"They don't have any friends," their guardian, Katherine Jackson, told the Daily Mirror this month, in a headline-making aside. "They don't go to school, they have private lessons at home--but that will change in September, when they are due to enroll at private college." Friendless or not, Prince, 13, Paris, 12, and Blanket, 8, have come out from under wraps in every way since their father's passing. They made their uncloaked public debut at the tear-jerking conclusion of Michael's Staples Center memorial service, and went on to attend the Grammys this year. In a development that might alarm their protective dad, they've even posted videos of themselves on YouTube--including Blanket's recreation of a scene from Monsters Inc. The kids are even said to have gone out door-to-door to proselytize for the Jehovah's Witness faith that Katherine is raising them in, just as their father did before he left the sect.
The patriarch of the family continues to be one of American pundits' favorite punching bags, which some would find poetic justice. Although Joe wasn't mentioned in his son's will, he seems determined to inherit some of the public attention. His latest shocking statement seemed to lay some of the blame for Michael's death on Katherine: He said he had asked his wife to visit their son "to keep him cheered up," but she declined for fear of violating Michael's privacy. "I said this would have never happened if you had went and been with him," Joe said he told Katherine. But the senior Jackson has been feeling the heat ever since he went on the red carpet at the 2009 BET Awards and talked about a new record label he was starting...three days after Michael's death. In recent legal news, Joe Jackson's lawyer has filed complaints with the California Medical Board against AEG--creating a rare instance where many fans may side with the big corporation against the little guy.
In testimony to Michael's closeness with his mother, she was the only family member other than his children to immediately benefit from his will, and has become the guardian of his kids. But even Michael's beloved mum has been involved in some controversies. Katherine has aligned herself with Howard Mann, a businessman who TMZ says "promotes online nude gambling." Together, Mann has said, they plan to produce a Jackson biopic and sell 273 unreleased tracks that were discovered when Mann bought a storage unit owned by the Jackson family. They've already collaborated on a coffee-table book, Never Can Say Goodbye: The Katherine Jackson Archives, which is being sold online. Child protective services came to the family manse in Encino after it was reported that Jaafar Jackson--one of three children of Jermaine's who also live at the house--had brandished a stun-gun near one or more of Michael's children. In this week's controversy, Katherine is scheduled to travel to hometown Gary, Indiana, for an event commemorating the anniversary of Michael's death, even though Randy Jackson is publicly rallying for the entire family to gather at Michael's tomb in Glendale, California
The doctor who injected Jackson with Propofol and performed unsuccessful CPR on the singer has faced legal trouble in three states. In California, he's awaiting trail for involuntary manslaughter. Attempts to take away his license to practice medicine in California in the meantime have been unsuccessful, though Murray has said it's irrelevant because he only practices in Texas now. In Nevada, his license may be in trouble due to unpaid child support; in Texas, he has only lost the power to administer sedatives. On a recent US Airways flight, he administered emergency aid to an unconscious woman. Joe Jackson continues to pursue action against Murray, most recently claiming that the doctor was seen drinking at a strip club before Michael's death, although associates claim the doc is a non-drinker. "I know what trouble is," Murray told his Houston church congregation last fall. "I, with my compassion, was only trying to help my fellow man. But it appears I was at the wrong place at the wrong time." Murray was new enough to Jackson's employ at the time of the death that he never did get paid for any of his services.
Janet was shooting the recently released Tyler Perry comedy Why Did I Get Married Too? when her brother died. She made several high-profile TV appearances over the last year, starting with a performance of "Scream" at the MTV Video Awards in September. Later in fall 2009, she opened the American Music Awards, followed by an eight-minute medley on the "American Idol" season finale this spring, which found her praised for her newly slimmed-down form and vigorous dancing, if not her lip-synching. Her struggles with keeping fit will be detailed in a self-help book, True You, scheduled for this fall. Jackson recorded a new ballad for the Married Too soundtrack, "Nothing," but is currently without a recording contract. She also ended her seven-year relationship with producer Jermaine Dupri last year. This month, perhaps signaling sides being taken in family disputes, she tweeted her support for brother Randy's public statements, writing: "It's time the fans know the truth and ur one of the very few I trust n doing so. I got ur back all the way bro."
