Michael Jackson | Macaulay Culkin | Buck Henry | Weekend Miscellany

Jacko TV Special Will Omit Guest Stars

The word is out at CBS: When Michael Jackson's special airs in mid-November, most of those loony guest stars who appeared with him at Madison Square Garden will be cut out. 

You will not, for example, be seeing Marlon Brando's rambling speech about children being hacked to death with a machete. If there's a God, you will also not see Liza Minnelli in her strange makeup with a facelift, boy singer Billy Gilmer enchanting Jackson with "Ben," or the weird salute to The Wiz that is still not fully comprehended. 

Television viewers will probably not see Whitney Houston's skeletal frame singing "Wanna Be Starting Something" either. 

Sources at the network told me that most of that footage was unusable or unwatchable. "At best," my source says, "you may see snippets of some of the performances." 

The source continues: "It's a two-hour show, and what you're going to see is Michael's reunion with the Jackson 5, 'N Sync joining them for a few minutes, and Michael performing 'Billie Jean' and 'Beat It.' That stuff was magic. The rest of it, you can forget about."

The TV version will also omit Jackson singing "The Way You Make Me Feel" with Britney Spears. Spears is appearing on HBO and has a clause in her contract forbidding her from being on any other network show for 30 days. 

And a strange moment in this freak show — when Michael told the audience they could make requests, pretended he was being asked to sing his new "You Rock My World," and then proceeded to sing it — what a surprise! — will probably not make the final cut. 

CBS is still deciding when to air the show, for which they paid $5 million. But a source said to look for it in the first or second week of November.

Macaulay on a Break, But Will Divorce 

Macaulay Culkin and his brother Kieran — who's building quite an acting resume — were just two of the stars who hit the Central Park Boathouse Wednesday night for the premiere of Peter Chelsom's Serendipity. The much-needed romantic comedy, which opens today, stars John Cusack, Kate Beckinsale, Molly Shannon, and Jeremy Piven

Mac, as he is known, is quite the survivor. He turned 21 five weeks ago and he's already been married, had a nasty public war with his parents over money and banked tens of millions of dollars from movies like Home Alone and Richie Rich

On Wednesday, he was smoking like a chimney and drinking scotch. He wore a black feather boa around his neck that he got from one of the statuesque models working the room. But he's not going to be one of those child actors who holds up a 7-11 or gets busted for drug possession. 

"That was really my goal, you know, to not be one of those people," a smiling Mac told me last night. He also said that he would eventually divorce his wife of three years, Rachel Miner, but it hasn't happened yet. "She's a really good actress, she always was, and we're still friends," he said. Was getting married at 17 a bad idea in retrospect? "It was right for me at the time. And I certainly don't regret it."

Mac remains loyal to Michael Jackson. He went to both of his Madison Square Garden shows. "I'd never seen him perform live," he said. "He was amazing. 'Billie Jean' was just ... ." His eyes twinkled at the memory. "And the different people each night were good too." 

So when will the Home Alone star get back to movies? This year he starred in a play in London and off-Broadway. "The answer is, when something comes along that I really love. There's no hurry. There's plenty of time." 

I'm crossing my fingers for Macaulay Culkin. It seems like he's going to make it after all.

Buck Henry Gets Smart Part 

When you see Serendipity this weekend, you'll notice an uncredited but familiar face in an early scene. That's writer Buck Henry who tries to buy a pair of gloves in Bloomingdale's. 

Henry, the comic legend who co-created Get Smart and wrote To Die For, didn't have much trouble getting this part. After all, he did the massive rewrites on Chelsom's Town & Country, the infamous bomb of last spring. 

Producer Simon Fields explains: "We got to know Buck so well and we love him." Right, because Town & Country took three years to shoot, wrap and release. "He even did a little rewriting for us on Serendipity."

This and That Weekend Miscellany 

Correction: Readers were right, it wasn't Shaggy but Craig David singing "Come Together" on the John Lennon special. He was very good, and I should remember that Shaggy doesn't actually sing. He raps. … It looks like Miramax's Gangs of New York won't be released this year. Not because it's not ready. But the content — graphic violence in downtown New York — makes it inappropriate now. … Robert Forster shines in Diamond Men, a small indie film that needs a groundswell of support. If it's playing near you, go see it. … And Macy Gray's album The Id is faltering. Only 160,000 copies have been sold in two weeks. Now look folks, don't complain about there being no good music out there and then ignore this record. "Sweet, Sweet Baby" is a Grammy single and a classic bit of modern soul. And there are plenty of other good songs on this inventive, funny, melodic, hip album. …

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