The Fix

More Jackson accusers to testify. Catholic leader calls Madonna a "witch."

By Salon Staff
Published March 29, 2005 12:23PM (EST)

Turn On:
William Shatner punks a small town in Iowa in his new reality series on Spike TV, "Invasion Iowa" (9 p.m. EST). Also Tuesday night: PBS' Nova brings you a documentary on the tsumani, "The Wave That Shook the World" (check local listings).

Morning Briefing:
Jackson trial update: Wow. Great news for the prosecution, not so great for the defense, came yesterday when Judge Rodney Melville ruled that the jury could hear prior child-molestation allegations made against Michael Jackson. That's big. That means that at least one 24-year-old man, the son of a former Neverland maid, is expected to testify that, when he was a child, Jackson groped him twice through clothing and, once, shoved his hand down his pants. (Jackson paid the boy and his mother a $2 million legal settlement in 1994.) And while the California boy who famously first leveled abuse charges against Jackson in 1993 and scored a $15 million settlement from the pop star does not wish to testify, his mother may. Other witnesses are expected to testify that they saw Jackson lick the head of a young boy (echoing an allegation made by Jackson's current accuser), encouraged children to call him "Daddy" and touched the genitals of children. What's more, according to the Smoking Gun, the D.A. told the court that he planned to introduce a witness who repeatedly saw Jackson in bed with different children and that in several cases "the child and the defendant's underpants were lying next to the bed." And what of Macaulay Culkin? The actor, who has always insisted that Jackson never laid a hand on him, is not expected to be called to the stand, but evidence may be introduced that Jackson had been "grooming" him for molestation. Phew. (The Smoking Gun, Reuters)

She doesn't have their blessings: Madonna and her husband, Guy Ritchie, are in major hot water with the Catholic leaders for attending a Purim party at London's Kabbalah Center dressed as a nun and the pope ... on Holy Thursday, no less. Bill Donohue, president of the Catholic League, who called Ritchie a "moral slug" for wearing his pope getup when the real pontiff was so ill, was moved to comment, "We Catholics thought we had finally gotten rid of the witch when she discovered Kabbalah. In the event she discovers the Wiccan religion, the Catholic League would be happy to donate a proper [witch] costume to her. And we would be ever so happy to send her husband a broom complete with instructions for what to do with it." (N.Y. Post, Rush and Molloy)

Tales of celeb strong-arming: 1) Jennifer Lopez's publicist and record label reportedly flexed their muscles and got Billboard magazine to back away from running a full-page ad paid for by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals condemning Lopez for using fur in her clothing line. (Lloyd Grove's Lowdown) ... 2) Lindsay Lohan's rep, Leslie Sloane, managed to get "The Insider" to kill a segment on the actress' childhood set to include photos and video provided by Lohan's estranged paternal grandmother by offering instead an exclusive interview with Lohan herself. Sloane shrugged at her influence, saying, "Maybe they decided not to run the story because it wasn't so nice." Yes, that must have been it. (Rush and Molloy)

Also: All three of Sarah Jessica Parker's "Sex and the City" costars -- as well as Mr. Big himself, Chris Noth -- showed up at the whopping 40th birthday party Matthew Broderick threw for Parker at the Plaza on Friday night. (Rush and Molloy) ... The winners of this year's Oscar documentary short, "Mighty Times: The Children's March," are being criticized for including reenactments in their film without labeling them. (N.Y. Times) ... Serena and Venus Williams have announced that they will star in a reality TV show, showcasing their lives off of the tennis court, set to premiere on ABC Family in July. (Associated Press) ... The Broadway-bound revival, "Sweet Charity," which was to star Christina Applegate once she recovered from the broken foot she got while trying out the show in Chicago, will close before ever reaching the Great White Way due to extremely sluggish ticket sales. (E! Online) ... Smell like Celine? Celine Dion has launched her new fragrance, Belong, which, she says, "is about celebrating life." (Washington Post) ... Richard Pryor's 35-year-old daughter, Rain Pryor, has put together a one-woman show about her unorthodox upbringing, "Fried Chicken and Latkes," which she's staging this week in Philadelphia. (Philadelphia Inquirer)

-- Amy Reiter

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