Michael Jackson's former PR guy is not going to lie for his ex-boss. And that's a good thing.
Bob Jones, who was with Jacko for over 20 years and knows all his secrets, got caught in the whirlpool of the pop star's scandal yesterday.
In court, District Attorney Tom Sneddon fingered Jones as a key witness who would come in and testify that he saw inappropriate activity between Jackson and an underage boy.
But it turns out that Sneddon may have gotten his signals crossed.
Apparently, he got his hands on a book proposal submitted by agent Laurie Liss of the Sterling Lord Literistic Agency in New York.
The proposal was co-written by Stacy Brown and Dennis Love. The authors' previous work was a biography of Stevie Wonder's mother, currently hovering around No. 450,000 on Amazon.com's sales rankings.
In the proposal, Brown and Love claimed that Jones had seen Jackson do something "inappropriate" to the boy, who received a $20 million settlement from Jackson in 1994.
But later in court, defense attorney Tom Mesereau announced that Jones had recanted his statement.
Indeed, my sources say that Jones never claimed to have seen anything unsavory. He's very upset about the book proposal getting out and having something wrong in it, my insider says.
In fact, if Jones takes the stand, he will only say that he saw Jackson curled up in an airplane seat with the boy on a flight home from Europe. No kissing, touching, licking or anything else.
This entire episode is proving to be something of a nightmare for Jones. I told you back in September that he was shopping the book proposal as the result of Michael's brother Randy Jackson firing him without notice on June 10, 2004.
Jones was so affronted by Randy's lack of care in handling his dismissal that he immediately consulted an attorney and became, at least for a time, Jackson's potential enemy, my source said.
But Randy's poor handling of Jones' situation is only one of the severe problems facing the defense in the Jackson trial.
Yesterday, I spent the entire day in court and noticed at least a couple of holes in the Jackson campaign.
For one thing, Mesereau and his sidekick Brian Oxman barely speak to each other. Oxman is relegated to "the kids' table," far from the real action up front where Mesereau sits with his real partner in this case, Robert Sanger.
The other problem with Jackson's team is a complete lack of spin control or guidance present at the courthouse or in Santa Maria.
Jackson's so-called PR expert, Raymone Bain, wasn't here to interpret yesterday's major ruling on his alleged "prior acts" of sexual abuse.
I spotted her on TV later last night acting like an expert, but that didn't help anyone here.
Of course, lack of funds could preclude Bain from being here on a regular basis, but the absence of someone in charge is keenly felt.
The single biggest problem in the Jackson case, in fact, has been Michael's inability, or rather insistence, on making enemies out of people who could help him.
Jones is one. His ex-wife Debbie Rowe and former business partner Marc Schaffel are two more.
There's one more. But that person, who shall go unnamed for now, will surprise him even more.
District Attorney Tom Sneddon made an impressive announcement yesterday of about 30 witnesses he plans on bringing into court to explore Michael Jackson's alleged "prior acts" of sexual abuse.
In his plea to the judge, he didn't use names. Instead, he read off what they would say.
But in the end, there were no surprises when Judge Rodney Melville read the names of the nine witnesses he would allow the prosecution to grill.
In fact, Sneddon appears to be trying the 1993 case he never a chance got to tackle. He will not offer a single witness who has anything to say about what Jackson has done in the past decade.
The witnesses Melville read off are the aforementioned Bob Jones, plus June Chandler, mother of the boy who received $20 million in 1994; former Jackson maid Blanca Francia and her son, Jason Francia, who received $2 million from Jackson in 1994; and a group of disgruntled former Neverland employees, including Philip and Stella LeMarque.
Four former employees who sued Jackson for wrongful dismissal, and lost, will also testify: Ralph Chacon, Charli Michaels, Adrian McManus and Charmagne Sternberg.
In other words, Sneddon will offer no bombshells or surprises. Only Jason Francia promises first-person recital of some kind of sexual abuse. For that, his mother took $2 million from Jackson and $20,000 from the TV show "Hard Copy." All the others will bring third-party reporting.
As of Monday's ruling, people who appear in a 1997 book by Victor Gutierrez, "Michael Jackson Was My Lover," have entered the Jacko trial's cast of characters.
The book was not published in the U.S. because Jackson won a libel suit against the author.
Gutierrez's writing is much more pornographic than anything the police say they found at Neverland.
Gutierrez, it is rumored, made up a lot of his material after stitching together bits and pieces of speculation from the maid who worked for the Chandlers, the family at the center of the 1993 case against Jacko.
The most interesting witness allowed by Judge Rodney Melville could be June Chandler. She hasn't seen her son in 11 years, and he hasn't spoken to her or his younger sister in that time.
June Chandler's desperation to appear as a her son's defender and champion on the stand is understood. But she received $1.5 million from Jackson in 1994, and defense attorney Thomas Mesereau could make her feel worse than she already does in his cross-examination.