure that.”

The former actor, who now works as an osteopath, also detailed how the arrangement with Jackson had come to pass.

Michael Jackson's children

Paris (left) made an emotional speech at her father’s memorial concert

“Michael Jackson asked me in a private conversation if I would be willing to donate sperm on his behalf,” he said.

“I was phoned up by a London clinic and I was asked what would be a convenient time for me to attend. I made an appointment to go along.”

Lester said he assumed the mother of the child would be Debbie Rowe, Jackson’s then-wife.

There has previously been speculation that Jackson’s dermatologist, Arnold Klein, was the father to his two children with Rowe.

The star’s third child was born to a surrogate mother, whose identity was never revealed.

“Of all of Michael’s children, I would assume that the one who looks most like me is Paris,” Lester said.

“Paris has blue eyes, pale complexion and high cheekbones. My girls all have very similar features.”

There has been no comment on Lester’s claims from the Jackson family.

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July 16, 2009

LA to foot Jackson memorial bill

LA to foot Jackson memorial bill

Michael Jackson memorial

More than 17,000 fans flocked to Los Angeles for the memorial

The city of Los Angeles will pay the costs of policing Michael Jackson’s memorial concert, its mayor has said.

“This is a world-class city and we provide fire and police protection,” said Antonio Villaraigosa.

City council officials have suggested Jackson’s family and promoter AEG Live should pay some of the $1.4m (£860,000) needed for police and traffic control.

But Mr Villaraigosa said that “the idea we would charge the family for a funeral is nonsensical”.

The mayor was on holiday in South Africa a week ago when more than 17,000 fans flocked to downtown Los Angeles to watch the public memorial.

In his absence a website was set up encouraging public donations to help cover the costs of last Tuesday’s event at the Staples Center.

‘Hard decisions’

Meanwhile, AEG Live’s chief executive has revealed he wants to stage a one-off London tribute concert featuring the Jacksons and other artists.

Speaking to 6 Music, Randy Phillips said “hard decisions” would need to be made if the event was to take place on what would have been Michael Jackson’s 51st birthday.

“What we’re thinking about is one massive tribute that’s broadcast around the globe,” he said.

However, he played down reports that a concert was already in the works featuring such artists as Leona Lewis and Justin Timberlake.

Mr Phillips also rejected calls for AEG to reimburse LA authorities for the costs incurred by last week’s memorial.

“I think the city should cover these costs,” he said. “[When] someone of this fame dies, do you not give them a proper funeral?”

Jackson’s ex-wife denies pay-off

Filed under: Entertainment News, Latest — Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , — expressyoureself @ 5:28 pm

Jackson’s ex-wife denies pay-off

Michael jackson and Debbie Rowe

Rowe was married to Michael Jackson from 1996 to 1999

Michael Jackson’s ex-wife Debbie Rowe has denied reports she was paid by the singer to give up parental rights to their two children.

The New York Post reported that Rowe agreed to take about $4m (£2.4m) to give up her rights to children Prince Michael Jr, 12, and Paris, 11.

In a letter to the newspaper, her lawyer Eric George called the claims “blatant falsehoods”.

New York Post editor-in-chief Col Allan said the paper “stands by its story”.

That was despite Mr George asking the newspaper to publish an immediate retraction.

‘Reckless’

The lawyer said Ms Rowe, who was married to Jackson from 1996 to 1999, “has not and will not” give up her parental rights and the claim was “unequivocally false”.

Jatherine Jackson

Katherine Jackson has temporary guardianship of her grandchildren

He said the story had been “concocted with reckless disregard for the truth”, adding that Ms Rowe had also not taken, and would not accept, any additional money beyond the spousal support she had agreed with the singer years ago.

Mr George said that, following Jackson’s death, “no determination has been reached concerning custody or visitation”.

Jackson’s mother, Katherine, was granted temporary guardianship of her son’s three children on 29 June.

A custody hearing on the three is set for next Monday.

The surrogate mother of Jackson’s youngest child, seven-year-old Prince Michael II, has never been identified.

In a 2002 will signed by Jackson, he said he had “intentionally omitted” to provide for Ms Rowe.

She gave up custody rights to the children but sought them again in 2003.

They agreed a settlement in 2006 but the terms were never disclosed.

Intervention

Meanwhile, sales of Jackson’s music have continued to rocket in the US.

Early figures show the singer’s catalogue of solo albums sold 1.1 million copies in the past week.

It brings the total number of Jackson album sales in the US to more than 2.3 million in two-and-a-half weeks.

Meanwhile, Tito Jackson has said he and his brothers and sisters confronted the star over claims he was addicted to prescription drugs.

