Michael Jackson | Kevin Costner | Nathan Lane | iPod Lawsuit

A Blueprint for the Case Against Jacko?

My sources tell me that Santa Barbara District Attorney Tom Sneddon used his 1993 case against Michael Jackson as a blueprint for the current one.

In fact, in legal papers summarized on TheSmokingGun.com, it appears that some of the actual wording from the '93 case worked its way into the latest one.

Sneddon, my sources say, based most of his first complaint against Jackson last winter on the '93 case, using it as a comparison and a foundation until he could dig up more current evidence.

Interestingly, testimony ascribed to the mother of the boy — we'll call her Janet X — in the new case sounds exactly like similar complaints from the parents in the '93 case.

According to The Smoking Gun: "The boy's mother said that, during 2001, she complained to Jackson about the length of his telephone chats with her son — and that Jackson was upset with her criticism. Asked by investigators about her recollections of those calls, she said that her son mentioned things that struck her as 'peculiar.' For instance, Jackson's favorite color was the same as her son's favorite color. And 'whatever [her son] liked, Michael liked as well.'"

Jackson's defense attorneys may be able to dredge up almost the exact wording from articles and books about the boy in the 1993 case. They could point out that Janet X and her military boyfriend, now her husband, Jay Jackson (no relation to Michael's family), could have studied those stories and statements by the parents of the first boy.

Similar anecdotes, for example, can be found in "All That Glitters," the self-published book by the first boy's uncle Ray Chandler. Stories that are themselves re-lived from previous incarnations.

The Smoking Gun people have done an incredible job of piecing together affidavits, warrants and testimony previously unavailable or redacted in the latest case. But even their writers seem incredulous about some things offered by Jackson's teen accuser and his brother, who is a year younger.

For example, the brothers claimed to officials the reason why they couldn't pinpoint any dates or times was because "there are no clocks or calendars at Neverland. It's a like a sealed Las Vegas casino."

In fact, The Smoking Gun writers point out that there's a huge outdoor clock right in the middle of the estate. My own sources laughed when I read them this part of the boys' accusations.

"There are clocks everywhere, everyone has watches and there are calendars in the offices. There's a big clock in the kitchen" where the accusing boy and his brother gave their famous TV interviews to Martin Bashir, a source said.

This entire latest "scoop" drawn from so-far-unseen material is indeed not very revealing. Most of it has been "scooped" a long time ago, either in this column or sometimes in the tabloids.

What does seem odd is that the grand jury, presented with no opposing evidence from the defense, believed everything it heard without questioning. In one instance, they were told that Jackson showed the boys a laptop computer and immediately went to a pornographic Web site.

"It was the kids who went to the Web sites. Michael was busy elsewhere. The kids knew exactly where to go," my source, who was there, said.

One thing the documents do confirm: Jackson had no contact with the family in 2001. The stated reason was because the boy was having treatments for cancer, which was already in remission.

But my sources remind us that in 2001, Jackson was busy making and releasing his "Invincible" album, preparing and executing his 30th-anniversary solo shows at Madison Square Garden and his subsequent debacle of a charity single, "What More Can I Give?"

If the family was so important to Jackson and he was busy cultivating the oldest one as a victim, why weren't they invited to New York for the concerts and all the surrounding hoopla?

Indeed, during 2001, the family was busy being entertained by Chris Tucker and Brett Ratner on the set of "Rush Hour 2," and later in the year, accepting gifts and charity from the Los Angeles Police Department — all of which was first chronicled in this column.

There are more glaring inconsistencies in the papers examined by The Smoking Gun, and I suppose it will take spin doctors on both sides to explain them to us.

For example, why didn't Janet X stop Jackson when she saw him licking the top of her son's head on an airplane? Why didn't she berate him or mention it again?

Or, how is it that the younger boy, who seems to be the eyewitness and mouthpiece for the family, gained the nickname of "Blowhole"?

The answer, say my sources, who have photographic evidence, is not sexual. It's because the kid was so fat they compared him to a blowfish.

