The Fix

Whitney's back in rehab. Plus: Jury eyes Jackson's porn stash, Macaulay Culkin shrine.

By Salon Staff
Published March 24, 2005 12:12PM (EST)

Turn On:
It's the moment you've been waiting for and dreading at the same time: The American version of the beloved BBC show "The Office" premieres on NBC tonight at 9:30 p.m. EST.

Morning Briefing:
Houston, another problem: Whitney Houston is back in rehab. The singer has admitted to struggling with addictions to prescription drugs, marijuana and cocaine, though she memorably denied smoking crack in a "Primetime" interview with Diane Sawyer in 2002, saying, "I make too much money to smoke crack. Let's get that straight. Crack is whack." Whatever her poison these days, the singer reportedly showed signs that something was amiss, missing her 12-year-old daughter's birthday celebration earlier this month and having been rushed to a Paris hospital last month with what she said was food poisoning. (OK, I suppose it could have been food poisoning.) Her last stint in rehab was just one year ago; in March 2004, she spent five days in a rehabilitation facility in Atlanta. It is not known where she has checked in this time around. (London Telegraph, Gatecrasher)

Jackson trial update: Here's what the jury in the Michael Jackson child molestation won't see: whatever racy things (such as teen-themed porn sites) Jackson may have downloaded onto his computer. The trial judge has ruled such evidence non-admissable because when the material was downloaded has not been determined or whether Jackson was the one who downloaded it. Here's what the jury did see: a parade of images from adult magazines found at Neverland, including not just Playboy, but also Barely Legal, Finally Legal, Just Legal, Over 50 and Plumpers & Big Women. "There were soft-core pictures and more explicit images -- about 75 items in all, displayed by prosecutors on an overhead projector in Santa Barbara County Superior Court. And if jurors were startled at first, they seemed a little numb after a while. One idly examined her fingernails," reports the Washington Post. "But the entire room seemed to sit up straight when a detective disclosed what else they had found in Jackson's private chambers: In the bathroom, a portrait of former child star and Jackson pal Macaulay Culkin. And in a locked closet just off the bathroom, this puzzling tableau, captured in a police photo: A bottle of Jack Daniel's whiskey, a bottle of red wine and a doll of Culkin's 'Home Alone' character, still in its box." Added the paper, "What any of that meant remained unclear." (Washington Post, Reuters)

In other Jackson case news: A key witness for the prosecution, a former personal bodyguard of Michael Jackson's named Chris Carter, has been arrested in Las Vegas on charges of burglary, robbery and first-degree kidnapping with a deadly weapon. Carter, who is expected to testify that he saw Jackson's young accuser drinking alcohol out of a Coke can with Jackson on an airplane, is being held on charges that he carried out the singlehanded heist of a Jack in the Box in which the culprit, who wore a T-shirt with eye-hole cutouts over his head, made off with a whopping $239. You can read the police report here and Carter's deposition here. (ABC News, The Smoking Gun)

Also: Ben Affleck is set to write and, for the first time, direct a movie, "Gone, Baby, Gone," based on a novel of the same name by "Mystic River" scribe Dennis Lehane. (Boston Herald via MTV News) ... Ha Jin has won the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction for the second time, this time for his novel "War Trash," making him one of only three people (the other two are Philip Roth and John Edgar Wideman) ever to have won the award twice. (Washington Post) ... Jerry Springer's radio talk show, which has run on a few Clear Channel stations, has been picked up by Air America and will now run on 45 stations nationwide. (Associated Press) ... The "American Idol" producers responded to the confusion over three mistyped phone numbers during Tuesday night's voting segment by holding a new special election -- or do-over, or rematch, or whatever you'd call it -- on Wednesday night. (N.Y. Times) ... Korn frontman Jonathan Davis and his wife, Deven, have named their newborn baby boy Pirate. (Page Six) ... Tavis Smiley, who left NPR in a huff a few months ago, is back on public radio, this time with a two-hour weekly show on PRI, set to begin in April. (DC Examiner via Fishbowl NY)

-- Amy Reiter

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