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A Sharon Stone Tsunami Fund-Raiser?

Sharon Stone | Michael Jackson | Madonna | Nile Rodgers

Sharon Stone Tsunami Fund-Raiser?

Is Sharon Stone about to turn her gift for fund-raising to the victims of the Southeast Asian tsunami?

My sources say she's been talking to songwriter, and ex-wife of a former fugitive, Denise Rich, about staging some kind of "We Are the World"-style effort.

Stone would marshal her Hollywood pals, while Rich can count on participation from friends like Natalie Cole and Patti LaBelle, among others.

Stone was conspicuously absent from last night's AmFar tribute to the late photographer Herb Ritts. An ardent AmFar supporter, Stone usually shows up at these events and pulls greenbacks from the least willing donors.

Alas, that was not the case last night, but a bevy of stars still trotted down the red carpet, including Richard Gere, Julianne Moore and husband director Bart Freundlich, Jon Bon Jovi and wife Dorothea, Dr. Mathilde Krim, Helena Christensen, "Princess Diaries" star Anne Hathaway, "Merchant of Venice" actress Lynn Collins and a trio of under-appreciated Victoria's Secret beauties.

Elton John and David Furnish, however, skipped the publicity portion and sneaked in through a back door.

Will Jacko Defense Rally the Troops?

Are Michael Jackson's defense lawyers finally rallying the troops?

After our column on Tuesday, it seems that they may indeed be waking up with the house on fire.

I told you then that certain witnesses had never been contacted by the defense, and that many witnesses likely to be called by either side have managed to evade subpoenas simply by staying out of the state of California.

But the Jackson team must have panicked a little yesterday. I'm told they sent messages out to several errant possible witnesses that they'd like to talk, and right away.

Jackson, my sources say, has actually been spending some quality time with his defense team, for once. It only took a year, but what the heck? Now is as good a time as any — since the trial will begin in about three weeks.

High-profile witnesses are ready, I am told, to help Jackson.

As I reported before, "Rush Hour" director Brett Ratner and star Chris Tucker are all set to take the stand for the defense. They each had a massive amount of contact with the accuser and his family and have little good to say about them.

Tucker, especially, should have some fascinating recollections, I am assured, of the family's determination to make powerful, wealthy friends and keep them.

It was while Tucker was taking care of the accuser and his family that the mother conned Los Angeles Police Department cops into helping her with Christmas bills. They gave her a tree and gifts, unaware that the family was already being helped by celebrities.

Today, by the way, marks the second anniversary of the airing of the documentary "Living With Michael Jackson" in Britain. Three nights later, the show aired in the U.S. and all hell broke loose.

The defense, however, will almost certainly trot out a statement made by the mother to the British press: "At no time has [my son] ever been treated with anything other than love, respect and the deepest kindness by Michael. Michael has been so important in [my son] being able to recover from cancer. His constant support, both practical and emotional, helped give my beautiful little boy the strength to fight his cancer."

Not only will the defense hammer home that statement, but they will likely turn the jury's attention to the mother's new husband, who was then her boyfriend.

I told you one year ago today that Maj. Jay Jackson (no relation to Michael) met the mother and her kids through a youth program in Los Angeles run by the U.S. Navy called Sea Cadets.

At first, apparently, the two were not involved romantically. The mother was actually cleaning Jackson's apartment in exchange for him letting her use his address to put her kids in a good public school.

Gradually, the relationship became more serious. The mother urged her children to call Jay Jackson "Daddy," just as she had had them address Michael Jackson. The three children's real father was not absent from the scene.

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 last year that the boy's mother spent time in a Los Angeles mental hospital in 1998. The ex-husband will undoubtedly testify about that as well.

Jay Jackson becomes a more and more interesting character in this case as time goes by. He decamped from the tiny mid-Wilshire apartment the entire family was sharing immediately after the police raided Neverland on Nov. 17, 2003.

His apartment was rented to new tenants one month later, according to records I saw. He left no forwarding address.

Madonna's Family Kabbalah Kibosh

Has Madonna abandoned her blood relatives because they don't like Kabbalah?

Sources say the Material Girl no longer lends a helping hand to brother Christopher Ciccone, or nearly any of her siblings, because they won't join a group based on the Jewish mystical tradition.

Martin, Anthony, Paula, Melanie, Mario and Jennifer Ciccone are said to be largely on the outs with Madonna at this point, although one of the sisters is said to have worked for Madonna for a time as nanny to her kids, Lourdes and Rocco. It's always been popular among celebs to employ a relative as a caretaker.

Christopher Ciccone, previously close to his sister, has dabbled in various careers and is said to be "very talented." A source tells me Ciccone is "struggling."

Madonna, by the way, is worth over $100 million, according to Forbes magazine.

Making Plans for Nile, and Ruth Brown Returns

Nile Rodgers and Chic are set to entertain at the big shindig following the Grammys at the Staples Center in Los Angeles on Feb. 13.

This is the first time the Grammys have attempted to create a Golden Globe-like atmosphere, with a party right on the premises following the show. Sony BMG, EMI and Warner Music Group are still planning their own celebrations.

Stevie Wonder and Prince are among the expected guests at the annual Artists Empowerment Coalition lunch on Saturday at the Beverly Hilton Hotel. This is turning into one of the hot tickets of Grammy weekend.

Cher has announced that she will actually play her last show in April in Los Angeles. Her "Farewell" tour has been going strong for three years all over the world, and she's played all but four of the 50 states as well.

Diana Ross never did make her appearance at the Apollo Theater in Harlem, although it was advertised for a short time. Are we surprised?

Tonight, newly minted author Adam Fawer signs copies of his hot first thriller, "Improbable," at the Partners in Crime bookstore on Greenwich Ave. This one's headed for the bestseller list.

And the mighty Ruth Brown has returned to Au Bar on East 58th St. in Manhattan for a month-long run. This is a rare opportunity for fans.