Ring for Sale | Jacko 'Model' Releases | Hollywood vs. New York

Jackson's Wedding Ring for Sale on eBay

Debbie Rowe's wedding ring from her marriage to Michael Jackson is up for auction right now on eBay.

I told you exclusively several weeks ago that Rowe planned on selling the ring once Jackson canceled her alimony payments.

A description of the ring can be found at eBay.com. All you need to know is that it's heavy and real. For Jackson, who likes to shop in Las Vegas tchotchke shops, it's nicely designed.

So far about 6 people have placed 14 bids on the ring since Thursday afternoon. The opening bid was $50,000, and as of Saturday night, the high was $102,000. According to the Web site, a reserve price, or minimum, has not been met.

Rowe, by the way, is locked in a family-court battle with Jackson over their two children, Prince Michael and Paris. She has not been allowed to see them in two years. But now she wants more access to them after watching the children's exposure to Jackson's current scandal.

Jacko: Accuser's Mom Wrote 'Model' Releases

What I've tried to tell you all along about this Michael Jackson prosecution came to light yesterday in court: The D.A. has a bad case.

Not just a weak case, but a bad one. No matter what you think Michael Jackson did or didn't do in the past, this family has set him up.

Granted, I have no idea if Jackson did or didn't molest the now 15-year-old boy at the center of the case. But I do know that the boy's mother and her now-husband invented the story of the family's kidnapping.

Yesterday, the 18-year-old sister of the boy broke down on the stand and admitted to defense attorney Thomas Mesereau Jr. that she'd already lied in her testimony.

"So you'd lie about certain things and tell the truth about certain things, depending on what you are asked, right?" Mesereau asked the woman.

"Yeah," she replied.

That's the beginning of the end for the prosecution.

Add that to what I already told you this week about how the mother sold her story to a British tabloid for $4,000, before she and her kids went to Miami, and then on to Neverland, with Jackson.

All of this, of course, was after the airing of the Martin Bashir special on Feb. 6, 2003.

In that same interview, comedy club owner Jamie Masada claimed that the boy — then 13 — was smart enough to report if anything inappropriate happened between him and Jackson.

A big part of the sister's testimony this week concerned a video that was shot overnight on Feb. 19-20, 2003.

The family claimed that they were forced to make the video by Jackson's associates, who they said wrote a script for them extolling Jackson's virtues. But there are a few problems with this story that the prosecution will have to deal with next week.

First: If the video was so important, why was it never used? A "rebuttal video" made by Jackson's team did air on FOX TV, but it didn't include this testimonial at all. Until the jury saw the tape yesterday, no one in Jackson's inner circle had seen it.

The prosecutors, and anyone who's read the grand jury testimony in this case, know the reason for the video's lack of play.

The videographer kept the tape after it was completed because he said Jackson owed him money. He simply refused to turn it over.

His price was $400,000, but no one in Jackson's camp, I am told, thought it was important enough to meet his demands.

This is something the D.A.'s office has managed to omit from its prosecution. Until investigators raided the cameraman's house, the tape had remained dormant.

An insider in the case says, "If this so-called scripted video was so vital to maintaining Michael's image — which is what the D.A. says — the team could have paid the $400,000 and used it. But they didn't."

As for the much-ballyhooed script: There wasn't one, and that will come out on Monday. The sister has already said that Jackson's German manager "wrote a script" for the family to perform.

Again, my insider laughed: "Dieter Wiesner barely speaks English — forget about writing it. Christian Robinson, the cameraman, wrote out some questions to ask the family. Their answers were their own."

Robinson typed out the questions so hastily that they're even numbered wrong on the page. The 15 questions for the boy included: Do you travel with Michael? What's it like? What do you like about your friendship with Michael Jackson? And: What do you think is special about your friendship with Michael Jackson?

Fifteen more questions for the mother included: Do you believe in God? How close are you and [the accuser]? So if there was something not right with [the accuser], you feel he would talk to you about it?

According to my sources, the mother's then-boyfriend, an Army major, was present when the filming began.

"But he got so bored, he left," the source said. "He didn't even stay to take the family home."

The major didn't mind that the family would be chauffeured by a Jackson staffer. Apparently he hadn't gotten the memo that they were being held against their will.

