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Michael Jackson Evicted; ‘Thriller’ Flops

Jacko Evicted; 'Thriller' Flops | Oscar Buzzings | Binn There, Done That

Jacko Evicted; 'Thriller' Flops

So many people ask me, "What’s wrong with Michael Jackson? How did he get into this terrible situation?" His beloved home, the 2,900-acre Neverland Ranch, is about to be auctioned off in public, with all his possessions in it, on March 19 outside the Santa Barbara County Courthouse.

And, no, this is one foreclosure the federal government is not going to bail out.

Not only that: after a big debut week for the 25th anniversary edition of "Thriller" with 166,000 copies sold. But in its second week, the updated "Thriller" dropped 65 percent and sold just 55,000 copies, according to hitsdailydouble.com.

The bigger question is: What happened to all those Michael Jackson fans? Where are the legions of devoted fanatics who write to me, who consider themselves Jackson’s best friends? Where are they?

The fact is, if Jackson can’t sell more than 200,000 copies of a special edition "Thriller" in two weeks, he’s not going to be selling so many concert tickets after all.

And that may be an essential part of the equation as Jackson’s lawyer, Peter Lopez, makes a last-ditch attempt to refinance the $24.5 million loan needed to keep Neverland. Jackson is already leveraged to the hilt. He has assets on paper, but he doesn’t work. He doesn’t tour, and he’s not releasing records. Why would anyone in this economy lend him any more money?

One of Jackson’s biggest problems is that he won’t return to remunerative work. I told you two weeks ago that he recently was offered a great gig: 10 shows minimum, 30 max, at $1 million apiece to perform the "Thriller" album at London’s Millennium Dome. It was a solid offer from AEG Live. But he wouldn’t do it.

He also wouldn’t appear at the Grammys. He also refused to pitch in on "Thriller" publicity — most of it was done by producer Quincy Jones. It seems no one has ever told Jackson the old adage that 99 percent of life is just about showing up.

Working isn’t always fun, but it can be done. Say what you will about Michael’s sister, Janet, but she keeps going, making money. She’s made three albums in four years, tours constantly and knows how to play the game. Unlike Michael, Janet understands that she’s not entitled to anything. She goes out and gets what she wants and needs. Maybe Michael should take a lesson from his little sister.

Still a little unclear is what’s left in the Neverland main house. Now that the foreclosure is in place, Jackson may not have access to a lot of his possessions. If the property is auctioned "as is," the new owner may find himself with a treasure trove of highly collectible artifacts.

Oscar Buzzings

Daniel Day-Lewis went through his last Oscar campaign, for "Gangs of New York," grimly. But on Sunday night he was all smiles, clearly relieved.

"You were right," he told me, clutching his Oscar. DDL often listened during the last three months as I reassured him that his "There Will Be Blood" performance was likely to bring an Oscar. Of course, I also thought Philip Seymour Hoffman would be nominated for "The Savages." ...

Helen Mirren, so spectacular in her red embroidered gown, came solo to the show. Where was husband, Taylor Hackford? "Making a movie. Someone has to work around here!" she quipped. …

One of the silver linings in the Oscar clouds: Because of "Juno," the Kinks song "A Well Respected Man" was played everywhere Sunday night. It was on the show and later at the Governors Ball. It’s time for a Kinks revival. Maybe "Juno" will spur it on. …

After the first break in the show, "Diving Bell" director Julian Schnabel emerged from the theater and rumbled down the ramp toward the bar and bathrooms with "There Will Be Blood" co-star Paul Dano in tow. They were in deep confab. …

One studio exec made several trips to the men’s room throughout the night. He stayed away from his seat in the auditorium and hung out for a while in the small bar near the stage entrance. At one point he was literally swinging from the large plasma TV and cackling at Jon Stewart’s jokes by himself. ...

Michael Bay, the most successful, not respected director since Joel Schumacher, told me he’s getting "Transformers 2" ready. It’s a cinch of a blockbuster. …

Cameron Diaz made a quick trip out of the audience, with manager and friend Rick Yorn doing bodyguard double-time to get her back to her seat. …

Why did Amy Adams have no set, no production at all to back her up on her song from "Enchanted"? That she rose to and above the occasion only shows what a superstar she is.

Frances McDormand was overheard telling a friend that Oscar-winning husband, Joel Coen, "is not a guy who cries." Coen gave a beautiful speech when he and bro, Ethan, won Best Director. Later, McDormand — who won the 1996 Best Actress Oscar for the brothers’ best film ever, "Fargo" — was the happiest I have ever seen her in public, all grins. Nice, nice, nice. …

Tilda Swinton’s road to the Oscars is really nuts. Her resume is full of the strangest films ever made, but her 1992 starring role in Virginia Woolf’s "Orlando" put her in enough good stead to last an astonishing 16 years.

Swinton is kind of an amazing, articulate woman. She told me she’s going to spend this summer reading some more Woolf. She only recently read Michael Cunningham’s "The Hours," about Woolf. I say all this without pointing out the obvious: that we actually had this conversation! Hello! ...

"Valley of Elah" director Paul Haggis and wife, Deborah Rennard, (she played JR Ewing’s secretary, Sly, on "Dallas") sat patiently through the ceremony to support Tommy Lee Jones. Haggis is working on a film called "The Ranger’s Apprentice" based on a children’s book by Australian writer John Flanagan. …

Michael Barker and Tom Bernard of Sony Pictures Classics won their second Best Foreign Film award in a row with "The Counterfeiters." Last year, it was "The Lives of Others." They now have nine foreign film Oscars, if I’m not mistaken (if I am, sorry, can’t count that high!) …

At the Grill Tuesday: John Lithgow … at Mr. Chow: Jeffrey Katzenberg. … George Clooney had some kind of soiree after the Oscars for the "Michael Clayton" gang. ... Nominees who literally disappeared after the show: Marion Cotillard, Viggo Mortensen. Wonderful Tom Wilkinson at least stopped by the Governors Ball before heading home. …

Binn There, Done That

And then there was Kate Beckinsale. She’s on the cover of this month’s "Los Angeles Confidential" magazine. On Friday, publisher Jason Binn threw a little lunch for her at Asia de Cuba, with 150 guests. He announced the recent purchase of mags in Philly and Chicago, making him the undisputed king of lifestyle periodicals in just about every city. All he’s missing is Altoona.

Seriously, Binn is the hardest-working man in show business. God bless him. Beckinsale looked pretty amazed by the whole pageantry of his presentation at that lunch, too. By the way, she’s gorgeous. Her new movie, "Snow Angels," opens shortly.