Jacko Witness: Just Call Him Angel

Michael Jackson | George Lucas | Warner Music

Jacko Witness: Just Call Him Angel

Before we get to hear testimony on Thursday from Larry King and then on Monday from Jay Leno, watchers of Michael Jackson's child molestation trial must first endure Angel Vivanco, who is not exactly the brightest bulb on the tree.

Yesterday, a mumbling Vivanco, who worked at Neverland and has sometimes traveled with Jackson as a substitute nanny, had trouble remembering the dates of his employment, or specific facts about his association with Jackson's accuser's family.

Of course, the questioning still hasn't gotten to the 20-something Vivanco's "romance" with the then 16-year-old sister of the accuser. Somehow, defense attorney Robert Sanger will have to dance around that issue, unless he wants to set up Vivanco for possible criminal charges.

Vivanco is not a dazzling witness, but yesterday, he did tell one anecdote that got the attention of the crowd.

He said that on two consecutive nights in February 2003, he served champagne to the accuser's mother, Janet Arvizo, and Jackson's former manager, Dieter Wiesner.

"She was flirtatious," Vivanco said, recalling the incredibly odd scenario.

There is certainly no love lost between Arvizo and Wiesner, who were thrown into the Jackson saga together when each stayed at Neverland that month.

Wiesner is an unindicted alleged co-conspirator in the Jackson case. Arvizo testified that he worked with her for 10 straight days so that she could memorize a script for the Jackson rebuttal video.

No one in court seems to believe this, but the idea of the pair toasting each other as they pored over copy has been enough to make eyes roll and heads spin.

And yet, Vivanco's tale may indeed be true — to a point.

When this Jackson catastrophe began in November 2003, one of the first tales that sources close to the story told this column involved Wiesner and Arvizo.

They said that Arvizo first claimed to District Attorney Tom Sneddon that Wiesner had somehow assaulted Arvizo at Neverland. Sneddon, the story went, smartly rejected this complaint.

Wiesner laughed off the accusation when I talked with him months later.

"I've heard she's been saying things," he said. "Of course they're not true. I mean, have you ever seen her?"

Still, the question remains whether much of the enmity that now fuels this wild and peculiar case stemmed from a split of champagne that went wrong.

We'll find out more of the answer today as Vivanco continues his testimony in the Santa Maria courthouse.

'Stars Wars' Maker Likes to Educate

How many times have I written in this column about celebrities whose tax-free charities are complete shams?

So here's a change of pace: As George Lucas prepares for this week's launch of "Star Wars: Episode III — Revenge of the Sith," I wondered what exactly he had done with all the money he's made since 1977.

Besides creating Industrial Light and Magic, a special-effects company, Lucas must have found some other uses for the hundreds of millions he has generated from the five previous "Star Wars" films and all their ancillary products.

Well, it turns out he quietly runs The George Lucas Educational Foundation, a not-for-profit group that disseminates information about public schools and classes to other schools and teachers around the world.

According to public documents, Lucas has put about $2.5 million of his own money into the GLEF every year since 1998, with the exception of 1999.

So far, no one else has contributed to the GLEF except for Procter & Gamble. You gotta love it: The world's biggest maker of soap products kicked in $5,000 in 2003.

Lucas' organization produces a magazine called Edutopia, a busy Web site and supports the making of educational documentaries. Nearly 150 of those films are available through the Web site.

All in all, GLEF sounds like a worthy venture. After all, with so much dough, Lucas could be a cult leader or collector of useless knick-knacks. Instead, he's making a difference.

Now I won't feel so bad forking over 10 bucks this weekend to see how the whole "Star Wars" saga ends.

Warner's Stock Loss: No Hits, All Misses

There's been a lot of talk in the last few days about the dismal IPO launched by Edgar Bronfman's Warner Music Group.

Even with a splashy announcement adding Sean "P. Diddy" Combs to his foundering company and a Wall Street launch with Led Zeppelin's Jimmy Page, Warner couldn't make it happen. It raised just $550 million, about half of what it expected.

Yesterday, the new stock finished the day at $15.73, down from an initial $17 on opening day. Let's not forget that Bronfman and friends had hoped for a $22-to-$24 opening.

Of course, that was before rock group Linkin Park sued to leave the label when it realized that the Bronfman gang was only interested in flipping the company for a huge profit. Linkin Park's complaint was that the execs weren't interested in running a record company.

Well, one look at the charts could have told them that. Warner currently has a paltry six albums in the top 50, with only one — Rob Thomas' solo effort — in the top 10.

The Universal Music Group and Sony-BMG dominate most of the charts. Warner is simply an afterthought.

In the year or more since the Bronfman group came in, they've developed almost no new artists. Highly trumpeted Lyor Cohen, wooed from Island/Def Jam, is still waiting to see a success.

But the good news is that Cohen has over 2 million shares of the new company. One can only wonder when he'll cash out. It's easier than breaking a hit single.