Jackson's children and his fans

July 1, 2009 12:20:18 PM PDT
Ya gotta hand it to Michael Jackson: He is certainly, in death, making the case for older parents.

His will, filed in court today, gives custody of his three children to his 79-year-old mother, Katherine.

And if she's unable to care for then he wants 65-year-old Diana Ross to have them.

As any parent who's written a will knows, these stipulations are best not left to surprise, so we assume that both Katherine Jackson and the talented Ms. Ross knew they were named as possible guardians.

We don't know for sure, of course. But either way, a boost for older parents.

But it's one of the few bright spots in the quite public but rather dark life of one Michael Jackson, a 50-year-old who never grew up, and perhaps never knew how.

The latest allegations from a nurse/nutritionist who was working with Jackson - apparently "getting him ready" for his comeback tour in London - claims that the 50-year-old singer begged her for drugs. Specifically, she says he wanted powerful sedatives to help him overcome insomnia. She says she did not give it to him, but it raises anew the disturbing questions about exactly how Jackson died.

And who supplied the drugs that may have helped kill him?

It's fascinating to watch all the Jackson tributes.

The music that's being heralded - and it was incredible music by a then-incredibly talented man - is 25 to 30 years old. The guy was 25 when he hit his peak.

After that, Jackson's life and career was plagued by child abuse scandals and allegations that consumed his fortune and his persona. It was also during this time that Jackson turned himself into something of a freakazoid, physically. The new nose, the long hair, the creamy light skin. Just unreal.

It is not that Michael Jackson that his fans are remembering.

They didn't gather at the Apollo Theater to pay tribute to that Michael Jackson. They paid tribute to the talented entertainer who died, in reality, years ago. And that's the Michael Jackson who is now so popular on the charts - a success he hasn't seen in decades.

He holds the top nine spots on Billboard's Top Pop Catalog Albums chart. And 25 of his songs - are on the Hot Digital Songs chart of the top 75 digital tunes. The raw numbers: Between 300,000 and 400,000 "albums" have been sold since his death, along with 1.8 million digital tracks.

Amazing.

One more note about Jackson's three children and his will. Debbie Rowe, Michael's ex-wife who birthed two of the kids, was specifically excluded from getting anything from the Jackson estate - no money, no kids, no nothing.

But many legal experts believe she could still have a strong claim to the children - since she is the birth mother and was married to Jackson. And if Rowe should get her two kids, some experts say she'd likely get the third, because courts are hesitant to separate siblings.

Did I say it was complicated?

We'll have the latest on the investigation into Jackson's death, as well as the rather confused and disorganized plans for his funeral, tonight at 11. He is apparently NOT going to be buried at his former Neverland Ranch north of Santa Barbara, which he nearly lost in foreclosure and is now in the hands of someone else. Jim Dolan is in Southern California with the latest.

Also at 11, we'll have the latest from Albany, where the political stalemate continues. And now it's affected New York City Schools, where Mayor Bloomberg has lost his legal control of the system. But because this is politics, he's still in control, appointing three of members of the new Board of Education.

We'll also have any breaking news of the night, plus weather and sports. I hope you can join us, tonight at 11.

One other note: thanks to all of you who wrote in about the 11th anniversary of my father's death, which topped this space yesterday. Yahrzeit is what my family calls the day. Your thoughts and beautiful words inspired and comforted me.

BILL RITTER


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