When F. Scott Fitzgerald profoundly claimed that there were no second acts in American lives, he hadn't encountered the information era.
As it turns out, almost everyone now has a second act, and many people have third, fourth and fifth ones, too!
That certainly can be said of Michael Jackson. On trial just a few months ago for child molestation and conspiracy, the acquitted singer was already then well into the drama that constitutes his life.
The next act picks up in London, where Jackson is ensconced at the very expensive Dorchester Hotel. He's there on the dime of Abdulla bin Hamad Al Khalifa, a Bahraini prince, who's picking up the tab for everything.
Jackson and the prince are not alone, however. They are joined right now by attorney Thomas Mesereau Jr., who so brilliantly defended Jackson in his trial.
Also there are fired-then-reinstated publicist Raymone Bain, as well as Jackson's three children and their nanny, Grace Rwamba.
But even more interesting are two more people new to the crowd: Atlanta music-business attorney Joel Katz and Island/DefJam Records chairman Antonio "L.A." Reid.
Their project is simple. My sources say that Katz has come to represent the Prince in a deal that would fund a record label for Jackson at Island/DefJam's parent, Universal Music Group.
Katz is not new to the Jackson picture. I'm told he represented Jackson's brother Jermaine for many years in the mid-'80s. He's listed on the credits for the 1984 Victory tour as Jermaine's legal eagle.
Coincidentally — that is, if you believe in coincidences — Katz represents Reid as well. (Jackson probably does not know this. Maybe someone at the Dorchester can show him this column.)
It was Katz who negotiated Reid's deal that made the latter head of Arista Records in 2000. He later got Reid out of that deal and made the current one at Universal.
What Jermaine will get at the end of the day is uncertain. For years, Michael's elder brother has floundered, after a promising series of hits in the mid-'80s.
In his memoir of life with Michael, Jackson's former PR guy Bob Jones claims that Michael purposely sabotaged Jermaine's career.
If the project comes together, and it should, the first order of business would be to record that charity single Jackson has been promising since Hurricane Katrina.
Even though Stevie Wonder turned him down, Jackson has been campaigning among various other stars for weeks.
Katz, whose Rolodex is filled with star R&B and hip-hop clients, would be a tremendous asset in lassoing contributors. First up would be James Brown, the man whose dance steps Jackson copied at an early age.
Next to be tapped, I'm told, might be Jay-Z and Beyoncé, thanks to the Universal connection. Jay-Z, believe it or not, is now president and chief executive of Def Jam. Beyoncé is his girlfriend. And so on.
Universal is the No. 1 music company right now, boasting everyone from Eminem and 50 Cent to Bon Jovi, Kanye West and Mariah Carey.
Under the right circumstances, UMG could cajole any of its stars to appear on Jackson's single or even on a comeback album.
I can't even imagine what it's like over at US Weekly, Star magazine, OK!, the National Enquirer or their equivalent TV show, "The Insider."
They must be freaking out. All of their favorite people are making headlines at once.
To wit, or witless: Katie Holmes is pregnant with Tom Cruise's baby. They aren't married.
Aside from their embarrassing media campaign last spring, here are the obvious facts: Tom's been married twice before, and has no biological children. His first wife, Mimi Rogers, left him and had children with someone else. Tom and Nicole Kidman adopted two children.
Hence, the Cruise-Holmes baby is a miracle for all time. Hope springs eternal!
Jessica Simpson and Nick Lachey: US Weekly says they're getting a divorce. Their rep, Brad Cafarelli, insists they've never been happier. The working theory here is that "where there's smoke, there's fire." We'll see.
Jessica's talent-deprived sister Ashlee appears again this weekend on "Saturday Night Live." I am told that Jessica is planning a surprise appearance with her.
Kate Moss: Caught on videotape doing cocaine. Her career is careening downward with many of her clients canceling contracts. She was always too thin, and there were always rumors.
Now we have it on tape. It would be the equivalent of a videotape of a certain singer in a compromising position with an underage male. The Moss story will not go away.
Demi and Ashton: They are now married. Bruce Willis must be relieved. The older woman-younger man thing is getting old, but the tabs can keep it going. Any movie Kutcher makes will be scrutinized for word that he's been unfaithful. The story has legs like an octopus. After all, Ashton is only 27.
Lindsay Lohan: I love her, but really ... Robertson Boulevard in Beverly Hills is straight and narrow. You cannot go fast on it. Approaching traffic near The Ivy restaurant does not whiz by. Mercedes are tough cars. It's pretty hard to beat them up. Something is wrong here. Whatever it is, it's time to get it fixed.
Nipsey Russell: He's dead, but I doubt the tabs care about him or about other recent deaths, such as those of literary critic Benjamin deMott, Beatles book publisher Brian Roylance, novelist Mary Lee Settle, New York Times sportswriter Sam Goldaper or the brilliant playwright August Wilson.
People of substance, who made a difference, are rarely of much interest at the tabs or on tabloid TV. But you can read about them on the Internet, and see what it takes to make life worth living.
Mike Gibbins, the great drummer for the great early-'70s group Badfinger, died on Tuesday. He was 56.
Gibbins was predeceased years ago by Badfinger's chief songwriters, Pete Ham and Tom Evans. Only Joey Molland survives them.
Badfinger was the first act signed to the Beatles' Apple Records. They immediately had a hit in 1970 with a Paul McCartney song, "Come and Get It." Another hit single, "No Matter What," is a classic pop triumph.
But it was their 1972 album, "Straight Up," produced by Todd Rundgren and George Harrison, with the latter playing guitar on some tracks, that cemented their position in pop history. It's one of my "desert island" discs.
Long before CDs, when "Straight Up" was out of print, I came across an abandoned box of the LPs in Boston at a flea market. It was like finding the Holy Grail. I gave them to everyone I knew.
Gibbins' drumming propels Badfinger, especially on their back-to-back gems "Day After Day" and "Baby Blue," both from "Straight Up." The group isn't in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, but connoisseurs know the real story.
Mike, I remember finding out about you. Rest in peace.