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Michael Jackson, serial dangler; George Michael announces retirement. Plus: Crowe threatened by Kidman?

By Salon Staff
Published February 17, 2005 12:30PM (EST)

Turn On:
Hard to believe it's survived this long, but "Survivor" kicks off its 10th chapter, "Survivor: Palau," Thursday night at 8 p.m. EST on CBS. And "Sex and the City" alum Cynthia Nixon guest stars as a stroke-suffering soccer mom on "ER" (NBC, 10 p.m. EST).

Morning Briefing:
Once a dangler, always a dangler: Michael Jackson has left the hospital and headed home to recover from his flu-like symptons, for which, according to doctors at the Marian Medical Center in Santa Maria, Calif., he will continue to need care. His brief stay at the Center was punctuated by visits from his parents and his brother Jermaine. And toward the end of his stay, he managed to muster the energy to flash a peace sign from his hospital window, prompting the crowd gathered below to roar in approval and a fellow patient, upset by the noise, to yell from his own window, "There are sick people here!" Jackson then held up a hand-written sign that said, confoundingly, "I love more" ... and, in the words of the New York Post, "held up a stuffed teddy bear and dangled it from his window." (ABC News, N.Y. Daily News, Associated Press, N.Y. Post)

Lost faith: George Michael has announced that he plans to retire from pop music. "That genre is just dead as far as I am concerned," Michael told Reuters in an interview after the Berlin Film Festival premiere of a documentary about his life, "George Michael: A Different Story." "I just thought it was very important to explain myself before I disappear. I truly believe that there's a life for me that is not this one." He says the celebrity life "never suited me very well ... [but] now I just find it unbearable." (Reuters)

Crowe flies; so does Kidman: Those of you looking forward to watching Russell Crowe woo Nicole Kidman onscreen at your local cineplex will be sad to learn that the film in which the two were to co-star, "Eucalyptus," has been called off -- sorry, postponed indefinitely -- just days before it was to begin filming in Australia. The official word from Fox Searchlight cites script problems for the abrupt cancellation -- sorry, delay -- but rumors abound of tension between the two lead actors, including one report in Sydney's Daily Telegraph suggesting that Crowe was unhappy with the script because his role was written in such a way that Kidman was guaranteed to upstage him. (The Independent)

President's Day poll: A new national survey commissioned by Washington College in Maryland has found that if George Washington were alive today and running for the presidency, he'd defeat George W. Bush by nearly 20 percentage points. What makes this more surprising is the study's finding that those surveyed knew very little about the nation's founding father -- only 46 percent of the 800 adult Americans surveyed even knew that Washington led the Continental Army to victory during the Revolutionary War. (Washington College)

Also: Czech supermodel Petra Nemcova, who is recovering from injuries she suffered in the tsunami that killed her boyfriend, photographer Simon Atlee, says she may never model again -- unless she does so to raise money for tsunami recovery efforts. (N.Y. Daily News) ... "Apprentice" also-ran Omarosa Manigault-Stallworth has ripped into the producers of the show that made her (sorta) famous, saying "all the black men are perceived as lazy and laid-back and nonaggressive, and all the black women are quite the opposite"; consequently, she says, she's been writing and pitching projects that include positive images of black women. (Associated Press) ... Alan Cumming is launching his own fragrance, Cumming, which he says is "beyond gender." (N.Y. Daily News) ... A day after Arthur Miller's death, his daughter, filmmaker Rebecca Miller, and her husband, Daniel Day-Lewis, reportedly gave her father's young fiancée, painter Agnes Barley, just days to move out of the house Barley shared with the playwright for more than two years. (Rush and Molloy) ... Alanis Morissette has become a U.S. citizen, though she plans to maintain dual citizenship in her native Canada. (Associated Press) ... Bob Newhart is writing his memoir, scheduled for publication by Hyperion in fall 2006. (Associated Press) ... JFK's sister Eunice Kennedy Shriver was spotted with her sister Patricia Kennedy Lawford at the Sotheby's auction of Kennedy memorabilia this week reportedly looking "ticked off" because she had to bid on her own family's heirlooms. (Page Six) ... Jennifer Lopez has cancelled a trip to Europe to promote "Shall We Dance" because, she says, she has the flu, prompting the inevitable rumors that she's pregnant. (Reuters, Asian News International) ... Graydon Carter has denied reports that he called his friends Jeffrey Katzenberg and Brian Grazer "scumbags" behind their backs. (L.A. Weekly via Fishbowl N.Y.)

Money Quote:
Kid Rock upon his release from jail after his arrest for punching out a DJ at a club in Nashville: "Everything is wonderful. It was a beautiful night." (N.Y. Daily News)

-- Amy Reiter

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