The wacky world of Michael Jackson is getting more and more complicated to explain, let alone follow.
I told you last week that Jackson's managers-du-jour, Dieter Wiesner and Ronald Konitzer, were putting together a TV special about the beleaguered and accused pop star.
The idea they had, I was told, was to try to sell it to Fox, where Jackson had a couple of other specials earlier this year. The asking price would be in the $2-$3 million range.
But, I asked rhetorically, what of CBS, which already laid out money for a Jackson special they didn't air a couple of weeks ago?
The answer, I'm told now, is that CBS has made a tentative offer to Jackson for a special that would include the one that didn't air, plus an interview with Ed Bradley. The respected "60 Minutes" correspondent would not pull any punches getting to the bottom of Jackson's latest tangled mess of troubles.
CBS, sources tell me, has even set aside Dec. 17 for the airdate.
That would certainly conflict with the Dec. 20 date being bandied about as a shooting time for the managers' show.
Jackson, it would seem, is the object of a tug-of-war. On one side is the Wiesner group, which is much derided in many corners. Wiesner's background was recounted in this space last week. As well, I hear that several European publications are working on stories about him.
On the CBS side, as I'll call it, are the more conventional Jackson advisers. These include Jackson's longtime music attorney John Branca, his friend Miami attorney Al Malnik (profiled in this space a couple of weeks ago, and again over the weekend — natch —in the New York Daily Snooze), and friend/confidant/sometime manager John McClain.
It's McClain who's trying to broker the Bradley interview, sources say, if only he can get past Wiesner and Konitzer to tell Jackson about it.
Meantime, the other war — the public-relations one — continues unabated back and forth between Jackson's side and the family of the alleged victim. The latest allegations indicate that the family has a dicey history of suing people and accusing them of sexual molestation.
If it's all true, you do wonder how District Attorney Tom Sneddon planned on dealing with all of this when a trial came — that is, if he even knew of the family's litigious history.
The Farrelly Brothers have decided who they'd like to see for at least two of the "Three Stooges."
Peter Farrelly told me last night at the premiere of the brothers' latest comedy, "Stuck On You," that he's got a Moe and a Larry in mind.
"Benicio Del Toro for Moe," he said, "and Jeff Daniels for Larry."
Farrelly shook his head. The thrown-out name of John Goodman caused a small but non-committal flicker of acknowledgement. Hmmm...
The Farrellys will have time to cast about for these parts, and they like doing it. At one point they had Will Smith and Samuel L. Jackson in mind as the conjoined twins in "Stuck on You." They even had a part for Harrison Ford.
But all that changed. Matt Damon and Greg Kinnear became the twins, and Meryl Streep the celebrity they're obsessed with.
Cher, she of the self-effacing wit and the face that no longer moves, also plays herself in a sizeable supporting role.
"Stuck on You" is not like any other Farrelly movie. There are few real gross-out jokes, for one thing, even though you might like to hear one or two. They try for a different kind of tone — mixing freak comedy with poignant moments and insider Hollywood jokes.
It's quite a strange mélange. Sometimes it works; at other times, who knows what's happening? But Damon and Kinnear are oddly charming together. Even when you can't follow the film, they've got a weird chemistry.
So how did Streep wind up in this thing (the characters refer to her at one point as "The Streeper")?
"She said, 'I know you wouldn't think of me, but I'd love to be in one of your movies,'" Peter Farrelly told me. "So we wrote the part and hoped she'd say yes."
The payoff, of course, is that Streep can do anything. At the end of the film she and Kinnear perform in a spoof set piece — a musical version of "Bonnie and Clyde" — in which Kinnear sings the version of George Gershwin's "Summertime" made famous by R&B legend Billy Stewart.
Streep is silent, but is Kinnear's ready accomplice. It's a little tour de farce that I think will grow in time into a cult item.
As for Cher, she always did well mocking herself on the old "Sonny and Cher" show. The formula works like magic again here, where in one scene she's in bed with her new boyfriend, played by teen TV star Frankie Muniz. They're just watching TV, but the joke works since the world knows about Cher's proclivities.
"The funny thing," Farrelly said, "is that we have more. It didn't test well with focus groups. But there was some real groping."
And that, I'm sure, will turn up on the DVD.
They're busy counting the CDs sold last week, and when it's all over later today Alicia Keys will be No. 1. Her second album, "The Diary of Alicia Keys," looks as though it sold 600,000 copies in its first week.
On the low end of the chart, Michael Jackson's greatest-hits CD eked out a mere 40,000 in its third week — amazing considering all the scandal — and is almost out of the top 50.
As for Keys, I can't heap enough praise on her. Yesterday she performed live with her band on Ellen DeGeneres' talk show and it was truly an amazing thing to behold.
Almost no pop performers will go on "live" on anything anymore. All the music is pre-taped, lip-synched and sterilized for public consumption. But on "Ellen," you could actually see Keys' throat moving while she sang! The band was top-notch, too, as were the backup singers.
What next for Keys? A movie is a sure bet now. And this is only the beginning.