The return of the prodigal Jackson: As California labor officials were busy ordering his Neverland Ranch to shut down, Michael Jackson returned to U.S. soil. After nine months of jet-setting and frightening women in Persian Gulf bathrooms, Jackson is back to attempt to deal, belatedly, with his finances: Employees at Neverland in Santa Barbara, Calif., have gone without pay for two and a half months, and Thursday state officials served a stop-work order that bars Jackson from using "any employee labor" until he secures workers' compensation insurance, which he has long gone without. Jackson has also been fined $69,000 ($1,000 per employee) for going without the insurance; this is on top of the $100,000 he has already been fined for not paying his workers. Add in the outstanding wages he owes, $306,000, and the King of Pop is suddenly $475,000 in the hole. That's money that, as Fox 411 points out, Jackson simply doesn't have: "For weeks I've told you in this space that Jackson was heading for a colossal financial disaster. Well, it's here, and so is he. Jackson's arrival in Encino signals a total break with Prince Abdullah of Bahrain who was underwriting the singer's extravagant lifestyle since last year. At the same time, Jackson faces imminent foreclosure on $270 million of loans guaranteed by his 50 percent ownership in Sony/ATV Music Publishing, a.k.a the Beatles catalog." (Fox 411, the Smoking Gun)
Adieu to Paris? The ever socially aware Paris Hilton has already managed to get herself banned from Graydon Carter's annual Vanity Fair Oscars party. Now, she probably won't be on next year's guest list for Elton John's yearly Academy Awards bash, either. Tickets to the party, which go for $2,500 apiece, benefit AIDS research. "When it was suggested to her that she donate the money, Paris just said, 'Don't you know who I am?' and waltzed right in," a spy told Page Six. "Isn't she supposed to be wealthy? Everyone else paid. She won't be asked back." Far more worrying for Hilton, though, is the brewing tabloid backlash against her media saturation. The editors at Us Weekly have allegedly opted to stop running items on her. "She even got into a huge fight with Stavros [Niarchos] at their Oscar party, and they didn't put it in the magazine," Page Six heard from a source. "It's all for show and to get press anyway. And she doesn't sell. They will run pictures of her, but that's about it." (Page Six)
Blame George? Page Six also has a bizarre back-story theory on Teri Hatcher's recent revelations of being abused as a child. In the Vanity Fair article that broke Hatcher's story about being molested by her uncle as a child, Leslie Bennetts writes that Hatcher was spurred to tell her story after a recent love mishap with an unnamed mystery man: "The debacle with Mystery Man ... made the parallels between her romantic failures and the legacy of her sexual abuse seem too obvious to ignore." A source tells Page Six that man was George Clooney, who "dated Hatcher briefly beginning in January, when we first reported they'd gotten cozy, but he dropped her soon after." Or as Bennetts writes in the story: "After an elaborate courtship, Hatcher opened her heart to a handsome guy who convinced her that she was entering a magical new relationship, only to have him disappear as soon as she'd let down her guard. He charmed, he conquered, he said, 'I'll call you,' and -- poof -- he was gone." Clooney's rep offered an odd rebuttal to Page Six: "I doubt Teri Hatcher is your source, and unless she is, you're full of [bleep]." (Page Six)
Is Britney Spears really, truly pregnant again? You be the judge with this recent video of her, Kevin Federline and 6-month-old Sean Preston in Maui. (TMZ) ... Harvey and Bob Weinstein are planning to bring "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" to Broadway. (Rush & Molloy) ... Jon Stewart and Steven Colbert have joined iTunes: You can now download individual episodes of "The Daily Show" and "The Colbert Report," or sign up for a new, monthly subscription. (Variety) ... The numbers are in: The 2005 box-office totals slipped 6 percent in the U.S.; worldwide they were down almost 8 percent. (Hollywood Reporter) ... On Thursday, after 42 days in court-ordered drug rehab, Leif Garrett asked to be moved to an outpatient treatment center to tend to his ill mother. "I'm going down the right path," he said. "Instead of a dirt road, I've been on a paved road." His request was denied. (Garrett also vowed never to get photographed in a jail jumpsuit again, saying, "I don't look good in orange.") (Associated Press) ... In case we've forgotten, Pete Doherty reminds us in writing (on the window of his car): "I (heart) Kate 4 eva." (Jossip)
Sarah Silverman on how she and boyfriend Jimmy Kimmel identify with the characters in "Brokeback Mountain": "Jimmy and Adam Carolla go to 'Brokeback' every night. So, yeah, that makes me Michelle Williams."(The Awful Truth)
Friday night, it's the season finale of "Battlestar Galactica" (Sci Fi, 10 p.m. EST). On Saturday, Matt Dillon hosts and the Arctic Monkeys perform on "Saturday Night Live" (NBC, 11:30 p.m. EST). And Sunday, it's all about HBO: The long-awaited return of "The Sopranos" (9 p.m. EST) and the series debut of "Big Love" (10 p.m. EST).
-- Scott Lamb