Michael Jackson's shady past of being too close to small boys may be catching up with him. Jackson's longtime public relations man, Bob Jones, whom Jackson fired several weeks ago, is now said to be shopping a book to New York publishers through an agent.
I told you about Jones when he was unceremoniously pink-slipped by Michael's brother, Randy. Jones did not have a confidentiality agreement with Jackson and feels so slighted, hurt and ripped off, according to friends, that he is ready to sell his story to the highest bidder.
And what a story it will be. Jones worked for the Jackson family when he was with Motown in the early 70s, then went to work for Michael a decade later. To say he knows everything we'd want to know is an understatement. He was there for all the key moments, including the Pepsi commercial fire and the 1994 payoff of $23 million to the first major accuser, and he's on a first-name basis with Bubbles the Chimp (now said to be in retirement).
But news of Jones' book comes as NBC's "Dateline" claims it has evidence that Jackson paid off a former employee and her son to the tune of $2 million in 1990. That would be his former maid, who was long rumored to have taken money from Jackson in exchange for her silence. Whatever happened to this woman is definitely something Jones could address.
Jones would also be able to corroborate many of the stories in a scandalous book that was published abroad several years ago, by Victor Gutierrez, but banned in the United States. In the book, several boys are named as having slept in Jackson's bed or been swept into inappropriate relationships with the singer. Most of those boys are now between the ages of 23 and 26, and are starting to talk about their early teen experiences with Jackson.
Many of the names of the boys who spent time with Jackson from 1988 to 1993 have been reported before. Among them, of course, are child actors Macaulay Culkin and Emmanuel Lewis, TV's Webster. Then there's 'N Sync choreographer Wade Robson, who won a talent contest to meet the pop star when he was a child. There's also a young man who now lives in Australia and a 23-year-old who now lives in Hamburg, Germany.
I reported in this column some months ago that Jackson dedicated the song "Speechless" on his last album to the German man and his family. When I spoke to the young man's father, who's in the music business in Germany, he refused to comment about Jackson's guilt or innocence in the current case, and also declined to defend him as a friend.
One of Jackson's earliest young friends was Jimmy Safechuck, a child actor who appeared with him in a commercial in the late '80s. Safechuck now plays in a California rock band. Contemporary pictures of him on the Internet show that at least physically, Safechuck resembles Jackson's 1993 accuser. His father, Wayne, refused to take calls yesterday, only saying "I have no comment."
Wayne Safechuck is described by a Jackson insider as a sanitation worker at the time Jimmy played at Neverland. Nevertheless, he and his extended family have been busy in Simi Valley, Calif., buying and selling real estate over the last 12 years.
The inexplicably famous Paris Hilton did help design her jewelry. Jani Baker, the PR director from Amazon.com, really wants us to know that. She wrote me such a nice e-mail that I thought I'd pass that on to you.
Alas, Paris did not write her forthcoming book. The truly talented Merle Ginsberg, W Magazine's ex-Hollywood writer (whom they sorely need to woo back), is the author of "Confessions of An Heiress: A Tongue-in-Chic Peek Behind the Pose," which we will all get to see next Tuesday. (For those who've seen Paris' online video, the 'tongue in cheek' reference seems precise and yet, still wanting.)
Then there's news of Paris' single. Yes, she's made a record! It's called "Screwed," and sounds like watered-down Euro disco. Paris doesn't really sing, she electronically warbles or something.
Anyway, it turns out that she 'stole' this valuable song from teen pop personality Haylie Duff, sister of Hilary Duff. Lawyers came in, nails were bared and Paris got to keep the "song."
The amazing part of this is that so much effort is being employed by intelligent people to try and create Paris Hilton as something more than a promiscuous, air-headed twit,when there is no "there" there, and there never will be. Her 20-year-old sister, Nicky, is now married to a 33-year-old guy. Neither one of them has an education of any kind. But they are somehow supposed to be role models.
So now, forget Paris Hilton. A really great singer-songwriter, Julia Fordham, praised by every magazine writer and critic, a favorite of India.Arie and director David Lynch and one of Sting's personal favorites has a new album called "That's Life." She'll be in New York next Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday -- at Joe's Pub the first two nights and The Cutting Room on the third. Young, beautiful, smart and talented. That should do it, no? Don't miss her.
Finally: Would it be so hard for the folks at the New York Times' Web site to give Joyce Wadler's Boldface Names column its own link? You have to be a regular Mark Fuhrman to figure out where her delectable little morsels of snark are every day.
Enough sleuthing! I'd say put it right under the other most fascinating column of the day --Corrections.