Michael Jackson's ex-wife Debbie Rowe is "hell-bent for leather" and will do everything she can to make sure her children do not testify in his child-molestation case, sources say.
Sources tell me that Rowe has said she will fight "Michael's continued lunacy" with regard to their children, Prince and Paris.
Prince and Paris were not the only children on the witness list submitted by Jackson's attorney, Thomas Mesereau. Also included were 9-year-old Prudence Brando, daughter of longtime Jackson associate Miko Brando, and the 3-year-old son of former Jackson co-manager Ronald Konitzer.
Brando has also told friends he will not let his daughter take the stand.
Rowe is currently in a family-court war against Jackson over issues of custody and visitation. She has said that she now wants the children back, and is willing even to take custody of Jackson's youngest child, nicknamed Blanket, whose mother's identity is unknown.
Rowe has not received a monthly alimony payment from Jackson since last summer. He's claiming that she violated her confidentiality agreement with him by giving an interview about her horse-raising business to a TV show.
Jackson is also claiming that Rowe gave away her parental rights. The family court judge recently ruled that she hadn't.
The interesting thing about the Jackson defense-witness list is that almost no one on it has been asked by his lawyers or by Jackson himself to take the stand.
In the meantime, Jackson insiders say he is faking the "illness" that put him in the hospital Tuesday.
Jackson did indeed vomit on the way to court. And the night before, he complained of not feeling well to his inner circle at Neverland. But there isn't a person in that circle who actually believes he's sick, I am told.
Jackson was hospitalized for "flu symptoms," which pushed jury selection in his trial back a week.
But no one I talked to, and I mean no one, thinks he has the flu. He's faking it, friends said — and they said it lovingly. They know Michael Jackson, the same guy who gets spider bites and pulls of out of concerts feigning illness.
"I'm surprised it took him this long," said one associate off the record. "I think Elizabeth Taylor taught him this trick. If you don't want to do something, just say you're sick."
The source added, "Michael loves the hospital."
Jackson has a pattern of getting sick during trials. He did it in both 2002 and 2003.
Brian Oxman, now Jackson's attorney, but back then just a Jackson family media person, commented at the time that Jackson was allergic to appearing in court.
This column reported exclusively just last week that on April 17, 1999, Jackson checked himself into New York's Lenox Hill Hospital for an overnight stay. The reason was so he could be "rehydrated" with intravenous fluids. That's the same treatment he's said to be getting now.
Rowe, by the way, is also said to be anxious that Jackson will use faked illnesses involving their children to stop the trial. In June 1999, Jackson used son Prince Michael's viral infection to get out of participating in a concert with Luciano Pavarotti.
"This is for Carl, Dennis and you," Neil Young told Brian Wilson from the stage of the Hollywood Palladium last Friday night.
Then, joining in to salute Wilson as MusicCares' person of the year, Young — who rarely appears at record-industry events — sang a poignant version of "In My Room."
Yes, Carl Wilson and Dennis Wilson, two of the original Beach Boys, are dead. No one would ever have put money on Brian Wilson outliving his brothers.
Brian has lived through the most awful mental tortures. He became notorious for hanging out in a sandbox, getting electroshock treatments and sleeping away the '70s, '80s and part of the '90s.
But Friday night's star-studded salute, organized by NARAS's Dana Tomarken and Neal Portnow, was a hit.
Producer Phil Ramone made everyone sound glorious, even the people who were a little off-key or out of range.
A very pregnant Carnie Wilson was on hand to cheer her dad on, as was Wilson's devoted wife Melinda.
Some of the musicians really hit home runs. The crowd particularly adored "Sail On Sailor" by Jamie Cullum with a gospel choir — after which the entire Warner Music Group stood up and walked out — and Michael McDonald and Billy Preston's double keyboards on "Don't Worry Baby."
My favorite performance was Jeff Beck playing an instrumental guitar solo in place of the lead vocal on Wilson's tour de force, "Surf's Up." It was sheer genius, and I can only hope it was recorded.
There were some other surprisingly good moments too, like the reunited and revived Backstreet Boys doing perfect harmonies on "When I Grow Up to Be a Man." They're about to launch a new album called "Weird World," along with a marketing program.
As opposed to some other boy bands, all the members of the Backstreet Boys can actually sing very, very well. "I Want It That Way" and "Show Me the Meaning of Being Lonely" will outlast all the other bubblegum hits of the '90s.
Former Yankee centerfielder (and one of my heroes) Bobby Murcer made some remarks, and there were other terrific performances by John Legend, Earth, Wind & Fire, Shelby Lynne, Bare Naked Ladies and Richie Sambora, who brought along his beauteous wife, Heather Locklear.
There were also remarks by Sir Howard Stringer and Wilson's longtime collaborator Van Dyke Parks.
Lisa Marie Presley was in the audience with her ex-husband Danny Keogh, as was R&B singer Robert Randolph.
Lots of music-industry types were scattered about as well, including some of my favorites: Robert Kraft and Mary Jo Manello of Fox Music, Charlie Feldman and friends from BMI Music and the legendary Harvey Goldsmith and Linda Moran of the Songwriters Hall of Fame.
Moran's husband, Mike Moran, was one of Elvis Presley's engineers in the early '70s and is still revered by those in the know.
Strangest performance of the night went to comedian Jon Lovitz, who was the nominal host. Riffing on actor/comedian Bob Saget, Lovitz read a poem: "Bob Saget isn't gay/ The sky isn't blue/ Grass isn't green/ And I'm not a Jew."
He told another Friar's Club-like joke and mostly weirded out the straight-laced crowd.
In the end, though, it was Wilson himself who triumphed as he performed parts of his "Smile" album. India.Arie even made a cameo during "God Only Knows."
Quite a night!