In an interview with the Daily Mirror, he said: “We had to act – it was me, my sisters Janet, Rebbie and La Toya and my brothers Jackie and Randy.

“We kept asking him if it was true.”

He added: “He kept denying it. He said we were over-reacting. We talked about it again and again for hours but we just couldn’t get through to him.”

On Tuesday, a spokesman for the Los Angeles coroner said results of Jackson’s autopsy would not be released “this week or next” while final work on the case was carried out.

Racing for the first Jackson book

Filed under: Entertainment News, Latest — Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , — expressyoureself @ 5:25 pm

Racing for the first Jackson book

Michael Jackson biography, published by Harper Collins

The first books will be on sale by the end of the week

We don’t know if he has even been buried yet but already the first Michael Jackson tribute biography is bound and ready to go.

Harper Collins is one of 15 publishers racing to get their book onto the shelves first.

A printers in Somerset began running 110,000 copies of their edition on Saturday. Harper Collins hopes this means the book can hit the shops on Friday, just three weeks after Jackson’s death.

How they did it is down to some of the tightest self-imposed deadlines the UK publishing industry has ever seen.

Race begins

The morning after the news Michael Jackson had died, Harper Collins sensed an opportunity. They decided a new book was needed, especially since the most recent Jackson biography in the marketplace was over five years old.

In terms of the reaction to the death of a public figure, it’s probably the most significant publishing event since the death of Princess Diana
Joe Browes, music buyer for Waterstone’s

The trouble is, they knew their competitors would be thinking the same thing.

“We needed text in two days, pictures in three days,” says Carole Tonkinson, publisher for non fiction at Harper Collins. “We started the project Monday afternoon, and by Thursday we had to give it to the designer to put together, which is the tightest schedule in the history of our company.”

To meet the tight deadlines the publisher had set themselves, they quickly brought in a freelance author, sat him down in an office on the editorial floor of their London headquarters, and told him to write 10,000 words of new material in 48 hours.

He shut himself away until he had finished.

Sales boost

“Being first is key, we need to get that slot in the retailers,” says Tonkinson. “If our competitors sell them their Jacko book, then we’re out in the cold. We need to be in that slot, on the shelf in the supermarket, in the book shop before anybody else.”

Books rolling out

Harper Collins gave itself the tightest schedule in its history

The book trade, under pressure from the recession and online media, is excited at what all the publishers might come up with.

“In terms of the reaction to the death of a public figure, it’s probably the most significant publishing event since the death of Princess Diana,” says Joe Browes, the music buyer for Waterstone’s.

For the industry, this is great news. It means extra sales that had not been planned for.

But with four or five publishers rushing to be first to market, it seems likely that there won’t be room in the market for all of the books.

Even though Jackson’s commercial appeal is huge, the pie is finite and not everyone will get a bite.

Reacting fast is everything.

July 12, 2009

Jackson children hearing delayed

Filed under: Entertainment News, Latest — Tags: , , , , , , , , — expressyoureself @ 5:11 am

Jackson children hearing delayed

Michael Jackon's children

Jackson’s children appeared at his televised memorial concert

A hearing to decide who will take care of Michael Jackson’s three children is to be delayed by a week, says his mother’s lawyer.

Katherine Jackson and her son’s ex-wife Deborah Rowe joined on Friday to ask the judge for a delay to the hearing. The case has been delayed once already.

Ms Jackson will remain the temporary guardian of her son’s three children, whose ages range from seven to 12.

The two sides are believed to be trying to broker an out-of-court settlement.

‘Privately and amicably’

In a statement to the Associated Press news agency, L Londell McMillan, a lawyer acting for Ms Jackson, said the delay would “allow us to privately and amicably resolve this most important matter in a dignified manner for the benefit of the children first and all involved”.

Lawyers for Ms Rowe, who was married to the pop singer from 1996 to 1999, have declined to comment.

She is the mother of Jackson’s two oldest children, 12-year-old Prince Michael, and 11-year-old Paris Michael Katherine Jackson.

The surrogate mother of Jackson’s youngest child, seven-year-old Prince Michael II, has never been identified.

In his will, Michael Jackson stated he wanted his mother to care for his children if he died. As an alternative, he named singer and friend Diana Ross.

July 9, 2009

Mystery surrounds Jackson burial

Mystery surrounds Jackson burial

Michael Jackson

Jackson died on 25 June, weeks before a series of comeback shows

Mystery surrounds the whereabouts of Michael Jackson’s body and plans for the singer’s burial following his emotional memorial service.

It is not clear where his golden coffin was taken to after it was removed from the Staples Center in Los Angeles.

