Attack of the 50 Foot Michael Jackson Replica

Five feet, nine inches of Jacko seems to be more than enough for most of us.

But now, Michael Jackson has been reviewing plans for a 50-foot robotic replica of himself should he launch a show in Las Vegas, the New York Daily News reported.

"It would be in the desert sands," Mike Luckman of Luckman Van Pier, consultants to large entertainment companies, told the paper. "Laser beams would shoot out of it so it would be the first thing people flying would see. Neon is wonderful, but it's old school."

Luckman's partner, Andre Van Pier, who designed the futuristic spacesuits worn recently by Bono and U2 at a benefit concert in New Orleans, designed the robot.

He has also sketched out a stage set of a giant audience-interactive video game with human cyborgs controlled by the audience.

"Michael's looked at the sketches and likes them," Luckman told the Daily News.

Jackson, who reportedly has bought a house in the casino capital, has met with tourism officials and hotel owners there about a long-term show, much like Celine Dion has done 20 weeks a year for the past four years at the Colosseum, which was built for her at Caesars Palace.

Hole Lot of Trouble

HOLTSVILLE, N.Y. (AP) — Some Long Island eighth graders apparently got an early start on April Fool's Day pranks on Friday, when they handed out doughnuts laced with laxatives to classmates, school officials said.

There were no apparent injuries, although ambulances were dispatched to the Sequoya Middle School as a precaution, a spokeswoman for the Sachem School District said.

"Approximately 18 students ate the doughnuts," the district said in a statement. "Although the students are feeling well, the school is taking precautionary measures."

Police were investigating and parents were been informed about the situation. Classes proceeded as usual, but parents were given the option to pick up their children.

The district said it would take "appropriate disciplinary action."

Unfriendly Skies

HONOLULU (AP) — A 16-year-old girl who caught a cold during a school trip to New York was kicked off her flight home because she was coughing.

Rachel Collier was removed from the Continental Airlines plane as it was about to leave Newark, N.J., for Honolulu earlier this week. She had fallen asleep after boarding the plane with about three dozen classmates and woke up coughing and gasping for breath as it was about to take off.

"Everyone was looking at me," she said. "I couldn't talk because I lost my voice coughing so much. I was panicking."

The flight attendants gave her water, and a doctor on the flight said she would be OK to make the 10-hour flight. But the captain returned the aircraft to the gate to drop off the girl and one of her teachers.

Rachel said she started crying when the captain told her to leave. She and the teacher finally made it home the next day.

Teacher Maile Kawamura, a chaperone for the spring break trip to New York and Washington, D.C., said she was shocked. The two didn't know what to do or where to stay, she said. They finally found accommodations in New York and bought clothes and toiletries.

Continental said in a statement that Collier was coughing "uncontrollably" on the plane Tuesday and that "the captain felt he was acting in the best interest of the passenger and other passengers on the flight."

Rachel's mother, Stephanie Collier, said Continental has agreed to reimburse her daughter's expenses incurred during the extra day, including the cost of the hotel.

"I felt it was really extreme for a coughing fit," she said. "We've all had coughing fits."

No Such Thing as a Free Dinner

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. (AP) — A scofflaw who came to be known as the gin and tonic bandit went to the same restaurant each Wednesday, ordered two drinks and a rib-eye steak, then skipped out on his $25.96 bill.

His dining, drinking and dashing days may be over.

Police arrested the man on preliminary charges of theft and resisting law enforcement. He was being held early Friday at the Monroe County Jail on $2,000 bond, authorities said.

Each Wednesday night for four weeks running, the same man came into the same O'Charley's restaurant and ordered the two drinks and the steak, restaurant manager Teresa Tolbert told police.

At the end of each meal, the wait staff would present him with his bill for $25.96, and he would excuse himself to use the restroom, then skip out without paying.

The man appeared a fifth time Wednesday night, but the restaurant was ready for him, police said.

When his server presented the bill, he again claimed he needed to use the bathroom. But when he walked out of the restaurant, four employees were waiting for him. They confronted him about the unpaid bill, which he offered to pay with a check, police said.

After Tolbert told him the restaurant didn't accept checks, the man "got nervous and ran," according to the police report.

Officer Randy Gehlhausen caught up with the man as he was trying to open his car door. The diner struggled with Gehlhausen, who wrestled him to the ground and handcuffed him.

Ring and the Runs

CANTON, Ohio (AP) — After four suspects in a jewelry store robbery were arrested, police surmised one of the men may have swallowed a missing two-carat diamond ring worth $30,000.

The theory proved correct, police said, when the ring was found Wednesday in the toilet inside Dandre Turk's jail cell.

"We did suspect him of swallowing the ring," said Maj. Dave Zink of the Jackson Township Police Department. "We were going to X-ray. Instead, we alerted both jails that whenever he had a movement to scrutinize it."

Stark County sanitary workers were called to the county jail and sucked the ring out of the toilet.

How could authorities be sure the diamond ring, in an 18-karat white gold setting, was taken from the jewelry store in the robbery Tuesday? It still had a price tag, according to the county sheriff's office.

The sheriff's office photographed the ring and tagged it as evidence to be turned over to the township police department.

"It's pretty difficult for them to say they weren't involved," Zink said of the suspects.

Turk, 20, Juantai Phillips, 22, Reggie Jackson, 20, and Ricco Almon, 18, all of Detroit, were charged Wednesday in the robbery at a mall near Canton, the sheriff's office said. The men were arrested near a freeway interchange about 30 minutes after the store reported the robbery.

Got a good "Out There" story in your hometown? We would like to know about it. Send an e-mail with a Web link (we need to authenticate these things) to