Jacko Scandal: Pics of Accuser, Family Run in U.K.
The 13-year-old boy who accused Michael Jackson of child molestation has apparently been under surveillance for several weeks and photographed surreptitiously.
The result: Two days ago, a series of pictures in a London tabloid's Sunday magazine showed the boy, his mother and her boyfriend.
In fact, the pictures — marketed by Los Angeles freelance journalist and photo agent Alec Byrne for upwards of $300,000 — tell a markedly different story than the one told on every media outlet by the family's friend, Jamie Masada.
Instead of a frail child clobbered by cancer and awaiting a kidney transplant, the boy is shown as quite robust. In one picture he's even shown standing with an automatic rifle at his side. In another, he's busy jumping a high fence and also chatting with friends. The pictures are said to have been taken at the Sea Cadets youth group in Los Angeles, where the family was befriended by Major Jay Jackson, an Army Reserves officer who took them in and eventually became involved with the mother.
I told you last week that Jackson (no relation to Michael or his family) let the boy's mother use his address to get her kids into a good school. They wound up moving in with Jackson. But in mid-November, when the Jackson scandal broke, the family and Jay Jackson all moved out. I visited Jackson's apartment last week in the mid-Wilshire area.
But now it turns out that since their move, the family and Jay Jackson have been observed and photographed, unbeknownst to them. Byrne won't say who the photographer was, or how he got the pictures. He will only say, "This was a journalistic effort." He also says the family had no involvement in the pictures.
Byrne did confirm that he has more pictures than the ones sold to the London tabloid, including more of the boy and his siblings. I told you last week that the mother encouraged her children to call Jackson "daddy" after trying to do the same with them concerning Michael Jackson.
Byrne not only has still photographs of the family but, according to him, video footage that has already been screened by at least one tabloid news show. RTL, a private German TV station, has also expressed interest, he said.
Because of American laws regarding children and victims, domestic media outlets would have to block out the faces in order to run the pictures or the videos. European countries don't have the same regulations, making the pictures even more valuable there.
What isn't known yet is how Judge Rodney Melville will greet this latest news in his case. Melville has instituted a fairly strict gag order among the Jackson case principles, extending all the way to Jay Jackson and beyond. He may not be amused to see the London tabloid's spread. We'll have to wait and see.
The buzz is pretty strong and no one will confirm or deny anything, but here's a story out of Grammy week. Prince may be signing with the Warner Music Group.
If it's true, this would be a record industry story for all time. Prince, you see, recorded for the old Warner group from the beginning of his career in 1977 to around 1990, when he declared himself the company's "slave," painted that word on his face, and changed his name to an unpronounceable symbol.
Reborn as The Artist Previously Known as Prince, the diminutive rocker with the Sly Stone licks launched into a decade or more of releasing his own records while decrying the major labels. He did put out the triple-CD "Emancipation" on EMI Records and another album on Arista. But his last hit single was "The Most Beautiful Girl in the World" in 1991.
Prince's appearance at the Grammy awards led some to speculate that he was shopping for a new deal, and one in which he could retain ownership of the master recordings. I'm told that the new Warner Group run by Edgar Bronfman, Jr., and Lyor Cohen would be interested in making such a deal for several reasons: it reunites Prince with his extensive back catalog, for one. And it slaps in the face the old Warner execs, some of whom will get the axe shortly.
Maybe the strangest conversation — or lack thereof — at Clive Davis' big pre-Grammy party last week was the one that took place — or didn't — between Elektra Records chief Sylvia Rhone and nominated rapper Missy Elliott.
Elliott was busy meeting and greeting colleague Mary J. Blige at her table when Rhone, who is technically her boss, tentatively approached. Readers of the New York Post's Page Six know that Elliott has made it clear she wants to leave Elektra and doesn't like Rhone. She wouldn't be the first — Anita Baker bolted years ago.
But the whole story became crystal clear as Rhone tried to get Elliott's attention. "We really should talk," the exec said to the rapper. "I would love to sit down and talk to you."
"Uh-huh," said Missy, not looking up.
"I just think it would be great if we could really talk," Rhone continued. Elliott, still unresponsive. Rhone, starting to blink. Me, wishing I were somewhere else.
Yes, there's talk that the indomitable Rhone — who did make hits for Elliott, Metallica, and others — will leave Warner Music Group when the sale to the Bronfman group is completed at the end of February. She could go, I am told, to Universal Music Group, where Rhone has maintained a close relationship with head honcho Doug Morris. I am told they talk at least once a day. But Morris, I am also told, has been instructed by his French owners at Vivendi to cut, cut, cut excessive salaries and budgets. Or else.