AP
June 10: Police, foreground, watch over a crowd of Michael Jackson fans and critics in front of the Santa Barbara County Courthouse in California.
Jacko's Weekend Holiday | Did Cruise Want Jen? | Brando Speaks

Jacko Takes a Break

As I reported over the weekend, Michael Jackson has decamped from Neverland for a few days while he awaits the jury's decision.

Jackson and his inner circle checked into the posh Santa Ynez Inn on Friday. They remain there today.

Jackson is also said to have made an appearance on Sunday with his mother, Katherine Jackson, at her local church.

This would indicate that, at least for the moment, the singer is re-embracing the values of the Jehovah's Witnesses, even though he's publicly separated himself from the denomination in the past.

But what Jackson mostly did over the weekend was to hide from taking responsibility for the dismissal of his publicist, Raymone K. Bain.

Over the weekend, Jackson was happy to let his younger brother Randy Jackson take the flak for putting Bain's firing on his own Web site.

Randy was happy to accept credit (if that's what you call it) for giving Bain the boot. But insiders say Jackson knew what was going on, and, in his usual cowardly way, let Randy do the dirty work.

This would be consistent with the way Randy and Michael have conducted business for the last year or more.

They fired Michael's longtime publicist Bob Jones in the same manner. The result was a devastating book Jones has written that rips the veil off of Jackson's strange life.

The Jacksons are not noted for loyalty.

I told you last winter that Bill Bray, Michael's surrogate father and his longtime head of security, was languishing in a hospital bed in a tiny apartment, completely incapacitated by strokes, with almost no contact from the singer. (After I published that story, Bray — who can barely speak — received a gift basket from the Jacksons.)

With Bain gone, speculation increases today about who will speak for Jackson and deal with 2,000 members of the press, especially with an imminent jury verdict.

In all seriousness, the name of Taunya Ziklie keeps coming up. She's Randy's girlfriend, described by some as a direct descendant of Reese Witherspoon's ambitious, manipulative Tracy Flick character from the movie "Election."

Did Cruise Want an 'Alias'?

Did Tom Cruise audition "Alias" star Jennifer Garner for Katie Holmes' current role as love of his life?

That's the buzz out here in Hollywood as Cruise's embarrassing and unconvincing public-romance campaign continues to bubble along on all fronts.

The campaign has two "hit" dates: this Friday, when Holmes' "Batman Begins" opens, and next Friday, when Cruise's "War of the Worlds" debuts.

The Garner plan began last summer, I'm told, when Cruise was first talking to "Alias" creator J.J. Abrams about directing "Mission: Impossible 3."

"That's when Cruise had a meeting with Garner," my source says, "just like he eventually had a meeting with Holmes."

The meeting was inconsequential, I'm told, but what followed was memorable: a "bombardment" of phone calls from Cruise, who was determined to make Garner his arm candy and possible "M:I3" co-star.

Only one problem: Garner was in the process of getting back on track with "Daredevil" co-star Ben Affleck in a real way.

"When Jennifer moved into her new home, Tom starting sending her gifts," my source says. "That's when she called him and said, 'It has to stop.' She told him she was with Ben. That's when the Katie plan took hold."

Cruise and the inventors of this odd plan must believe Romance 2005 will work to their benefit.

It has certainly has worked for the folks behind Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie's "Mr. and Mrs. Smith." The movie got lukewarm reviews, as predicted, but still managed to score a $51 million opening weekend. That should do a lot to offset its $130 million budget.

"War of the Worlds," directed by Steven Spielberg, and "Batman Begins," from "Memento" director Christopher Nolan, have similar nuts to crack.

Meantime, the whole Cruise-Holmes fiasco — including Cruise's several public statements that "Katie Digs Scientology" — is reflecting more poorly on one person, and it isn't either of the main players.

People are starting to wonder what the heck has happened to the usually savvy Oprah Winfrey, who hosted the couple's now infamous public display of cynicism on her show.

Brando Speaks From the Grave

I told you on Friday that a phone message left by the late Marlon Brando on Quincy Jones' answering machine has been discovered.

The nine-minute call is not part of the Brando auction at Christie's this week.

But I can tell you the tape surfaced in 1996 when private investigator Paul Barresi was helping another detective, the infamous Anthony Pellicano, find information to help Brando out of a sensitive situation: The corpulent, eccentric actor had made what some considered anti-Semitic remarks on television in April 1996.

The message was offered to Barresi by a Jones source as evidence that Brando was not a racist.

