Jacko: Ex-Maid Says Jacko Must Be Stopped
Michael Jackson had better spend this weekend preparing himself for what's coming Monday morning.
He'd better prepare his parents, too, and other loved ones who might accompany him to court.
They're about to hear stories from the early '90s that will put the curl back in Jackson's fluffy, straightened, blown-out hair.
Ready for her appearance is Jackson's former personal maid, Adrian McManus, who worked for him from 1990 to 1994.
In 1995, McManus was one of five former employees who unsuccessfully sued Jackson for wrongful termination and sexual harassment.
Their case hinged on them being able to relate incidents they said they'd witnessed at Neverland of sexual molestation and inappropriate behavior by Jackson.
But when the judge in their case ruled that they couldn't tell those stories — which had already been captured in thousands of pages of depositions — the case fell apart.
Not only did they lose their case, but four of the five were forced into personal bankruptcy.
They sold some of their stories to tabloids for small amounts to pay debts. Some of them went back to living in Jackson's community, disgraced but feeling they knew the truth about him.
So get ready. Sources say that McManus, who comes across as hard-working, pleasant and sincere, has been waiting patiently for a decade to tell what she saw at the ranch. She is a long-time resident of the Santa Maria area, with a family and roots in the local community.
McManus is the only member of her group who didn't file for bankruptcy. But she's hardly bathing in cash from selling her story. Whatever remuneration she picked up in 1995 from tabloids was used for fighting Jackson, who then had a fortune at his disposal.
Since she was fired by Jackson, McManus — who's in her early 40s — has worked on and off for a local discount store. She's on her feet for eight hours every day with a lunch break. She doesn't have the money or time for plastic surgery or madcap shopping jaunts. The Nation of Islam doesn't provide her with security.
According to sources, she's so worried about recriminations from her testimony that she's pulled her college-aged son out of school temporarily to watch her house during the day while she continues to work. She needs to have a paycheck.
Sources say her family is frightened for her. Santa Maria is a small town. They are not looking forward to the bright light of celebrity when she testifies.
But McManus, sources tell me, has been suffering from anxiety attacks and sleeplessness for a long time. She feels that when she finally tells a jury what she saw, a friend says, "she will have peace."
And what did she see? Enough to make Jackson and his family squirm when she testifies, she says.
Among her recollections will be the comings and goings of certain young teenage boys she saw in Jackson's bedroom. For four years, she was the only Neverland employee with a key to that bedroom.
Jackson's security guards at the time were keenly aware of that, too. After the Chandler case broke in 1993, they started harassing her.
She will say, as she did in her deposition, that they chased her with stun guns and made her life miserable. She will name names, times and places.
The Jackson defense hopes that McManus will be rattled under cross-examination, that she will seem either crazy or vengeful or greedy or all three. But I think they are underestimating her.
McManus, unlike Jackson, is a peer of the jurors.
The other day Judge Rodney Melville characterized many of the witnesses so far as "lawyers and comedians."
McManus is neither. Once the jury hears a little about her personal life, her work and her history, they will see that she is one of them. If she weren't involved with the case, she would have been part of the jury pool.
McManus is not the only one of the five people who sued Jackson who will testify in the coming week.
Tentatively scheduled to appear very shortly is former security guard Ralph Chacon. He and two other security guards, Kaseem Abdool and Charli Michaels, also gave lengthy depositions in the 1995 case detailing first-person accounts of Jackson's allegedly inappropriate behavior with 13-year-old boys.
Defense attorneys will be barking objections to keep out Chacon's and Michaels' specifically disturbing recollections; Abdool is so far not scheduled.
The big question, though, is whether the prosecution is up to the presentation of these witnesses.
As in 1995, they will probably be questioned for Jackson by the eminently prepared Robert Sanger. He was the one who took them through the depositions and knows their stories backward and forward. Assistant District Attorney Ron Zonen — the star of the prosecution team — will have his work cut out for him.
In fact, I'm told that so far, these key witnesses have had little preparation. The prosecution has been made so paranoid by Tom Mesereau's standard line of questioning — "Have you had meetings with the district attorney before today? Did you discuss your testimony?" — that they may be neglecting some important elements that would support these witnesses' appearances.
My advice: Get them haircuts and new suits. Call in "Extreme Makeover."
And for heaven's sake, don't permit a rerun of what happened with flight attendant Cynthia Ann Bell. She turned out to be the defense's best witness so far — and she was called to the stand by the prosecution.
Yes, that was Harvey Weinstein lunching at Ago in West Hollywood on Wednesday with ... Michael Eisner!
The pair was having one last toast to their corporate divorce. Talk about modern life!
I don't know if there was a taste-tester involved, but I do know it was big of Weinstein to dine with the man who's taken his name — Miramax — and won't give it back.
Ah well. You could probably have a movie company called 'Harvey' and everyone would know who it was anyway.
Johnnie Cochran liked to spend time in Bermuda. Two years ago, he surprised me when he showed up at the island's annual film festival for a screening of a documentary I co-produced called "Only the Strong Survive." The title certainly applied to Johnnie.
I got to know him during the O.J. Simpson trial and enjoyed his company tremendously. Whether or not you liked the outcome of that trial, the main thing was that Johnnie won it. That's the goal of defense lawyers. His wins were more important than his misses, but he will be missed more than he ever knew.
Finally: Because I've been away all week, I missed the controversy that's developed between the Long Island newspaper Newsday and Liz Smith, my self-appointed mentor (I appointed her) and friend.
I guess at this point — with an embarrassing circulation scandal and all their big-name writers gone — the powers that be don't care.
Let's face it: Liz Smith doesn't need Newsday — they need her.