Court filings by Michael Jackson's lawyers, released on Wednesday, depict a different kind of grand jury proceeding than the usual, respectful environment.
Transcripts from the Jackson grand jury, included in the defense papers and redacted so that much of it is missing, still depict Santa Barbara District Attorney Tom Sneddon on a rampage to control the proceedings.
According to papers filed by Jackson's attorney Robert Sanger, Sneddon continually browbeat witnesses, fought with them and was often belligerent. Sneddon also gave little respect to the grand jury foreperson, often ignoring her wishes.
According to Sanger, "the grand jury was utterly dependent on the prosecution in every way," including asking for permission to go to the bathroom or even have lunch. "The prosecutors decided when the grand jury would take breaks and when it would adjourn without asking the foreperson."
Sanger's papers indicate a few of the people who were called as grand jury witnesses, including Jackson's accuser, mother, father and the father's attorney. The latter two were treated by Sneddon almost as hostile witnesses, with several sharp exchanges occurring between the DA and each man during questioning. At one point, Sneddon tells the accuser's father that when he speaks to his attorney "maybe you can tell him how I was so mean."
And there are lots of little moments that shed light on the nature of the accusing family's relationship with Jackson. In one instance, for example, it appears that the mother put her 13-year-old son on the phone with Jackson so he — the boy — could decide whether or not to participate in a press conference after the Martin Bashir special aired on TV.
One part of Sanger's motion to set aside the Jackson indictment seems to be the most telling. "Many of the overt acts that Mr. Jackson is alleged to have participated in personally do not have any rational connection to a conspiracy to commit child abduction, false imprisonment, and abduction," the motion reads. Sanger then enumerates them as Jackson "personally preventing" the 13-year-old boy from viewing a television program, providing an alcoholic beverage and a valuable watch to a minor, or bringing the family to stay as guests at his house.
It's also been revealed in the last day or so that Sneddon allowed the boy's mother to tell the grand jury of Jackson "I would never take the devil's money." Insiders are said to be amused by her choice of words there. It was Jackson himself from whom she probably got the "devil" idea. The pop star publicly accused former Sony Music executive Tommy Mottola (search) of being "very devilish" two summers ago.
As for "the devil's money," I'm told there are endless receipts to show just how much of it the boy's mother happily took and spent during the time she says she was held by Jackson's employees "against her will."
Democratic almost presidential candidate Sen. John Kerry raised $7.5 million last night at Radio City Music Hall in a star-studded fundraiser with special appearances by rock stars, famous actors and comedians.
After the show, at a private dinner at the Rainbow Room for donors who contributed $25,000 or more, I asked Kerry to name his favorite all time album.
"I'd have to say 'Abbey Road,'" he said, of the Beatles' 1969 release. Coincidentally, earlier in the evening, Jon Bon Jovi sang "Here Comes the Sun," a track from the famous album.
Bon Jovi was joined last night on stage by an eclectic group put together by VH-1's John Sykes, Miramax chief Harvey Weinstein, and Rolling Stone publisher Jann Wenner. All through the night, Wenner was caught grinning from ear to ear as he sat next to John and Teresa Heinz Kerry. Cropped out of the video image was Wenner's companion, Matt Nye. America, it seems, is not quite ready for that.
The other performers included Wyclef Jean, Mary J. Blige, John Mellencamp (a Wenner favorite and a genuine crowd pleaser), the wildly popular Dave Matthews Band, and special guest John Fogerty. Whoopi Goldberg, Chevy Chase, Meryl Streep, Paul Newman, John Leguizamo and Jessica Lange provided interstitial entertainment in the form of speeches and comic bits. Goldberg scored the most points with her off-color remarks in which President Bush's name became a double entendre.
Chase, who read a long and sometimes tedious speech, also got in a few good lines. When they debate, he said, "Edwards will make Cheney seem as bright as a Bundt cake." Doing a dead-on imitation of Bush with a down-turned smile, Chase also got laughs with: "Kerry plays the guitar, Bush plays the lyre." And: "He went to Yale. He knows about locks and keys."
Former Rolling Stone editor David Wilde, I'm told, wrote a lot of Chase's material.
