The publicists responsible for rehabilitating Michael Jackson are going to have to acknowledge that part of his legend died in that courthouse.
Any publicist worth their salt should be drooling at the thought of the stunts to be pulled over the next few weeks to kick off Michael Jackson’s rehabilitation.
Surely Saint Sir Bob must have considered asking him to close Live 8? (There is already speculation that he will show up at the concert in Philadelphia). Or what about Harvey Weinstein buying the rights to a movie on the court tensions? I’d certainly watch it, especially set as an R&B version of 12 Angry Men.
There’s only one place for Michael to head now that his Neverland fantasy needs to be folded up and put away… only one city in the world where a star of his magnitude can hope to replenish the coffers and remind a new generation what he’s actually meant to be famous for.
It’s just down the road – “the Jewel in the Desert”, the self-styled “Entertainment Capital of the World” and the fastest-growing city in the USA, Las Vegas. Ah, Vegas, where we watched Michael’s entertaining version of “shopping”, as Martin Bashir trailed around with him in the infamous profile that ignited the outrage which led to the recent fuss.
Las Vegas, 100 years old this year, and the ideal launch pad from which Jackson can blast off his career and retake the world for his own.
They could build an entire £100m hotel complex around the promise that Michael was appearing “twice nightly”.
Celine Dion currently earns $60m for every 200 shows she performs at Caesar’s Palace, and Michael Jackson Live! would surely pull down even more. Not a bad way to emulate his idol Elvis Presley either. I can see the photo opp, Michael posing with Siegfried and Roy’s roaring tigers, complete with Bubbles the Chimp in a three ring circus that would make P.T. Barnum spin in his grave. It was Barnum who declared that “every crowd has a silver lining” and you can bet Jackson is praying for a stadium full to stop the bailiffs taking Neverland from him if they decide he’s financial toast.
Intriguingly, the latest reports suggest Michael Jackson remains very rich indeed, with the Sony/ATV catalogue he owns, containing not only Beatles songs, but work by Elvis, Dylan and Sly & the Family Stone, worth as much as $1 billion, and his current loans and overdraft easily overcome by quite a brief period of no shopping.
Death and taxes being life’s only certainties, we shall see.
Watching the verdicts and the reactions in the aftermath I was struck by how delighted and relieved all the African Americans interviewed were that their greatest icon in showbusiness had emerged triumphant from his confrontation with Middle America. The powers which sought to restrain him and his excessively liberal and unpredictable behaviour remain deeply conservative, simplistically religious, and very much in charge under George W. Bush.
Beyond his fame and previous wealth (which they admired greatly) in their eyes Michael Jackson is a quite extraordinarily UnAmerican figure, riding his mad rollercoaster through convention after convention.
If Las Vegas isn’t the answer, it’s tough to see what he’s going to do in the long run, except embrace middle age and let pop music get on without him. Ageing stars whose original celebrity depended on hiding a reality and sustaining an illusion – whether of their real talent, their sexuality or the ugliness of their journey to the top – always find it difficult to reinvent themselves later as normal folk. This is something the principal Rolling Stones have never had to worry about: they were 100% honest with their public in 1963 and still are today.
Whoever is advising Michael Jackson from now on, whether they put career, business or creativity to the fore, are going to have to acknowledge that part of the legend died in that courthouse, whatever the verdicts.
Exposed to the sneers of a sceptical world and the weeks of terror, the 5 foot 11 inch six-stone weakling who faced the jury on Monday could no longer be mistaken for the same superstar who charmed us by dressing up as a monster and moonwalking through Thriller, or once confused us with a good album called Bad. You only have to look at him. The truth is, however, that many of the fans who remember him from then would rather not