The Fix

Jackson case to wrap? Demi fails to thwart pregnancy rumors. Plus: Chelsea meets Monica.

By Salon Staff
Published March 21, 2005 2:52PM (EST)

Turn On:
On Monday night, one dysfunctional family enters the reality TV scene and another one leaves it. ABC Family introduces "Las Vegas Garden of Love" (10 p.m. EST), about a young teen chronicling life in his cousin's Vegas wedding chapel. And MTV bids adieu to "The Osbournes" (10:30 p.m.) after three bleeping seasons.

Morning Briefing:
Jackson outlook: What do you have to look forward to this week in the Michael Jackson trial? Depends on what the judge decides. The prosecution says it may wrap its case as early as this week, when it will call a few more investigators who picked through Neverland in search of evidence as well as Stan Katz, a psychologist who discussed the allegations with the accuser and his brother. (Ho-hum.) But if the judge rules that the prosecution can introduce witnesses to testify about alleged past molestations by Jackson, the trial could stretch on a bit longer -- and get a little more lively. According to Court TV reporter Diane Dimond, if the judge does allow past allegations to be introduced at the trial, the prosecution may call five former Neverland employees who were prepared to testify in the 1993 child molestation case that Jackson settled out of court. The five brought their own case against Jackson in 1994, claiming that they were mistreated by Jackson and his loyalists after they agreed to cooperate with authorities in that earlier case, though they lost their suit. Stay tuned ... (Associated Press, N.Y. Post)

A pregnant cover of a different kind? If Demi Moore is trying to kill off those rumors about her being pregnant with Ashton Kutcher's child, she's not doing a very handy job of it. Asked over the weekend about the rampant speculation, she replied, "The rumors are just that: rumors," which, as the Boston Herald points out, is something less than a denial. (Boston Herald)

Dabblers departing: The writers of two major broadsheet gossip columns have announced plans to ditch their beats in the coming months. The New York Times' Boldface Names scribe Joyce Wadler is leaving the meta-gossip column in a few weeks to focus on profile writing for the Home section. She'll be replaced by Campbell Robertson. "It was a health issue," Wadler told the N.Y. Daily News. "If I had to see the name Star Jones or Star Jones Reynolds one more time, it was going to kill me." And the Washington Post's Reliable Source writer for a little more than a year, Richard Leiby, plans to leave his column as soon as a replacement can be found. "I want to return to long-form and substantive stories," he said. And if gossips aren't skipping out for one reason, they're skipping out for another. Pat O'Brien, host of the TV gossip show "The Insider," has announced that he's taking some time off to deal with his "problem with alcohol": " I have decided to take action by checking myself into an intensive recovery program," O'Brien told the press, adding that he hopes to return to work as soon as possible. (N.Y. Daily News, Washingtonian magazine, Associated Press)

Dishy sighting of the week ... And it's only Monday. This from the New York Post's Page Six: "Chelsea Clinton walking into the Cowgirl Hall of Fame on Hudson Street, only to find Monica Lewinsky chowing down with a pal at a nearby table." How very awkward. (Page Six)

Good motives: The father of the man who alerted police to his friend's plot to kidnap David Letterman's toddler son says the man dropped the dime on his pal because he wanted to protect the child. "He did the right thing and that's all he can do," informant Robert Gondeiro's dad told the press. "He loves kids and he didn't want anything like that to happen to anybody -- not just Letterman." He was also worried that, having been told about the planned kidnap plot in advance, he'd be culpable should it actually go down. (N.Y. Daily News)

Also: Lindsay Lohan's publicist, Leslie Sloane, who also reps Jennifer Lopez, Britney Spears, Ashton Kutcher and Renée Zellweger, says she will no longer send her clients to parties thrown by infamous fellow flack Lizzie Grubman after Grubman was shown planting a nasty item about Lohan in the gossip columns in the first episode of her new reality show, "PoweR Girls." (Rush and Molloy) ... Steven Seagal is being sued by his former lawyer, Martin Perschetz, for failure to pay them $711,531 for services rendered in connection with Seagal's legal scrap with his former business partner, Julius Nasso. (N.Y. Post) ... "The Ring Two" was No. 1 at the box office this weekend, taking in $36 million in ticket sales and besting the animated flick "Robots," which dropped to No. 2. (N.Y. Post) ... A juror in the Robert Blake trial, Roberto Emerick, has put out a rock CD with songs about the murder case and is using his moment in the sun to promote it. Since he can't sell it until 90 days after the end of the case, he's offered it up for free download. (N.Y. Post) ... Playgirl magazine editor Michele Zipp, who recently caused a stir by publicly outing herself as a Republican, has just been fired from her post. (Gawker) ... The Village People have reportedly turned down a request from a filmmaker interested in using their rousing anthems "YMCA" and "Fire Island" in a new documentary called "Gay Sex in the '70s" because, according to their rep, they wanted to be thought of as more "mainstream" than gay. (Page Six) ... Jerry Hall and San Francisco Chronicle editor Phil Bronstein (the former Mr. Sharon Stone) were seen "sitting very close together" and appearing "to be a couple" at South by Southwest in Austin, Texas, over the weekend. (Page Six) ... Jamie Foxx has won this year's NAACP image award for outstanding actor. (Associated Press) ... The former manager of "American Idol" winner Ruben Studdard is suing him for $500,000 in damages for alleged non-payment of management fees and expense reimbursements. (Associated Press) ... As many as a dozen Imax theaters and science museums -- mostly in the South -- are declining to show the Imax films "Cosmic Voyage," "Galápagos" and "Volcanoes of the Deep Sea" because they allude to evolution and might offend religious patrons who prefer the Bible's version of creation. (N.Y. Times)

-- Amy Reiter

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