There's more, but much more, and that's what's going to prove interesting as the case moves ahead now to trial: whether this is all the material the prosecution has, and if it can hold up to scrutiny in court.

A Costner Comeback on the Horizon?

Could it be? Kevin Costner may yet have his comeback. Stranger things have happened.

It won't open at Sundance until Jan. 22, but last night I had a sneak peek at Mike Binder's domestic "dramedy," "The Upside of Anger."

This ensemble piece, which resembles "Terms of Endearment," centers on a bravura performance by multi-Oscar nominee Joan Allen that should carry the actress right through 2005 and into the next awards season.

But it is also notable for a surprisingly shaded performance by Kevin Costner as a failed former superstar baseball player who now hosts an afternoon radio show in Detroit.

For Costner, the character of Denny Davies is the natural third part of a trilogy that began with his character Crash Davis in 1988's "Bull Durham" and continued with golfer Roy McAvoy in 1996's "Tin Cup." The three characters could easily be one.

Costner, who has more turkeys in his past than the Pilgrims, is so at ease with Allen it's a wonder they've never made a film together before. But in the past, Costner's films have cost so much that he could never afford to have an Oscar nominee at his side.

Jeanne Tripplehorn was his leading lady in "Waterworld," and can you even name his love interest from "The Postman"? (Answer: Olivia Williams, not exactly a marquee name.)

Arguably, Costner has never had an actress of Allen's caliber to play against. The result is gratifying for everyone involved.

Binder made "The Upside of Anger" after a couple of rocky seasons with his "Mind of the Married Man" over on HBO. I'll never forget the hilarious episode in which his character's TiVo thought he was gay.

Since we're still two weeks away from a real premiere, I won't give an actual review of the film itself here. Only know this: Costner should be sending Binder a magnum of whatever he drinks this morning.

All memories of (fill in the blank) are obliterated. Now, with Costner back with his original agent, J.J. Harris, he is possibly on the right track again.

Nathan Lane's New Year's Eve Pain

Yes, we spent $600 on six tickets to see Nathan Lane in the London production of "The Producers" on New Year's Eve.

No, he was not in the show. Claiming back trouble, he left a few days earlier, giving us his able understudy instead.

So where was Lane? Already back in New York, apparently, and enjoying New Year's Eve with Matthew Broderick, Sarah Jessica Parker and about 30 other revelers at a two-year-old Lower East Side restaurant called Apizz.

I was a little "a-pizzed" off myself when I heard this, so I called the restaurant to make sure Lane did not enjoy himself.

Alas, he did not. While we were watching his show, he was in terrible pain, according to the eatery's owner, Pam Manella.

"We got him a pillow for his back, but that didn't work," she said. "He was pretty low-key, but definitely feeling bad. He was in severe pain. He left shortly after midnight."

The private party was arranged for by Parker — no go-betweens or assistants — who heard about Apizz through "Sex in the City" castmate Mario Cantone, who in turn knew it about from stage director Joe Mantello.

Among the other guests were Kristen Johnson ("Third Rock From the Sun"), Jesse Martin ("Law & Order") and Mantello. The party broke up at 1:30 a.m., which in England is 6:30 a.m., or just about nine hours after Lane should have been throwing himself around the stage. At least we know where he was now.

Apple Suit? Get Creative

According to press reports yesterday, a man named Thomas Slattery is suing Apple.

Why? He claims they "forced" him to buy an iPod because it's the only portable player that works with the iTunes Music Store.

Slattery is obviously not a reader of this column. Those who are not inclined toward purchasing an iPod have many choices, including the popular iRiver, a new Sony player and the Zen Touch from Creative Labs.

I prefer the latter and use it with the Microsoft MSN Music Library, which is just as good as iTunes.

Creative Labs now also offers the Micro, which holds 5GB of music and is as light and pretty as the iPod Mini. It also comes in many colors and costs less. I guess about 3,000 MP3 songs can fit in there.

That's a lot of music, Mr. Slattery, more than you'll need waiting in court to hear your case called. Case closed!