Jermaine was hailed for his performance of one of Michael's favorite songs, Charlie Chaplin's "Smile," at the Staples Center memorial. Less acclaimed: his role in the reality mini-series "The Jacksons: A Family Dynasty," along with brothers Jackie, Marlon, and Tito. The show ran for six episodes on A&E in December and January and was widely criticized as manipulated and/or exploitive. Though production had originally wrapped before Michael's death, reshoots allowed most of the show to revolve around reaction to the tragedy. (A proposed second season appears to have fizzled out.) Jermaine has been the most interviewed Jackson in the last year, talking with Matt Lauer at Neverland last year and Larry King at the Forest Lawn mausoleum this week.
Randy is the family's most active Twitterer, and he recently used his account to air differences with other members of the clan. On June 15, Randy walked into a hospital in Pasadena complaining of chest pains, but he later tweeted he was fine. On June 23, he took some disputes public, offering a hint at what might have given him agitation. "Let's start with my family," he wrote. "There is a common concern about their lack of support and unity...Right now, my struggle is trying to get my family together on the 5th of June at Forest Lawn...I'm putting myself in the hot seat. I have nothing to lose." He added, I am not in support of the Gary event/trip or whatever it is," referring to Katherine's plan to attend a tribute in the family's Indiana hometown.
Though there was initial speculation that Jackson's second wife might want to take on their children after the death, she never publicly expressed any interest in custody, reaching a settlement with Katherine Jackson in August that allowed only for supervised visitations.
Jackson's dermatologist and "closest friend" has been quite vocal about the star's private life. The admitted former sperm donor played it coy on the issue of whether he was the true biological father of Prince and Paris Jackson--saying only that he was not their dad "to the best of my knowledge." But there was no equivocating this spring when declared that Jackson was gay, backing up the story of a former employee, Jason Pfeiffer, who claimed he and Jackson had a years-long sexual relationship. Among the Jackson loyalists denouncing Klein for this supposed betrayal of trust were Jermaine Jackson (using four-letter words) and Elizabeth Taylor (using Twitter).
"Michael was not ashamed of his sexuality," said Pfeiffer, the former office manager for dermatologist Arnold Klein, alleging in May that he'd had a "passionate and sexual" relationship with Jackson for years. "I believe he was probably my soulmate." Klein affirmed that he'd discovered the two men shirtless and approved of their relationship, saying, "Was he gay? Yes...When you see two people looking at each other, you know what's happening. I was just very happy for both of them."
The golden-age film star and longtime Jackson pal took to her Twitter account to announce after a preview screening of This Is It that the documentary "is the single most brilliant piece of filmmaking I have ever seen." In May, she took to Twitter again, this time to lash out at his chatty dermatologist for alleging that Jackson was gay. "Dr. Arnie Klein declared on May 2 that he did not betray Michael Jackson by saying publicly that he had a homosexual relationship with someone in Arnie's office. It seems he supplies not only women [Debbie Rowe], but men too.....how convenient. Just what we want in our doctors. And then to say he did not betray Michael's confidence. No wonder he has death threats. I thought doctors, like priests, took an oath of confidentiality. May God have mercy on his soul."
Jackson's recently reclusive ex-wife has taken to her MySpace page twice in the past year, both times to write about Jackson. In the first missive, titled "He Knew," Presley said that Michael suspected he would have an early, untimely death. "All of my indifference and detachment that I worked so hard to achieve over the years has just gone into the bowels of hell and right now I am gutted," she penned, adding: "Our relationship was not 'a sham' as is being reported in the press. It was an unusual relationship, yes, where two unusual people who did not live or know a 'normal life' found a connection, perhaps with some suspect timing on his part. Nonetheless, I do believe he loved me as much as he could love anyone and I loved him very much." On May 12, she again took to MySpace to complain about a paucity of flowers around Jackson's tomb and to request that fans bring sunflowers in bulk--which they did. Presley hasn't released a new album since 2005 and is reported to have moved to London with her husband and 2-year-old twins, making news only for being involved in countersuits with a former nanny.