It was a partisan night, that's for sure, with plenty of expected Bush bashing. Some lyrics to songs were changed or amended for the occasion. Bon Jovi altered a line in "Here Comes the Sun" to "It's been four years since it's been clear." Fogerty, who performed a new song called "Deja Vu," written especially for the night, sang in "Fortunate Son": "I ain't no president's son."
There were other changes too. Wyclef and Mary J. transformed their melodic pre-Sept. 11 hit "Somebody Call 911" from a song about relationships to a chant about the World Trade Center disasters. Wyclef also introduced a trio of young men who sang anti-Bush lyrics to the old hit, "Kansas City." Wyclef, dressed in a natty cream colored suit, gold dress shirt and a brown tie dotted with white terriers, also performed a clever free-style rap and a new song called "When I Become President" that could turn into a campaign anthem.
In the Radio City audience, I spotted Rev. Al Sharpton, actress Edie Falco, Christie Brinkley, Frederick Fekkai, Phil Donahue and Marlo Thomas, Dina Merrill, Fisher Stevens, Patricia Duff, Tina Brown, Arianna Stassinopoulos, and MTV chief Judy McGrath, as well as FOX News and ABC Radio's very own Monica Crowley, looking sharp in a white suit. "I'm doing research," declared the avowed Republican.
Harvey Weinstein, who was attending the Allen & Co. media conference in Sun Valley, Idaho, called Kerry and vice presidential candidate John Edwards after the show to congratulate them. This was right after Kerry played electric guitar and Edwards sang with John Fogerty on the night's big jam session finale of "This Land is Your Land." Kerry told me later he once played in a college band called The Electra's. (You can actually read all about them on kerryrocks.com.) He is slightly more comfortable on stage with his axe than tennis great John McEnroe when he plays with wife Patti Smythe.
Everybody wants to be a rock 'n' roll star, you know.
Sort of "We Are the World" for the millennium is about to be recorded by a bevy of rock stars, I am told.
Kenneth "Babyface" Edmonds is organizing East and West Coast recording sessions starting this Sunday so that performers can be present for an all-star version "Wake Up Everybody," the old R&B hit by Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes.
This Sunday, at New York's Hit Factory, Edmonds is expecting John Mellencamp, Mary J. Blige, Mos Def, Toni Braxton, non-singing impresario Russell Simmons, Sean "P Diddy" Combs, rappers Mase and Nelly, plus Monica, Eve, Chingy, Brandy and Ben Jelen among others. There's talk also of more stars in the New York area who might drop by including Cyndi Lauper, Carly Simon, and others. I'm told the word started spreading last night and that many artists are calling P.R. maven Ken Sunshine's office to get information.
A Los Angeles session is planned for next week at Capitol Records studios.
This isn't the first time since Sept. 11 that stars have gathered for a tribute song. A couple of weeks after the disaster, producers Nile Rodgers and Nancy Hunt organized a similar effort with Diana Ross, Patti LaBelle and Dionne Warwick, among others, singing "We Are Family." The record spawned a foundation and a documentary.
Disney's "King Arthur" got a slow start on Wednesday, with a very shy $4.8 million take. It finished second, but today the very funny "Anchorman" opens nationally, plus "Spider-Man" and "Fahrenheit 9/11" are still hot and show no signs of flagging.
If "King Arthur" turns out to be a weekend flop, Disney, with several of them in a heap, still has three weeks until M. Night Shyamalan's surefire hit, "The Village." But that's a long three weeks.
Oscar-winning director Barry Levinson ("Rain Man") is the guest of honor this Wednesday, July 14 in Stamford, Conn., at the Avon Theater. A double feature of "Tin Men" and "Liberty Heights" will be followed by a Q&A .
The $400 million take for "Shrek 2" plus $60 million for "The Terminal" has put DreamWorks at No. 4 for box office share among the top studios. It had previously fallen off the list. Next up is Michael Mann's "Collateral" with Tom Cruise.
And, thanks to Britain’s Sun newspaper and the ever trusty World Entertainment News Network for lifting our story about Michael Jackson's audiotape. That's called reporting without breaking a sweat!