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Intriguing details in the Jackson, Blake and Peterson cases. Plus: Was Jane Fonda forced into three-way sex?

By Salon Staff
March 17, 2005 6:57PM (UTC)
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Turn On:
Thursday night, "The Apprentice" (NBC, 9 p.m. EST) offers no new firings, but rather a "clip-show episode" reviewing the highlights of this season. (Yawn.) So you might want to watch Edward R. Murrow's 1960 documentary on migrant workers, "Harvest of Shame" (Discovery Times, 9 p.m. EST), instead.

Morning Briefing:
The Robert Blake case: The big picture: The actor was acquitted of the murder of his wife, Bonny Lee Bakley, yesterday after the long-deliberating jury deemed the evidence against him circumstantial and the testimony of two key witnesses for the prosecution -- stuntmen who said Blake solicited them to kill his wife -- unreliable. (Los Angeles Times) The intriguing detail: When asked by a reporter outside the courtroom who he thought really killed his wife, Blake barked "Shut up!" (N.Y. Daily News)

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The Scott Peterson case: The big picture: The judge upheld the jury's recommendation that the California fertilizer salesman be sentenced to death for the murder of his wife, Laci, and unborn son, Conner -- after members of Laci's family stood before the courtroom and brutally ripped into Peterson in countless ways. Laci's mother said Peterson deserved "to burn in hell for all eternity!" Peterson's family was not allowed to address the court, though they did voice their displeasure with the proceedings a few times before they were silenced by the judge. (N.Y. Daily News) The intriguing detail: Outside the courtroom after the sentencing, the jurors announced that they planned to write a book about the murder and trial. (N.Y. Post)

The Michael Jackson case: The big picture: The release of Jay Leno's interview with cops in which he told them he felt that Jackson's young accuser and his family appeared to be looking for a mark when they contacted him a few years ago -- and which contradicts the young man's claim that he never spoke to Leno, but only left a message on his answering machine -- looks like a boost for the defense, though Leno also said that he though Jackson may well be "guilty" of molestation. "A while back, the mother called, [saying], 'Oh my son, he's 12 years old. Oh, he loves you,' " Leno said in a transcript obtained by ABC News, adding that he quickly became suspicious. "I'm not that much of an egomaniac. I don't know why a 12-year-old boy would be infatuated with a 55-year-old guy who does political jokes and things. And I said, 'Well, what can I do for you?' Or, well, I can't remember the exact [inaudible] of the phone call. But essentially [they were] sort of looking for money." Added the comedian, "It all sounded very rehearsed to me. I don't know if he's reading from a script, but it just sounded coached." Leno is expected to testify in the trial. (ABC News via N.Y. Post, N.Y. Daily News) The intriguing detail: During yesterday's proceedings, a police officer who was testifying against Jackson about evidence seized at Neverland (including a treasure trove of porn) had trouble reading some fine print on the evidence envelopes -- and Jackson lent him his eyeglasses. (N.Y. Post, Washington Post)

Fonda leaks? Yesterday, the London Daily Mail published what it said were excerpts from Jane Fonda's memoir, due out next month, in which she reveals that her late husband Roger Vadim forced her into having "cruel and misogynistic" three-way sex with prostitutes. "It seems shocking that I did that, but I managed to convince myself that it was fine, that I wanted to, even though it was killing my heart," the tabloid reported Fonda wrote. The paper also reported that Fonda blamed Vadim for her eating disorder, writing, "I ceased eating except for crusts from his bread and rinds from his camembert." But Fonda's rep says the paper's report contains "huge inaccuracies," adding, "The information did not come from the book." (Page Six, Rush and Molloy)

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Also: CNN has renewed its contract with Larry King, an agreement that will keep him at the news network through 2009 and net King close to $7 million a year. (Variety) ... Tom Cruise has been ranked the third greatest movie star of all time, just behind Cary Grant and Marilyn Monroe and just ahead of John Wayne and Ingrid Bergman, on Premiere magazine's list of "50 Greatest Movie Stars." (Premiere magazine) ... Hugh Jackman has been tapped to host the Tony Awards again this year. They'll be presented on June 5. (Reuters) ... Walter Cronkite's wife, Betsy, died at their Manhattan apartment Tuesday night of complications from cancer. (Associated Press) ... Leonard Nimoy is publishing another book of nude photos, this one focusing on members of a heavyweight burlesque group, "The Fat Bottom Revue," who he says are "interested in fat liberation." (Page Six) ... It looks like NBC is renewing "The West Wing" for at least one more season. (Reuters)

Money Quote:
Brittany Murphy, denying rumors that she's hooked on cocaine: "I have never tried it in my entire life. I've never even seen it. ... I am also way too high-strung. I can't even take a Sudafed. Can you imagine? My God. I think my heart would explode." (Jane magazine via Rush and Molloy)

-- Amy Reiter

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