Michael Jackson's (search) farewell party on Friday night was a bust.
It will be remembered not for jubilation and forgiveness, but for another first in the Jackson record books: Associated Press legend Linda Deutsch (search), the dean of court reporters, was thrown out by goons from the casino who worked on the say-so of the Jackson family.
The goons, called "police" internally by the Chumash Casino (search), surrounded the five-foot-tall Deutsch as she sat in a chair and quietly watched the proceedings.
She was sporting a wristband that was required for entry into the party, which was actually an under-attended blues concert performed by Michael's brother, Tito Jackson.
Deutsch had obtained the band from a friend, sources tell me, after learning that even her local hairdresser had gained admittance. It wasn't exactly Truman Capote’s Black and White Ball, if you know what I mean.
Suddenly one of the goons started shouting, "Linda Deutsch, you must leave!" With that they moved her up and out of her chair and out of the casino altogether.
This was only a short time after Deutsch had come across Jackson co-defense counsel Robert Sanger, another invitee. According to witnesses, Sanger whined to Deutsch that he was mad she’d written that the only reason he’d gotten his job with Tom Mesereau was because he’d successfully defended Jackson in a civil matter here a decade ago.
Deutsch denied writing that. But really, why does Sanger think he was hired?
Removing Deutsch from the room meant seriously decreasing attendance for Tito’s show, since the casino theatre has a capacity of over 1000 seats. Fewer than 400 people were there, and many began to leave once the music started.
And where is Michael Jackson? In all likelihood he’s either in Switzerland today, or arriving there later. He is gone. Gone from Neverland without so much as a wave to the loyal 100 or so fans who came to Santa Maria from many foreign counties on their dime (or peseta) and remained until the trial ended.
Most of these fans have been waiting outside the Neverland gates for days, hopeful that someone would acknowledge their support and generosity.
But in six days, no one at Neverland has bothered to send as much as a cookie to these people. Last night I spoke to the remaining few who still held out hope of a meeting with or message from their idol. But little by little the crowd is dispersing, and today there should be substantially fewer of them as their money runs out.
Meanwhile, Michael's brother Randy Jackson — who did not attend Friday’s party because he hoped to throw his own in Las Vegas — is expected in New York on Monday. The youngest Jackson will try and see the bankers from Fortress Investments who now control Michael’s $270 million in loans that they bought from Bank of America on April 25.
Despite the ending of the trial, Michael Jackson remains perilously cash-strapped. Look for some kind of news before the end of this week about another staff downsizing at Neverland.