And, in the absence of an announcement by his family, speculation is mounting over where he will be buried.

Meanwhile, figures show that his memorial service was watched by 31.3 million people in the US.

Resting place

On Tuesday, family members attended a short funeral service at the Forest Lawn cemetery before Jackson’s coffin was taken in a hearse for the 10-mile trip to the Staples Center.

After the coffin was taken out, the hearse was seen leaving the centre but its destination has not been made public.

Los Angeles County records show that Forest Lawn is officially the temporary location of the body. But the coffin has not been seen returning to the cemetery.

Some reports suggest that Jackson could be buried at Forest Lawn – the last resting place of celebrities including Liberace, Bette Davis and actor David Carradine, who was found dead in a Bangkok hotel room last month.

Last week, Jackson’s brother Jermaine said he wanted the body to be buried in the grounds of the singer’s former home – the sprawling Neverland ranch, 150 miles north-west of Los Angeles.

Permission would be needed by authorities who would have to consider the implications of visiting fans on the transport infrastructure.

Meanwhile, Nielsen Media Research, the company that tracks viewing figures in the US, said that 31.3 million people watched the memorial service which was shown on a number of different networks.

This compared with the 28.9 million who watched the American Idol final in May and the 38 million who watched President Barack Obama’s inauguration in January.

Princess Diana’s funeral in September 1997 was watched by 33.2 million in the US.

Nielsen Media Research said Jackson’s memorial service was also watched by millions more on the internet.

It has emerged that the memorial service cost $1.4m (£860,000) to police and to provide traffic control and other services for.

Paris Jackson

Paris Jackson made an emotional tribute at the service

The amount included $1.1m (£680,000) in overtime pay for the 4,173 officers who worked around Forest Lawn, the Staples Center and other areas, the police department said.

The city council has set up a website asking people to make tax-free donations to help cover costs.

US music sales tracker Nielsen SoundScan, meanwhile, has revealed that 800,000 copies of Michael Jackson albums were bought last week – almost double sales for the previous week.

Compilation Number Ones was the best-selling album followed by 1982 album Thriller.

July 7, 2009

Fans and family remember Jackson

Fans and family remember Jackson

Michael Jackson’s family and fans have said farewell to the pop superstar at an emotional memorial service.

Jackson’s daughter Paris, 11, fought back tears to describe him as as “the best father you can ever imagine”.

The singer’s coffin was placed in front of the stage during the event at the Staples Center in Los Angeles after an earlier private funeral.

Lionel Richie, Stevie Wonder and Mariah Carey paid tribute before the family joined a sombre finale on stage.

Stevie Wonder said: “This is a moment I wished I didn’t live to see come. Michael I love you.”

The crowd cheered as the golden flower-draped coffin entered the arena to the strains of a choir singing “Hallelujah, hallelujah, we’re going to see the King” from the song Soon And Very Soon.

Michael Jackson's family

Michael Jackson’s brothers wore his trademark single gloves

Mariah Carey opened the show, performing I’ll Be There, ending with the words: “We miss you.”

Jackson’s brother Jermaine took to the stage to perform the song Smile. It was said to be the King of Pop’s favourite song, featuring the lyric: “Smile though your hearts are aching.”

Others paying tribute included Lionel Richie, Jennifer Hudson, Queen Latifah and Brooke Shields.

Some sang, while others spoke about their memories of the King of Pop and his influence on music and society. Many embraced family members as they left the stage.

The BBC’s Matthew Price, who was in the arena, said: “It’s had to clearly see the family but the glimpses I’m getting show a family both in mourning, and in celebration of his life.

“There are moments of the intensely personal in this very public event.”

Civil rights leader Reverend Al Sharpton gave a fiery speech, telling Jackson’s children: “There weren’t nothing strange about your daddy.”

“It was strange what your daddy had to deal with but he dealt with it.”

Michael was a personal love of mine, a treasured part of my world, part of the fabric of my life in a way that I can’t seem to find words to express
Diana Ross

Motown boss Berry Gordy, who signed the Jackson Five, ended his tribute with the words: “Michael, thank you for the joy, thank you for the love. you will live in my heart forever.”

Actress Brooke Shields, who first met Jackson when she was 13, broke down in tears as she took to the stage.

Describing Jackson as “pure”, she said: “He was often referred to as the King but the Michael that I knew was always the little prince. Michael saw everything with his heart.”

The 17,500 people in the arena cheered as clips of Jackson’s life and music were played on big screens.

Messages were read from absent guests including former South African President Nelson Mandela, poet Maya Angelou and singer Diana Ross.

