Jackson trial update, one last time: On Monday, the jurors reached what really seems like the only decision they could have reached after watching the prosecution build its shoddy case on the testimony of seemingly unreliable accusers -- and watching the defense pick-pick-pick away at those same accusers. And one juror put the not-guilty verdict -- on all counts -- in perspective, saying that Jackson is "just not guilty of the crimes he's been charged with That's not to say he's an innocent man." Several jurors said the decision came down to the way the accuser's mother conducted herself on the stand. "I disliked it intensely when she snapped her fingers at us," said one female juror. District Attorney Tom Sneddon, who sat with his head in his hands as the verdict was read, told the press, "We don't select victims of crimes and we don't select the family. We try to make a conscientious decision and go forward I'm not going to look back and apologize for anything that we've done." As for Jackson, he went home and went to bed, which, by the way, he says he won't share with children anymore. (Associated Press, N.Y. Daily News, N.Y. Post)
Katie's new best friend: Not only has Katie Holmes confirmed that she's converting from Catholicism to Scientology. ("Yes, I am, and I'm really excited about it," she told reporters at a London press conference for "Batman Begins" on Monday. She really "digs" the religion, Cruise told Entertainment Weekly.) It appears that she's found not only a connection to her new mate in the religion, but also a new best friend: Jessica Rodriguez, a brunet twentysomething who has been the actress' constant companion as she tours to promote the new "Batman" film. "Tom pays Jessica to 'Keep Katie on the path,'" one insider tattled to the New York Daily News. "She goes everywhere with Katie -- she's never more than a quarter-step behind her. When you ask her who she is, she says, 'I'm Katie's best friend.' She's known her for six weeks!" And a source close to Holmes says of the actress' conversion, "She was such a sweet girl and now she's just gone." (Lloyd Grove's Lowdown, E! Online, Entertainment Weekly, Page Six)
Destiny's Child members follow destiny, separately: Destiny's Child have announced that they will break up after their summer tour ends on Sept. 10. "We have been working together as Destiny's Child since we were 9, and touring since we were 14," the members of the band said in a joint statement. "After a lot of discussion and some deep soul-searching, we realized that our current tour has given us the opportunity to leave Destiny's Child on a high note." (Reuters)
The further tales of teabagging Ben: And you know that suspicious-sounding story Kevin Smith recently told about Ben Affleck teabagging the back of his neck? Christina Applegate, who worked with Affleck in "Surviving Christmas," has lent credence to it with a similar story, telling Hollywood Life magazine, "They were doing an insert shot of a briefcase ... and Ben just decided to put his 'stuff' on the briefcase. He would always do things like that: mooning, sticking his tongue in the director's ear ..." (Hollywood Life via Page Six)
Also: Passengers on the Norwegian Dawn luxury cruise liner that ran headlong into a storm in April are suing Norwegian Cruise Lines for $100 million, alleging that the company put them in harm's way in order to rush back so the ship could be featured in a promotional spot on "The Apprentice." (N.Y. Daily News) ... O.J. Simpson has lately been seen out on the town in Miami with two young women, one of whom is being described as a "dead ringer for [his murdered wife] Nicole." (Rush & Molloy) ... The Supreme Court has refused to hear an appeal of a copyright case brought against the Beastie Boys by jazz artist James W. Newton, who claims the group failed to pay him adequately for the use of a sample from one of his musical compositions in its 1992 song "Pass the Mic." (Associated Press) ... Alicia Silverstone married her longtime boyfriend, musician Christopher Jarecki, in a ceremony before 135 friends and family members on the shore of Lake Tahoe, Calif., on Saturday. Neither the bride nor the groom wore shoes as they exchanged vows. (E! Online)
No. 1 on David Letterman's top 10 list of "Things Overheard During the Michael Jackson Verdict" last night: "Another case of a white guy getting preferential treatment." ("The Late Show With David Letterman" via N.Y. Post)
Tuesday night brings the season premiere of Comedy Central's "Reno 911!" (10 p.m. EDT) and the premiere of a new Court TV reality series, "The Takedown," following the exploits of a former con man and his posse as they try to worm their way through security holes in various businesses.
-- Amy Reiter