Insiders Fear Jackson Will Commit Suicide
Michael Jackson 's close friends now really fear that he will commit suicide. I am not kidding.
The scene yesterday morning at the courthouse in Santa Maria has convinced people who ordinarily do not say these things that Jackson is in serious mental trouble.
One thing is for sure: The combined pressures of his financial peril and seeing his accuser on the stand have undone Jackson.
My insider says: "He does not have back trouble," as Jackson claimed. "He's making it up. But he's definitely in pain. He's creating it."
Jackson's publicist, Raymone Bain, insists that Jackson called his lawyer, Tom Mesereau, at 5:15am PST Thursday morning to tell him of his severe back pain. But I can tell you that Jackson also made other calls to a variety of people. He didn't sound like he was in pain. He sounded like someone who'd been up all night and was frantic.
That's because Wednesday night, as we reported earlier, a meeting took place at Neverland concerning the dire financial picture. Staffers have not been paid in two weeks. Some have walked off the job. Others are holding on for the moment, but as one said to me yesterday: "When does loyalty become stupidity?"
Another Jackson source put the dilemma succinctly: "Michael is most terrified of people thinking he's broke. And now there's proof of it."
On Wednesday, Jackson's brother Randy promised to come up with $150,000 to meet the arrears in payroll at Neverland. This did not materialize, and on Thursday morning Randy was still under the gun to find the money to keep the ranch going.
Ironically, $150,000 used to be pocket change to Jackson, who routinely squandered millions on nonsensical, worthless souvenirs and tchotchkes. When he paid his 1993 accuser $20 million to avoid a court case, it was like a drop in the bucket.
But now a relatively small amount of money has driven him to wear pajamas and slippers to court on the most important day of his trial. Ironically — as I reported yesterday — Randy Jackson tried to borrow $200,000 from another member of the inner circle — and failed.
Today may be the most important day in the 46 years Michael Jackson has moonwalked this earth.
In court, his 15-year-old accuser will make claims of sexual molestation and kidnapping. Because his cross-examination won't start until tomorrow, the icky allegations will come off as fact for at least one news cycle.
At the same time, Jackson must face a crisis at home. Members of his household staff at the Neverland Valley Ranch have walked off the job after not receiving paychecks for the second consecutive week.
Last night, members of Michael's family met at Neverland to discuss the situation. This morning, Michael's mother may find herself feeding the llamas.
As this column reported yesterday, Jackson has actually run out of money. His household account at Bank of America is empty and Jackson is unable to make the ranch's payroll.
What happened? Jackson ate through $9 million available to him for basic expenditures that the bank allowed. Another $3 million has gone to legal expenses, but my sources point out that Jackson's lawyers haven't received remuneration in at least three months.
What's not happening: Money isn't coming in from royalty payments and other sources of music income. It will come again, but not right now.
In Jackson's world, that has produced a dire situation. Neverland employs housekeepers, chefs, security people, groundskeepers, gardeners, painters, mechanics, horse handlers and irrigation experts. Many of them will not be reporting to work this morning.
I told you yesterday that Michael's brother Randy is being blamed for a lot of this, and that Jackson is probably removing many of his brother's responsibilities today.
But Randy can't be held entirely accountable for this situation. Jackson, my sources reminded us, created the problem himself by never dealing with the reality of his financial picture. Now he must pay up.
What will happen: Deals have been drawn up for Jackson to sell half of his remaining share in Sony/ATV Music Publishing. This would create instant income and set his ship right, at least for now.
Someone in his circle will come to him with an offer shortly. But there's no telling if he will accept it. He is backed into a corner.
One person who may know what's happened to the Neverland money is accountant Don Stabler, who was hired by Randy to manage Michael's affairs.
Stabler, according to my sources, was brought in so Randy could bypass Michael's longtime accountant Alan Whitman.
Yesterday, Stabler first told me that nothing was wrong and that everyone had been paid.
When I insisted that this wasn't true, Stabler replied, "You should keep an open mind."
As for the testimony today of the accusing boy: Linda Deutsch, the excellent Associated Press reporter covering the trial, has described the expression on his face as a "sneer."
So far in his testimony, the boy has said Jackson instructed him to call him "Daddy" when Martin Bashir was filming his documentary. But defense attorney Tom Mesereau will comb the boy's grand-jury testimony for inconsistencies with his current version of his story when the cross-examination begins.
Last night at Elaine's, you couldn't toss a peppered flatbread without running into someone famous.
Legendary French film star Catherine Deneuve, looking exquisite, dined with friends at the back of the eatery, while Charlie Rose and lady friend Amanda Burden commanded the very front table.
In between: Atlantic Records founder Ahmet Ertegun and wife Mica supped with producer Jean Doumanian and companion Jacqui Safra.
In between, media tables: New York broadcaster Lynn White was toasted by syndicated chat host Byron Allen, famed blonde TV and radio star Patricia Duff, MTV's Serena Altschul, "Show Circuit" magazine editor Jill Brooke and actor Ron Silver for getting out of the WB 11's silly morning show. White is getting offers from all over.
Next table, more media: MSNBC's Dan Abrams, Dave Zinczenko of Men's Health and Michael Lewittes of "Access Hollywood" were all causing — or looking for — trouble.
And there was Elaine Kaufman herself, placidly taking it all in, recounting her recent star-studded Oscar party for Entertainment Weekly and the appearance this past Sunday of Arnold Schwarzenegger late in the evening.
"'Pumping Iron' started here," Elaine recalled. "This is where they came up with the idea."
The Governator brought a bodyguard, Elaine said, but she shooed him away in her own inimitable style.
"I told him: 'What are you guarding him from? He's been coming here for 30 years without a problem,'" she said.
Meanwhile, over at the Coffee Shop on Union Square, Lindsay Lohan put in her second public appearance of the week — she's getting pretty good at this by now.
This one was for Napster to Go, the new $14.95-per-month online subscription service started from the digital ashes of the once illegal file-swapping service.
The Napsterians handed out cool tiny free 5-gigabyte iRiver MP3 players as an incentive. I'm going to check mine out thoroughly, but don't think this column has abandoned its allegiance to the Creative Zen Touch.
Napster to Go works with most MP3 players from Creative, iRiver, Gateway, Dell and other companies. Next stop for the Napster giveaway parties: Austin, Los Angeles and Nashville.