Michael Jackson | Kirstie Alley | 'The Passion' | 'Midsummer' and Spader

Janet Bailed Jacko Out

Last week's big Neverland payroll payout came not from a credit line obtained by Michael Jackson's brother Randy.

No, sources tell me it came instead from his pop-star sister, Janet.

Even though Janet's last album, "Damita Jo," was a bust (thanks at least in part to her bust being exposed during the 2004 Super Bowl), Michael's little sister is pretty rich. She makes a bundle touring, for one thing, a source noted.

But Janet's largesse can't become a weekly event.

Last week, for example, Randy scrambled to make more payments by combining a few shekels in Michael's Bank of America corporate account with dough he scraped up "on his own."

Where that money came from is a mystery, but this much isn't: No million-dollar credit line appeared last week like manna from heaven.

In fact, Randy had a big problem last week when he tried to borrow money from various sources. Michael's agreement with Bank of America bars him from taking any more loans, even from friends.

At one point I'm told, Randy thought he had a source of cash. But when that source wanted to make sure the money would be returned — making it a loan, not a gift — the bank nixed the idea.

Janet's donation of $150,000 was just that, a gift — and she won't be seeing it returned anytime in the near future.

How bad is the cash situation at Neverland? Well, I recently learned that Michael's longtime investigator, Eric Mason, the man who worked for Jackson's attorneys on and off for 12 years, quietly resigned over the winter.

Mason — never a formal Jackson employee — came on the scene with Johnnie Cochran, Zia Modabber and Steve Cochran back in 1994, after celebrity lawyer Bert Fields and private investigator Anthony Pellicano were removed from Jackson's life.

Mason is famous in Jackson circles for his loyalty and steadfastness, as he'd handled all of Michael's disasters since then.

But last November, I am told, Mason finally gave up. Sources say it's unclear whether Michael even knows that Mason is gone, even though the investigator sent him a letter of resignation.

Calls to Mason were not returned.

Kirstie's Comeback: Jen Wants In

It looks like Kirstie Alley's comeback sitcom, "Fat Actress," is a hit.

Sources tell me that Showtime is about to renew it for a real run of about 12 episodes; the original order was for seven.

Apparently, the number of celebrities who want to be guest stars is growing. The latest news I've gotten is that Jennifer Aniston has voiced interest in doing a show.

So far the celeb appearances have been divided between a lot of Kirstie's fellow Scientologists — Leah Remini, John Travolta, Kelly Preston — and former co-stars (Rhea Perlman of "Cheers" is in Episode 7).

There shouldn't be much to bringing "Fat Actress" back for more episodes. Negotiating with Alley is expected to go smoothly, considering that prior to this she was schlepping for Pier 1 Imports.

The show is also funny, which helps, although Alley has dropped 20 pounds since the show was filmed.

For the next season, the jokes and the concept may have to be refined — like sugar.

No 'Passion' for Vermont, Maine, Detroit

Newmarket Films, distributor of "The Passion Recut" — that's the toned-down, unrated version of Mel Gibson's bloody, anti-Semitic diatribe — obviously didn't think the whole country wanted to see this thing again.

The 290 theatres it chose for the new version's release were not in Maine, Vermont or the city of Detroit. Only one theater in Manhattan got the film.

The places that did get "The Passion Recut" didn't really want it anyway. The movie took in about $40,000 total, meaning about four people were at each show. It's likely that many shows, however, were empty, except for the projectionist.

By comparison, roughly 7,400 people went to see Woody Allen's "Melinda and Melinda," and that was only in one theater.

'Midsummer' Romps, Spader Stomps

If you're in New York, you only have one more chance to see Campbell Scott, Marcia Gay Harden and Hope Davis in "A Midsummer Night's Dream" at Avery Fisher Hall. On Friday night, I spotted Patricia Clarkson in the audience, as well as PR guru Bobby Zarem and real estate empress Kathy Sloane.

Seven actors in total — including the less well-known, but very funny Reg Rogers — read/act out an abbreviated version of Shakespeare's comedy while the Philharmonic plays music specially written for it by Felix Mendelssohn. This includes a full version of what became known to us as "The Wedding March." It's a memorable, great evening, and not to be missed.

I confess to not watching a lot of network TV dramas these days. But James Spader was so good on the goofy "Boston Legal" last night, you can see why he's been winning the Emmy so often. This episode should guarantee him one more for the mantlepiece.

At the same time, someone must have blackmailed Kathy Baker and Bryan Brown to be part of CBS's "Spring Break Shark Attack," which aired last night. What a shame. It would have been cheaper — and more fun — to rerun "Jaws 2."

Artist Damon Johnson unveils a new mural at Quo on the West Side of Manhattan on Wednesday night. This is the same place where Romero Britto, Michael Jackson's favorite artist, just had a big party and unveiling of new portraits.