Stevie Wonder performing
The stage was adorned with flowers and a tribute to Jackson

The message from Ross was read by Smokey Robinson. “I’m trying to find closure,” it said.

“I want you to know that even though I am not there at the Staples Center I am there in my heart.

“Michael was a personal love of mine, a treasured part of my world, part of the fabric of my life in a way that I can’t seem to find words to express.

“Michael wanted me to be there for his children and I will be there if they ever need me. I hope today brings closure for all those who loved him.”

Other people taking part include Usher and Britain’s Got Talent finalist Shaheen Jafargholi, who has played the young Michael Jackson in the musical Thriller – Live.

The stage is adorned with the star’s image, alongside a mural carrying the words: “In Loving Memory. Michael Jackson King of Pop – 1958-2009.”

Millions of fans around the world are watching on TV.

Roads were closed off and concrete barriers erected outside the Staples Center, where Jackson had been rehearsing a comeback show before his sudden death aged 50 on 25 June.

More than 1.6 million fans applied to attend the memorial event, with 8,750 people chosen at random to receive a pair of tickets.

One person not attending is Jackson’s former wife and the mother of two of his children, Debbie Rowe.

“The onslaught of media attention has made it clear her attendance would be an unnecessary distraction to an event that should focus exclusively on Michael’s legacy,” her lawyer Marta Almli said in a statement.

About 50 cinemas across the US are showing the memorial live. It is also being relayed to big screens across the UK, Australia and Hong Kong.

Family members earlier attended a short funeral service at the Forest Lawn cemetery.

July 5, 2009

Madonna in Jackson stage tribute

Filed under: Entertainment News, Latest — Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , — expressyoureself @ 7:59 am

Madonna in Jackson stage tribute

Madonna kicked-off her revamped Sticky And Sweet tour at London’s O2 Arena with a tribute to Michael Jackson.

Jackson, who died last week, was due to perform a series of 50 farewell concerts at the venue from 13 July.

As Madonna sang Holiday she was joined by a dancer dressed in Jackson’s unmistakable style of sequined jacket and sparkling white glove.

Madonna told the crowd: “Give it up for one of the greatest artists the world has ever known – long live the King!”

Signature moves

Pictures of Jackson as a boy flashed up on a giant screen as the dancer moon-walked across the stage to the strains of Billie Jean.

He went on to perform some of Jackson’s signature moves to Wanna Be Starting Something.

An estimated crowd of 17,000 watched Madonna perform at the first of two concerts in London this weekend.

She moves on to Manchester on Tuesday, followed by several dates across Europe.

Madonna closed the show with Give It 2 Me, and donned a jewelled glove, along with her dancers, in a final, simple, tribute to Jackson.

Solo stars

Lyrics from his hit Man In the Mirror scrolled across the screens. It read: “If you want to make the world a better place, take a look at yourself and then make the change.”

Michael Jackson and Madonna montage

Jackson and Madonna both became huge solo stars in the 1980s

The tribute, albeit brief, impressed fans at the O2. Victoria Mears, of Billericay, Essex, said: “I really liked it. It seemed very fitting for the queen of pop to pay tribute to the king of pop.”

Nina Lawrence, 32, of Bishop’s Stortford, Hertfordshire, said: “It thought it was good, but it was a shame she didn’t sing one of his songs as a tribute.”

And Helen Levy, 30, of Winchester, Hants, said: “She seemed very passionate when she spoke about Michael Jackson. It’s clear that he was a great inspiration to her.”

Jackson and Madonna both became huge solo stars in the 1980s.

Speaking after the 50-year-old’s death on 25 June, Madonna said: “I can’t stop crying over the sad news.

“I’ve always admired Michael Jackson – the world has lost one of its greats, but his music will live on forever.”

A public memorial service for Jackson will be held at the Staples Center in Los Angeles on Tuesday.

Over half-a-million fans have applied for just 17,500 tickets available for the event.

July 3, 2009

Photographer on Jackson rehearsals

Filed under: Entertainment News, Latest — Tags: , , , , , , , , , , — expressyoureself @ 6:48 pm

Photographer on Jackson rehearsals

Renowned rock photographer Kevin Mazur was at Michael Jackson’s final tour rehearsal in Los Angeles last week.

Several images from the practice runs have now been released, showing the star dancing and smiling against large neon letters reading “This Is It”.

Mazur, who first took pictures of Jackson during the 1984 Victory tour, told the news about the “magical” show that was being prepared before the entertainer’s untimely death on Thursday.


Michael Jackson during last show rehearsal at Staples Center in Los Angeles (Kevin Mazur/AEG/Getty Images )

The pictures were taken on 23 June, just two days before Jackson died

How much of the rehearsal did you see?

