The Fix

Tapes that prove Jackson is straight? Fire in Ozzyland. Britney lashes out.

By Salon Staff
Published March 31, 2005 12:25PM (EST)

Turn On:
Thursday night, HBO airs the documentary "Left of the Dial" (8 p.m. EST), about the launch of Air America Radio, and PBS brings you a semi-staged version of Stephen Sondheim's "Passion" (check local listings), starring Michael Cerveris and Audra McDonald.

Morning Briefing:
Jackson trial update: A few more highlights from Xtra Jet flight attendant Cynthia Ann Bell's two days of testimony: She recalled Michael Jackson's young accuser boasting about a "very expensive" watch Jackson gave him and saying "Look at what Michael got me ... He'll buy me anything." She did not recall, however, any instance in which Jackson licked the boy's head or cuddled him, though she did remember the pop star putting his arm around the boy while listening to music. In other testimony, psychologist Stan Katz, a prosecution witness, told the jury that it was "extremely unusual for a child (over the age of five) to make allegations saying he has been in a private relationship with a male." Meanwhile, comedy club owner Jamie Masada and comedian George Lopez have testified that the accuser's father may have been a greedy grifter, but that his mother was a modest, pious woman. Now, the boy's father has engaged an attorney to tell his version of the story. And that is? That the mother is the greedy one, natch, and all that apparent conning the father was doing was at her bidding. What's more, says the father's lawyer, H. Russell Halpern, during the accuser's struggle with cancer, "[The father] slept in a chair at his son's bedside," while the mother was pretty much MIA. "When [the mother] came to the hospital," he added, "she engaged her husband in shouting matches." The trial breaks for a state holiday on Thursday. (Fox News, USA Today, Agence France-Press)

Oh, and another thing about Jackson: Publicity agent David Hans Schmidt says he has audiotapes, made by the family of a 9-year-old Utah boy whom Michael Jackson befriended in 1985, on which the star discusses his battle with anorexia, his dislike for his hair and how badly he wanted to sleep with a woman, something he had apparently not yet done, though he was already past 30. Jackson reportedly used to call the young fellow for late-night bull sessions. Schmidt says he will make the tapes of the phone calls public. "There is some dynamite stuff on them," says Schmidt. "I believe they will demonstrate that Jackson is, or at least was, heterosexual." (This Is London)

Kansas Coulter war: Ann Coulter caused quite a stir at Kansas University when she gave a speech on Tuesday night. Though Coulter received several standing ovations during her chat, which 1,800 had gathered to hear, she also was frequently interrupted by a flurry of hecklers. The latter prompted her to sniff, "I think there are some people in the audience who meant to be at the sexual reorientation class down the hall," and then to invite "10 of the largest College Republicans" to "start walking up and down the aisles and start removing anyone shouting." After she threatened to end the lecture if nothing was done, college security escorted six people out of the auditorium. (The Lawrence Journal-World) ... Meanwhile ... at Earlham College, a Quaker school in Indiana, Weekly Standard editor William Kristol was hit in the face with a pie by a protester during a speech he was giving on U.S. foreign policy on Tuesday night. (Associated Press)

Fire in Osbourneland: Ozzy and Sharon Osbourne have apparently avoided injury after a fire broke out in the living room of their U.K. mansion when heat from a fireplace ignited some wood paneling. The Osbournes were apparently in bed when the fire occurred and, roused by an alarm, ran to safety. Two employees were treated for smoke inhalation. It's the latest in a string of dramatic events for the Osbourne family. "I am beginning to wonder when this bad luck's ever going to stop," Sharon Osbourne told the U.K. Sun. (Reuters)

Totally over the tabs: Britney Spears is lashing out at magazines she feels have wronged her -- and she's naming names. "Dear False Tabloids," she writes in a "Stream of Consciousness" posting on her Web site. "As you read this letter, I bet you are asking yourself: Who? Who, me? Am I a false tabloid? Well, I don't know. But after this posting, I hope you are asking yourself a lot of questions. Your employees are a reflection of your magazine. Do you, Us Weekly, In Touch, Star and other desperate magazines want employees who are honest, or those who are liars? It seems to me that you'd prefer the latter. I'm really concerned about the people you hire to work at your companies. I'd like them to ask themselves the question, 'What am I lying to myself about?' Is it that you are 50 pounds overweight? Is it that your children aren't making wise decisions? Or is it maybe that your husband or boyfriend is cheating on you? Until you face what is going on in your life, I guess you'll remain a false tabloid." Then, just to rub it in to all those other tabs, she adds a P.S.: "People Magazine is great in my book!" (BritneySpears. com)

Also: Never mind those perjury and conspiracy convictions: Despite the fact that Lil' Kim faces up to 20 years in the slammer, her forthcoming VH1 reality show, "Lil' Kim's Hollyhood Makeover," in which she helps regular gals get a glamorous new look, is still a go. (Lloyd Grove's Lowdown) ... Joan Kennedy, the ex-wife of Sen. Edward Kennedy who has long battled alcoholism, is in the hospital after an "anonymous pedestrian" found her passed out on a Boston street at 3 a.m. with a concussion and a broken shoulder. (N.Y. Daily News) ... Presidential niece Lauren Bush, 20, is dating Ralph Lauren's 34-year-old son, David Lauren, which, Page Six points out, could lead to marriage and a name change to Lauren Lauren. (Page Six) ... Nicole Kidman, who's apparently been dating Liz Hurley's baby daddy, Steve Bing, introduced him to her parents and sister in Australia last week. (Page Six) ... Death Row Records founder Suge Knight has been ordered to pay $107 million in damages to a woman who invested in his company at the outset only to be unceremoniously pushed out later on. (Reuters) ... 50 Cent's "The Massacre" has now sold more than 2.6 million copies, keeping it on top of the music charts for a solid month. Meanwhile, Jennifer Lopez's "Rebirth" has dropped out of the top 10 in its fourth week of release. ( ... Robert Blake and the family of his slain wife are reportedly trying to reach a settlement in order to avoid a wrongful death civil trial. (Reuters) ... Scholastic Inc. has announced that "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince" will have a first printing in the U.S. of 10.8 million copies, the largest initial print run for a hardcover book in this country. (Associated Press) ... Condé Nast top dog S.I. Newhouse was spotted in the company cafeteria grabbing a "fistful of edamame" from the salad bar "with his bare hands." (Gawker)

Money Quote:
Paris Hilton, upon watching a young woman at an L.A. concert pee in a sink to avoid a long restroom line: "You dirty bitch! ... That's hot!" (Page Six)

-- Amy Reiter

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