Published December 21, 2003
It was an odd but supportive crowd of 600 that turned out Saturday to salute Michael Jackson in his time of need.
Among the crowd was his sister, superstar performer Janet Jackson, who came with her on-again, off again fiancée Jermaine Dupri, according to my sources. All the other Jackson siblings and their children were present as well, including LaToya, Jermaine, Randy, Tito, Marlon, and Reebe.
Celebrities were rushed through the Neverland gates in limos with darkened glass. Tennis star Serena Williams, record producer Rodney Jerkins, "American Idol" host Ryan Seacrest, baseball great Darryl Strawberry, Jackie Stallone (Sly’s mom) and her daughter, hip-hop star MC Hammer, Sugar Ray singer Mark McGrath, Lionel Richie, Mario Van Peebles, comic actor Chris Tucker, and singing brothers Aaron and Nick Carter all greeted Jackson, who was wearing a knee-length blue sequined jacket and black slacks.
Bobby Taylor, the Motown executive who discovered the Jackson 5 with Gladys Knight back in the late 60s, was also spotted, as was Jackson’s attorney in his child molestation case, Mark Geragos.
There was no sign of Jackson’s usual suspect best friends Liz Taylor, Liza Minnelli, or Macaulay Culkin. Also absent were Jackson’s children Prince, Paris, and “Blanket,” as well as Debbie Rowe, the mother of the first two, and Jackson’s recent managers Dieter Wiesner and Ronald Konitzer.
My sources said that Jackson did spend a big part of the dinner segment of the evening chatting with an unidentified dwarf.
Prominently displayed outside for all to see was a mural of Jackson with children surrounding him as if he were the Pied Piper.
More importantly, Nation of Islam Chief of Staff Leonard Muhammad was present and stuck to Jackson whether he liked it or not. Jackson seemed uncomfortable about the situation. "He tried to ditch Leonard several times by going over and having conversations with his family. Leonard would watch and wait until Michael was finished, then hook right back up with him."
After hours of buffet dining in a huge tent set up in a field, Jackson’s guests — including “lots and lots of children” — were treated to some musical performances and testimonials. Comedian Tommy Davidson emceed the show that included a performance by the Andrae Crouch choir, actress Tisha Campbell reading a poem about Jackson, and symphonic music by the Neverland Orchestra.
The talk all day, I am told, was kept light. “There was no discussion of Michael’s legal situation or the case,” my sources say. The only possible reference to the case was the presence of Santa Barbara attorney Gary Dunlop, who’s suing District Attorney Tom Sneddon for $10 million. Camera crews filmed personal testimonials from many of the guests, who spent their day on the Neverland ferris wheel and other rides. Jackson’s music played in the background on a sound system all over the ranch.
The day ended with a candlelight vigil, and the whole crowd singing along to Jackson’s song, “You Are Not Alone.”
Copyright 2003 Fox News