There’s going to be a tug of war between the defense and the prosecution over a key mystery witness in the Michael Jackson case.
I told you the name of Jay Jackson just the other day. No relation to the Jackson family, Jay — a Caucasian — is thought to be the boyfriend of the mother of Jackson’s 13-year-old accuser.
This Jackson will prove to be integral to the case, as he was witness to the goings-on between the Jackson camp and the mother and her children.
Jackson met the mother and her kids through a youth program in Los Angeles run by the U.S. Navy called Sea Cadets.
In fact, Jackson is actually an employee of the United States Army. He works in the personnel office of the National Guard in the Westwood neighborhood of Los Angeles.
When I called him this week, Jackson immediately hung up the phone. What followed was a call from a representative of the Santa Barbara District Attorney’s office. The message delivered: Jay Jackson would be a witness for the prosecution and therefore under the gag order issued by Judge Ronald Melville.
“He can’t talk to the press,” the official said.
Interestingly, Jackson decamped from his mid-Wilshire apartment immediately after the Neverland raid on Nov. 17. His apartment was rented to new tenants one month later, according to records I saw. He left no forwarding address but remains in the area.
His apartment figures into the story because the mother is said by sources to have used the address so her kids could attend the nearby middle school. I am told that when the school discovered the deception, they bounced the kids.
According to my sources, after meeting Jackson through the Sea Cadets program, the mother began cleaning his apartment in exchange for use of the address. Gradually the relationship became more serious until the mother, as she did with Michael Jackson, urged her children to call Jay Jackson “Daddy.” Jay Jackson may also be called to testify about what the mother’s ex-husband refers to in his own court affidavit as the mother’s “erratic behavior.” I told you this week that the boy’s mother spent time in a Los Angeles mental hospital in 1998.
Jay Jackson will also conceivably be called by the prosecution to corroborate the mother’s testimony about Michael Jackson. But in the end, my sources say, Jay Jackson’s comments about Michael Jackson will only be hearsay, fed to him by the mother. In fact, Jay Jackson may wind up being a better witness for the defense when he is questioned about his relationship with the mother and her attitudes about Michael Jackson.
Jay Jackson will also be questioned on the stand about the “handling” of the mother and children by Michael Jackson’s employees, starting with then-manager Dieter Wiesner, videographer Marc Schaffel and Schaffel’s employees Frank Tyson and Vincent Amen. The latter two, I am told, at Schaffel’s direction (which was based on instructions from Wiesner), entertained the family from late February to early March with the intention of weaning them from Jackson’s generosity and helping them get settled in a new apartment.
In the end, sources say, the mother chose to live with Jay Jackson in Los Angeles when Tyson and Amen refused to help her relocate to a home near Neverland in Solvang, California.
It was a busy day at the Beverly Hills Hotel yesterday as Meg Ryan lunched at the Polo Lounge’s outdoor terrace with an unidentified man. At one point, singer Julia Fordham — who just finished recording her new album with Joni Mitchell producer Larry Klein — stopped by her table. “I love your hair,” Fordham told Ryan. “I love your voice,” Ryan responded.
Meanwhile, in the main ballroom downstairs, newly appointed BMG Music North America chief Clive Davis offered a glimpse into his Saturday night pre-Grammy dinner. Alicia Keys, Annie Lennox and rock group Maroon 5 each did soundchecks while Foo Fighters leader Dave Grohl and wife Jordan came to lend moral support.
Of even more interest were the Stylistics' famous lead singer Russell Thompkins Jr. and another legendary R&B group, Ray, Goodman & Brown. They are said to be part of Keys' performance Saturday night which will include her singing such timeless hits as “Betcha By Golly Wow” and “Special Lady.”
There are even more surprises due at Davis’ party, which may include an appearance by Janet Jackson and rumored performances by Earth, Wind and Fire, and/or Prince. Both of the latter artists have recorded under Davis in the past.
Expected not to show Saturday night: new artist Gavin DeGraw, whose album "Chariot" is in its second week at the top of Billboard’s Heatseeker chart; and Wyclef Jean, who is busy in his New York recording studio with acts for his YClef Records.
Their absences inadvertently solve some problems, since all over town, record industry insiders are clamoring for invites to Davis’ party. As of this week, the RCA Record Group — including RCA Records, J Records, Arista and Jive labels — has now come under his command. (The persistent rumor is that J and Arista will be merged into a label that will not be called, as I like to say, J’Arista.)
This has become an even hotter ticket than to the Grammy ceremony itself, prompting professional freeloader and Internet porno star Paris Hilton to call three times yesterday — I am told — begging for admission. It is unlikely she will make the list. Even as we speak the party planners — with Davis in charge — are trying to figure out where to sit the 800 or so guests in a way that causes excitement, not tension, among friends, enemies and lovers.
Davis, meanwhile, accepted good wishes and gave interviews all afternoon while Keys and Lennox had boffo rehearsals. In order to perform at this annual event, artists must be authentic — i.e. able to sing without augmentation. Both Keys — who is sporting a soft, sexy look devoid of her cornrows and braids — and Lennox — sylph-like, blonde and focused — sang and played yesterday with soulful professionalism, gave their own interviews and showed off their enormous array of talents.
Meanwhile, over at Spago Beverly Hills, new Warner Music owner Edgar Bronfman, Jr., and his first-in-command, Lyor Cohen, were spotted having dinner with an unidentified music business lawyer.