Was Bhatti the "secret son" of Michael Jackson, or just another of his longtime youthful acolytes? A year after the rumor caught fire, answers are no more forthcoming than before. The 20-year-old Norwegian singer/rapper sat with the family at Staples Center for the memorial tribute last July, having been moved up to the front row by Michael's sister, Rebbie Jackson. Joe Jackson gave credence to reports that Omer might be his grandson by declaring, "Yes, I knew [Michael] had another son; yes, I did...He looks like a Jackson, he can dance like a Jackson." Others were more dubious. The Oslo native was last sighted doing a Jackson tribute show on a cruise ship.
The biggest beneficiary of the This Is It movie was the 25-year-old shred-head whose cool blonde locks, cooler stage demeanor, and hot licks established her as an instantly famous foil. The tragic timing for Jackson was beneficial timing for Orianthi, career-wise; she'd been signed to Geffen for years and finally had a debut album, Believe, in the can at the time of Jackson's death. But filmgoers still had no idea what her own musical direction was; it turned out to be...Avril-meets-Slash. Her first single, "According to You," made it to number three on Billboard's Top 40 airplay chart and number 17 on the Hot 100. (The album was then reissued with a newly recorded single, "Shut Up and Kiss Me," which failed to catch on.) Orianthi is currently on the road as the middle act on the Glam Nation Tour, headlined by Adam Lambert and opened by Alison Iraheta (whose "Don't Waste the Pretty" features an Orianthi guitar solo, on record and onstage).
The celebrated choreographer and director of all three High School Musical movies didn't think he was making a film when cameras were set up to record rehearsals for the should-have-been shows in London. The motion picture that resulted from the footage, This Is It, turned out to be an unexpected critical smash--and an expected commercial one, grossing $72 million in the U.S. and more than $250 million worldwide. Ortega went on to direct the Staples Center memorial telecast, which drew 31 million viewers. After being rumored for--but passing on--a Footloose remake, his next theatrical feature will be an adaptation of the Tony-winning Broadway musical In the Heights for 2011 release.
Considerable controversy erupted when the city of Los Angeles ended up footing huge bills in expenses for the Staples Center memorial during a severe budget crisis. This month, entertainment company AEG (which owns the Staples Center) and the Jackson estate agreed to reimburse the city to the tune of $1.3 million.
Jackson and his business partner Schaffel became estranged well before Jackson's death. But, according to columnist Roger Friedman, he came back into the family fold to produce an interview with Katherine Jackson that was sold to NBC and will air on "Dateline" on the anniversary of Michael's passing. Schaffel was also spotted by TMZ this week boarding a plane with Debbie Rowe, of all people. He explained he was on his way to Japan to promote a documentary video he made about his former star client that will show in theaters there.
Jackson never came back to live at Neverland after the 2005 police raid on the property, and there were rumors that the animals at his zoo were neglected before they were finally sold off. His four giraffes--Rambo, Jabbar Jr., Princess, and Annie Sue--have lived on a wildlife preserve in Page, Arizona, since 2006; last fall the local city council demanded a $100,000 bond to insure the animals. Even more endangered were Jackson's tigers, Thriller and Sabu, who live on Tippi Hedren's preserve in California, which was briefly threatened by wildfires last fall. As for Bubbles the chimp, who had to be sold in the '90s after maturing into a wilder animal: LaToya Jackson went to visit the famed chimp at his Florida sanctuary for an Animal Planet special called "Michael Jackson and Bubbles: The Untold Story," but was rebuffed by the no-longer-bubbly beast.
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