I was there for a couple of days. I was there on the first day when they built the stage, and I took photographs of the dancers and the back-up singers for the tour book. Then, the next day I was taking casual shots of the band and the dancers rehearsing when Michael arrived.

I was like an expectant father waiting for him to take to the stage, I was so excited. And when he came out, I was even more excited because Michael was back.

He was happy, he was energetic, he was full of life. I had such an adrenaline rush. It was like the first time I had photographed him, when he moonwalked.

People were saying he wasn’t ready, and the first shows had been pushed back because of his health. Did you see any evidence of that?

A photo tells a story. Michael was physically fit and performing the same way that I photographed him through the years. You can look at the photos. I documented it, I was there.

So how did you feel when, four days later, you were told he had died?

I was so shocked, because from what I saw on Tuesday night, he was full of energy and full of life. I couldn’t wait to see this show at the O2 arena with all the fans there.

How much of the production did you see? Were there any big surprises?

There were still certain elements that they had to put into place, but I saw them rehearse about a dozen songs. And Michael never stopped. He worked right through. He did 12 songs and he only paused a couple of times to tweak some stuff with the music and a little bit of the choreography.

They had a screen that ran the full length of the main stage and was maybe about 50 feet high. And, supposedly, I heard they were doing some 3D things. I’ve been shooting shows for 25 years and I’d never seen anything like that before. I was very curious to see how it would all come together.

Michael Jackson during last show rehearsal at Staples Center in Los Angeles (Kevin Mazur/AEG/Getty Images )

The series of 50 concerts was due to begin in London on 13 July

So you could say the concert was really in the final stages of preparation – with all the individual songs coming together into a coherent show?

Yes, well… everything was pretty much staged and built. There were certain things they were still waiting to get – they had chandeliers they were going to put into the set. But musically and dancing-wise, I got to see it all. But I didn’t get to see things like aerial lifts and a few other elements in the show.

And when Michael was done rehearsing, he and Kenny Ortega [choreographer and show producer] went off the stage and they were looking at a bunch of props they had for Thriller and they had a puppeteer using zombie-type creatures that were going to go through the audience. It looked really, really cool.

This was going to be like no show anyone had ever seen.

The picture that has gone around the world today is of Michael in a grey suit, pointing into the centre of the auditorium. What do you remember much about that shot?

That might have been Black Or White – but I don’t remember. It’s so hard for me to keep track of the songs while I’m shooting, because it’s such an adrenalin rush for me. I’m just too excited, and I’m juggling round numerous cameras. But I do know this, it was magical.

There are rumours today that the rehearsals had been filmed and that segments of the concert will be released as a tribute. Were you aware of that?

Not specifically – but everything was documented. That’s why I was there. I was there to keep a record photographically, and they also had videographers. He’s Michael Jackson and, as you know, he documents everything.

Jackson tickets via internet draw

Filed under: Entertainment News, Latest — Tags: , , , , , , , , — expressyoureself @ 6:37 pm

Jackson tickets via internet draw

Fan outside Staples Center 3.7.09

The Staples Center was where Michael Jackson’s rehearsals were held

Tickets for a public memorial service for Michael Jackson in Los Angeles on Tuesday will be available via the internet, organisers have revealed.

Details were announced by AEG Live, the star’s promoter, which owns the Staples Center where the service will be held.

Eleven thousand free tickets are to be issued for the service. Only US residents can apply.

‘It’s about the fans’

Another 6,500 tickets will be issued for a simulcast of the service at the nearby Nokia theatre. It means a total of 17,500 fans will be able to see the events free.

Officials said 8,750 pairs of tickets would be allotted to the successful entrants after 1800 Saturday (0100 GMT Sunday) and notifications would go out later on Sunday.

If you do not have a ticket… not only will you not be allowed at these venues, you will not be allowed in this area
LA police chief Earl Paysinger

Those selected will be able to get their tickets via Ticketmaster on Monday, officials said.

No other details of the service itself were revealed.

Officials appealed to other fans to watch the memorial service from their own homes, amid fears that thousands of people without tickets could flood the area.

“If you do not have a ticket, if you are not credentialed, not only will you not be allowed at these venues, you will not be allowed in this area,” said Los Angeles police chief Earl Paysinger.

Michael Jackson had been rehearsing for his London concerts at the Staples Center.

In a press conference, family representative Ken Sunshine said they wanted to accommodate as many fans as possible.

“It is all about the fans,” he said.

Officials said that no funeral procession would take place and the memorial service would not be shown on screens outside the venues.

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