Of course, the fact that Brando addresses Jones with a nickname for the music legend that he spells out twice at the start of the message doesn't help much. He calls him Leroy, "L-E-R-O-Y." I'm sure it was an endearment.

The gist of the message: that Brando had just seen a TV show about racism that upset him and he wanted to express that to Jones. Of course, in Brando's rambling mind, the thoughts came out a little jumbled.

"I saw a program. It disturbed me a lot. It disturbed me a lot. It was about racism on college campuses. And, when you and I are up there on screen, we've got to do something together that's going to show that we've shared something. And, so you've got to be bilingual. We can talk all that street s--- in the scenes, but there has got to be a time when you have to address the (inaudible) tinker bell and brighten. Put a scene in there so that you talk like a citizen ... just so that all those white mother f------ sitting out there, in the audience and looking at that, are not going to be able to say, 'I saw you in a couple of programs and you didn't do any of that hoogi-do at all.' You were talking like one of those white dudes with the suit on ... with a suit talking. And, it was very effective.

"When I go to Tahiti, I act and I talk like Tahitians. When I'm talking to Tahitians, I talk in the way they talk. I do the things they do. I live their life. I am as much as a Tahitian as I can be, without having been born one. My children are Tahitian, so I know how to split the difference. You know how to split the difference because you've been in the black world.

"You know what's it's going to be like when you go in to the white world. And, you walk in to a room ... and, when you're the only black man in that room, you conduct yourself properly. But, you smell it. You feel it. You know it.

"And, so I was close to a lot of things. I had an opportunity being a white kid, from the Midwest. I never saw a black person. I never saw a Jew. I saw a Chinese restaurant one time in Chicago, but that was it.

"And, then when I came from New York, it was all different then. And the whole thing that brought me together with the Dunham kids and sent me up to the Palladium on Wednesday night, Saturday night, to get involved with the mambo contest, was music.

"Because I played conga. And I admired it so much and it brought me so close. And then I got hooked up with Jimmy Baldwin and he was real ... I was so tight with Jimmy for years and years, before he died."

Brando is referring to famed writer James Baldwin, author of "Go Tell It on the Mountain."

"And then of course, all the broads, and all that. So, I learned to speak a lot of different languages, including ... what I mean, languages, I mean I had to learn to feel Japanese culture, Chinese culture, Jamaican culture.

"And then, when I was going over to Africa, I learned a lot about Africa. And, I learned that there's ... there is a thousand different Africas. There isn't one Africa ... a thousand different Africas. And, then I learned what black people were like in Fiji. In Fiji they don't have ... they wouldn't know what the ... they wouldn't recognize a brother if they saw one. They'd just think, well ... you know, he's a ... he's not one of us.

"They would look upon you as a real stranger. You go down to ... I really don't know what I'm talking about, I'm just so ... so ... a lot of feelings.

"If everybody was the same color ... if we had the same f------ name ... if we had the same religion ... if we had the same social system, it wouldn't be two minutes before people who were right-handed would start kicking the s--- out of people who were left-handed ... looking upon them as some dangerous, malignant minority. We're going to get on them. And, I don't know what the heck to do. I really don't. But I know that in the picture, we're not behaving for ourselves.

"We'll have fun doing it, but you and me being together means something to a lot of people. It will mean something to a lot of white people. So, I got to be more black in those moments, when we're close. And, in some chosen, careful moments, you got to be ... you got to be white ... just so, nobody can say, there goes a f------ n- man. See, I want somebody to say that. I want you to out-think some body. I want you to talk ... out-talk somebody.

"I've seen you do it. And it's important for white people to hear that. They don't hear it. And if the picture is going to be as effective as I think it's going to be ... there is many people that's going to see it. They are going to see Quincy Jones being two different people. They are going to see Marlon Brando being two different people.

"First of all, I'm living with ... I'm living in Mexico, with Mexicans ... with a Puerto Rican girlfriend (inaudible) most of my life. And, I want to make it something more. You know without preaching. We're not getting up there ... just make it a part of life. I'm just blowing out air man, because I just saw that program and I'm all filled with ahhh ... a lot of bad feelings (inaudible). Young white kids and some black kids. Stone f------ blood types. You know, pre-Malcolm X.

"You know when Malcolm X was putting them all down as white eyes ... blue-eyed devils and all that s--- ... before he went to Mecca ... before he turned around. Goddamn it ... it really hurt me.

"And ... anyway, let's talk. Give me a ... give me a call when you get in. Later."