It's no shock that Thursday's big admission in the Michael Jackson case concerned a shakedown. Major Jay Jackson, stepfather now to Jackson's 14-year-old accuser, conceded in court that he asked Jackson's staff for a lot of things as compensation for the family's participation in a "rebuttal" video.
I've been telling you for months that Jay Jackson and the accuser's mother wanted everything they could get from the King of Pop and his associates. There are receipts, too, lots of them, that can be brought into evidence showing how much shopping the mother did on Michael Jackson's dime.
But Major Jackson is wrong about one thing: He suggested that his wife and stepkids were held "for months" at Michael's Neverland ranch in 2003. In fact, the family stayed there on and off between Feb. 7 and March 11 of that year.
On March 11, the mother was awarded an increase in her weekly alimony from family court from her ex-husband. She and her children returned to Major Jackson's apartment (the couple were not married yet at that time). After that, their connection to Neverland was almost completely severed.
At this point it would look like the case against Michael Jackson is falling apart. But if it goes to trial, look for more evidence to surface regarding the accuser's family and their refusal to give up a juicy Neverland lifestyle supported by Michael Jackson.
Will Santa Barbara District Attorney Tom Sneddon make it through this week of hearings in the Michael Jackson case?
My sources tell me he may have to step down from prosecuting Jackson. Sneddon has already been grilled over whether or not he understood before last November's Neverland raid that private eye Bradley Miller worked not for Jackson, but for his then-attorney Mark Geragos.
My sources say he did know — and seized materials from Miller's Los Angeles office anyway. Judge Rodney Melville may conclude that those materials are privileged and cannot be part of Sneddon's case.
But now I am told that Miller has another twist for the prosecution.
For some eight or nine years, ending in 2003, Miller — like practically everyone else in L.A. — saw a psychologist on a regular basis to discuss his personal and business problems.
It turns out that the shrink in question is Stan J. Katz, the same psychologist who filed the report on Jackson's 12-year-old accuser in May 2003 — and the same one who in 1993 also filed the report on Jacko's first accuser, the boy who got an estimated $23 million settlement.
Miller has told friends that Katz knew he worked for Geragos, and even asked if he could be introduced to Winona Ryder, another Geragos client. Miller declined. But Miller almost certainly discussed the Jackson case with Katz under the tenets of doctor-patient privilege.
When Katz was revealed as the current accuser's therapist, Miller was said to have been shocked.
"He told Katz, 'I can't believe you're the therapist involved,'" says a source.
This revelation could be construed as a conflict of interest for Katz and may open the door to questions about his involvement in the Jackson case.
Katz, working in both boys' cases for attorney Larry Feldman, is the only psychologist who has ever reported a direct case of suspected child abuse regarding Michael Jackson to authorities.
Also expected today or tomorrow: possible testimony from Michael Manning, divorce attorney for the accusing boy's mother.
I am told that Manning is said to have documentation of meetings with the mother from April and May 2003 in which she stated that her family's relationship with Michael Jackson was excellent, with no hint of a conspiracy to keep her and her family sequestered, and no sign of child molestation.
I am very sad to report the death of famed movie score composer Elmer Bernstein. He was 82 and one of the loveliest people ever to do business in Hollywood.
One of his most recent soundtracks was for "Far From Heaven," for which he received a much-deserved Oscar nomination. He also contributed music to "Gangs of New York" and to countless other films including "To Kill a Mockingbird," "Birdman of Alcatraz" and of course "The Sweet Smell of Success."
Bernstein was a student of Aaron Copland and brought with him to his work an incredible mix of jazz and modern classical music. He was also a true gentleman, which is something to say considering that he survived the '50s blacklist. He will be sorely, sorely missed.