Michael Jackson's mother, Katherine, faithfully accompanies her son to court day in and day out.
She takes notes and tries to pay attention — but she is all alone in her pew.
You'd think a woman with so many children and grandchildren could get someone else from the family to come to her son's trial for alleged child molestation — even if it's just out of respect. Even her erstwhile husband, Joseph, has vanished without notation.
But siblings Janet, LaToya, Jermaine, Rebbie, Randy, Tito and Marlon are nowhere to be found. And that's odd, since Michael's charity has always started at home.
He owns his parents' home in Encino, Calif., and regularly dispenses cash to them when he has it. But so far only his mother, who is a lovely, refined and elegant woman, manages to show public support for her son.
This has raised some questions in court, such as: Who are Jackson's friends, and where are they?
Jackson may have a weird history, but he has also done a lot of charitable work. It seems odd that his daily supporters are strangers — his fans from all over the world.
Jackson's personal attorney, Brian Oxman, is also missing. He disappeared about a week ago without any explanation.
Of course, Oxman was regularly seen snoozing in court. Maybe defense attorney Tom Mesereau finally asked him to stop showing up. The really weird thing is that nobody has even questioned his absence.
In the meantime, more of Jackson's harshest critics are jumping on a theme I started over the weekend.
I published a column in this space urging Santa Barbara County District Attorney Tom Sneddon to stop this trial before it gets worse.
His main witness, Janet Arvizo, has been severely damaged in front of the jury. Court observers now regularly discuss her mental competency. Her appearances generate so much comic reaction among press people in the so-called "overflow room" that it's like a screening of "The Rocky Horror Picture Show."
I'm getting some interesting echoes of agreement.
Rikki Kleiman, who appears on E!'s Jackson trial re-enactment, said, "I had an enormous change of heart last night. ... I went in and read [yesterday's court] transcript and ... went 'Oh, my goodness.' We have to really consider the possibility that he is completely, utterly innocent of this crime by virtue of reading the transcript of this mother."
Kleiman is not only a respected attorney, but she's also married to Los Angeles Police Chief Bill Bratton.
Court TV's Diane Dimond, long on the Jackson trail, wrote a similar piece in Sunday's New York Post, calling Arvizo a "gasbag."
"She is tortuous in her explanations and arrogant enough to think she can out-think the likes of Jackson's defense attorney Tom Mesereau. Right now, the mother is the state's worst nightmare," she wrote.
Nothing has changed since I wrote my column on Saturday.
Janet Arvizo's mother, the accusing boy's grandmother, testified in court yesterday with the help of two interpreters — she herself only speaks Spanish. Her testimony proves that the apple doesn't fall far from the tree.
I am on a much-deserved mental-health leave from Judge Rodney Melville's courtroom for a few days, but my observers tell me that she was as contentious as her daughter, picking fights and talking back to the judge.
Another witness, from Arvizo's son's school, backfired for the prosecution when he testified that the boy has always been a problem. Chalk up yet another prosecution witness who turned out to be manna from heaven for the defense.
From all accounts so far, the accuser sounds like he's had a discipline problem for a long time. But I'd guess that is a result of living with a mother like Janet Arvizo.
I'm sure I'll get a lot of flak for this, but to these old ears, Coldplay's new single sounds too much like their previous hits.
"Speed of Sound" relies on the same piano chord progressions as the group's well-known and beloved "Clocks." Not there's anything wrong with that. Plenty of groups can play a "medley of their hits," as it were.
But frontman Chris Martin is never going to be the songwriting equal of XTC's Andy Partridge or Squeeze's Chris Difford and Glenn Tilbrook. Maybe the rest of Coldplay's new album, "X&Y," will be better when it's released on June 6.
Mariah Carey's "The Emancipation of Mimi" wound up selling a little over 400,000 copies this week — quite a bit more than anticipated. This is a big triumph for Island/DefJam's L.A. Reid and her manager Benny Medina. But the basic credit has to go to Mariah.
She's the target of a lot of jokes, but she did manage to stage a major comeback. Ex-husband Tommy Mottola must be grinding his teeth at night. His reborn Casablanca Records has yet to yield a hit.
I'm still enjoying Jane Fonda's memoir, "My Life So Far." It's nice that she draws on Howard Teichmann's excellent biography of her father and her brother Peter's book, too.
I loved the story of Greta Garbo telling her she should be an actress. Also, this book is a must-read for anyone with issues about body image.
Lots of films screening this weekend at the Tribeca Film Festival. "Piccadilly Jim," directed by John McKay and written by Julian Fellowes, was particularly interesting. The film, which is based on a story by P.G. Wodehouse, stars a panoply of terrific actors: Sam Rockwell, Tom Wilkinson, Brenda Blethyn, Frances O'Connor, Allison Janney and Austin Pendleton.
Finally, my pal Cynthia Swartz, the Oscar guru and publicist extraordinaire, has left Miramax after a stellar career there. I know she's pondering some great offers, but anyone in the movie business would be lucky to reel her in.
The "end" of Miramax brings with it the closing of a chapter in movie history. From Marcy Granata to Cynthia to Amanda Lundberg, and many others, that was the hottest shop in modern cinema history.