The family, my source points out, also signed model releases written by the mother for herself and her kids.

"Her own words!" my source reiterated. "The whole thing is crazy."

Does Oscar Hate New Yorkers?

All week I've been fielding one question about the Oscars: How did "Million Dollar Baby" triumph over "The Aviator"?

It's a good question. I don't know if there is one answer to it.

First of all, there's no debate about the quality of "Million Dollar Baby." It's a finely wrought film, particularly the first half, which focuses on boxing. Some may find the second half a bit sappy and Hilary Swank's movie family a little stereotyped.

But overall, the performances are of the highest quality. Clint Eastwood continues to surprise and awe us all as an actor and a director. He deserves all the acclaim he's received.

But Eastwood already had a best-director statue for "Unforgiven." What about Martin Scorsese? Why does the Academy hate him?

How is it possible that the director of "Mean Streets," "Taxi Driver," "Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore," "The King of Comedy," "Raging Bull," "After Hours," "Goodfellas," "The Age of Innocence," "Gangs of New York" and now "The Aviator" has no award for his gargantuan achievements? Is it something about him?

I think yes and no. You saw on Sunday that the Academy had to give a lifetime-achievement award to Sidney Lumet. Somehow they'd managed to ignore him previously for "Prince of the City," "Serpico," "Daniel," "Fail-Safe," "12 Angry Men," "Network" and "Dog Day Afternoon." Pretty wild, right?

But Robert Altman has no Oscar. Woody Allen has two, for "Annie Hall" and "Hannah and Her Sisters," but not for "Crimes and Misdemeanors," "Zelig," "Broadway Danny Rose" or "Manhattan." Crazy, right?

But Scorsese, Allen, Altman and Lumet are all considered outsiders by the Academy — New York directors who are not part of the purring economy called Hollywood.

So far, three of Scorsese's five losses have been to popular actors who dabble in directing: Eastwood, Kevin Costner and Robert Redford. That's not a coincidence. At various times those three men have been huge moneymakers for Hollywood, where most Academy members live and thrive.

How else, also, to explain Mel Gibson winning best director for "Braveheart" in 1996 over Mike Figgis, Michael Radford and Tim Robbins?

Nine years later, their work on "Leaving Las Vegas," "Il Postino" and "Dead Man Walking" holds up as superior in every way to the violent, hackneyed swashbuckling in "Braveheart."

But those three were all outsiders, and Gibson was the blue-eyed moneymaker of "Lethal Weapon." He might as well have been running for class president.

Scorsese, et al., represent a weird cast of interlopers who have no vested interest in Bel Air mansions, Rolls-Royces or Ed Limato's buffet dinner to the Academy voters.

You can also throw in a bunch of deceased and important directors, such as Martin Ritt, John Cassavetes and Hal Ashby, who never got Oscars but will be long remembered when many winners are forgotten. They were also outsiders who didn't care what the Academy thought.

In the new generation, add the names of the Joel and Ethan Coen, Quentin Tarantino, Spike Lee and Wes Anderson to that list as well. Hollywood doesn't like 'em.

They'll give them nominations, but the actual award is an uphill battle all the way. How else to explain "Forrest Gump" beating "Pulp Fiction," an influential classic, for best picture in 1995?

HBO has the same problems with the Emmys as Miramax and other East Coast producers have with the Oscars.

Even though the premium-cable channel gets rafts of nominations every year, the actual awards are hard to come by. It was only this past fall that "The Sopranos" finally got best drama. "Sex and the City" only won once in 2001.

Otherwise, the Hollywood TV community likes its hometown heroes: "The West Wing," "Everybody Loves Raymond," etc. It could be argued that HBO wins so many mini-series and movies-for-TV awards because the networks long ago abandoned those genres. HBO also makes really good ones, which helps.

So don't cry for Martin Scorsese. There isn't a serious director in the world who wouldn't want to trade places with him in a second. Historically, and for posterity, he is set. If he stopped making films tomorrow, Scorsese would still be considered the king of kings.

In the end, he, Altman, Lumet, Francis Ford Coppola (save for "The Godfather") and Allen don't need any more Oscars. They are the Supreme Court of directing, the Rushmore-ians, and — as Cole Porter might say — the tip, tip top. They've already won, and handily.