Published September 25, 2006
Is Michael Jackson facing even more criminal prosecution in California?
I told you on Friday that recently unsealed papers in Jackson’s ongoing custody battle with former wife Debbie Rowe over their two children have proven to be incredibly revelatory.
In one set of papers, titled "Opposition to Motion to Compel Michael Jackson’s Deposition," Jackson’s attorney Thomas Hall makes a curious statement to the court about why Jackson should not have to return to the United States.
"Even though he is absolutely innocent of any such charges," Hall writes on page 4, "Michael may be subject to arrest, prosecution or an investigatory detention if he was to return to the United States."
Later, on page 7, Hall reiterates Jackson’s legal vulnerability: "[Returning to the United States] might expose Michael to criminal detention and investigation."
This certainly comes as a surprise to Jackson followers who believed that his acquittal in the 2005 child molestation and conspiracy case made him a free man.
But Jackson’s departure from his Neverland ranch in early July 2005 has always been something of a mystery. After his June 13 acquittal, fans camped out at Neverland hoping for a victory celebration. None happened, and Jackson never bothered even to thank his loyalists.
What happened next was odd, too, as Jackson sought refuge temporarily with billionaire Ron Burkle at his Southern California estate. But then he left the U.S. entirely, for Bahrain, a non-Hague Convention country — meaning that extradition laws with the U.S. aren’t covered.
Currently, Jackson is said to be renting Luggala Castle in County Wicklow, Southern Ireland, with his three kids and their nanny for a grand total of $40,000 a month. Jackson went to Ireland after severing ties with Prince Abdullah of Bahrain several months ago.
This weekend, Jackson’s publicist, Raymone Bain, issued a statement confirming what this column told you months ago: Jackson’s deal for a record company with the prince is over.
This news came as a shock to insiders who knew the deal. "Basically, the prince has been supporting Michael. He’s spent at least $2 [million] to $3 million on him in the last year. But Michael never came through with anything."
Jackson, says an insider, has done to the prince what he’s done to most of his previous backers and supporters. A notorious ingrate, Jackson likely felt empowered to leave the prince high and dry once his $300 million loan with Fortress Investments was refinanced, and Jackson got about $12 million to $15 million in monthly installments.
Split from the prince, Jackson now faces the task of finding someone at a regular record label to distribute whatever he records.
The press release from Bain says that he’s working with producer Teddy Riley, the man who made "New Jack" swing a big deal in the '80s with acts like Keith Sweat. This isn’t exactly great news for an artist who needs a contemporary makeover.
Meantime, the judge in the custody dispute must have agreed with Hall’s assertion that Jackson’s return to the U.S. could hurt him. Jackson was subsequently deposed over a two-day period in Paris early last summer in the custody matter. Sources say his answers were as bland and forgetful as the ones he’s given in other depositions this year and last, with the former pop star pleading amnesia or simply making up answers that could be disproved later.
Oscar-winning director Roman Polanski rarely acts anymore, but he’s agreed to appear in Brett Ratner’s "Rush Hour 3." On Friday, a wave of speculation poured over the Internet about this as a possibility, but I can confirm it for you.
Polanski’s most famous acting job was in his own movie "Chinatown" some 32 years ago (he’s the guy who slits open Jack Nicholson ’s nose).
In "Rush Hour 3," Polanski will play a French cop who gives stars Jackie Chan and Chris Tucker a tough time.
Ratner has scored a coup in getting Polanski as well as actors Max von Sydow and Yvan Attal .
"I met him when I did the first 'Rush Hour,'" Ratner said of Polanski. "My favorite movie is 'The Tenant,' which he starred in. Since we’re shooting in Paris, it made sense."
Of course, Polanski won’t be able to do any publicity for this role when "Rush Hour 3" is released next year, because he's a fugitive from justice in America. Back in 1977, Polanski pleaded guilty to having unlawful sex with a 13-year-old girl in Malibu, Calif. While out on bail, he fled to Europe rather than face a prison sentence. He's never returned.
When his acclaimed movie "The Pianist" opened four years ago, his victim, now a grown woman, attempted to absolve Polanski of any crime.
Samantha Geimer wrote an op-ed piece in the Los Angeles Times and did interviews with at least two syndicated TV shows. She e-mailed this column several times as well.
Even though the Web site thesmokinggun.com published the findings of the 1977 grand jury that handled the case, the publicist for Focus Films blamed this column for uncovering Geimer.
No matter: Polanski won the Oscar for Best Director for "The Pianist." And this year, Focus Films’ Oscar entry is "Hollywoodland," starring Ben Affleck.
Meanwhile, Ratner’s sideline of photography and video has been used for Bono’s Red campaign for Motorola. He’s shot ads for MotoRed, a Motorola cell phone from which sales will benefit AIDS research and support in Africa.
Among Ratner’s subjects: Edward Norton, Quincy Jones, Salma Hayek, Steve Coogan, Tucker, Chris Rock, Chris Kattan and Courtney Love. You can check it out at www.joinred.com ...
Talk about a star-studded night: On Oct. 6, Bill Clinton will join Kerry Kennedy, daughter of Robert , in an effort to raise money for global human rights.
"Speak Truth to Power" is described as a "multi-faceted project presenting inspiring stories of women and men from nearly 40 countries on five continents who stand up to oppression at great risk."
But all you really need to know is that actor/director Terry Kinney will be putting on a show with the following stars: Matthew Modine, Lorraine Bracco, Robin Wright Penn, Gloria Reuben, Martin Sheen, Christian Slater, Sharon Stone, Sigourney Weaver, Peter Boyle and Giancarlo Esposito. Call 866-376-2569 for reservations. Tickets are tax deductible and proceeds go to the Robert Kennedy Memorial Fund …
Circle Oct. 30 on your calendar for the Nordoff-Robbins Music Therapy Foundation dinner called "For the Kids." Celebrity chefs from hot New York restaurants will be cooking up a storm, including those from Le Bernardin, Craft, WD-50, Chanterelle, The Four Seasons, Picholine, Dos Caminos and our pal Drew Nieporent, who’ll be representing all his restaurants from Nobu to Tribeca Grill to Montrachet.
NBC’s Bob Wright and his wife, Suzanne, are co-chairing, and the great Sunny Ralfini is putting it all together. Call her at 212-475-0584 for reservations …
And do catch "Soul Man" Sam Moore tonight on Conan O'Brien and tomorrow on "Imus in the Morning" performing songs from his "Overnight Sensational" album. Last week, Moore received a Lifetime Achievement Award in Britain at the MOBO Awards.
Legendary rocker Steve Winwood, who appears on "Overnight Sensational," presented it to him. The MOBO’s were broadcast on the BBC twice …