Los Angeles, June 25 (AP/UNB) — Michael Jackson's estate paid tribute to his artistry and charity Tuesday as fans began gathering to celebrate his memory on the 10th anniversary of the King of Pop's death.
"Ten years ago today, the world lost a gifted artist and extraordinary humanitarian," the Jackson estate said in a statement to The Associated Press. "A decade later, Michael Jackson is still with us, his influence embedded in dance, fashion, art and music of the moment. He is more important than ever."
The estate has doggedly worked to protect and enhance Jackson's legacy, a task made more challenging this year when two men accused Jackson of molesting them as boys in the HBO documentary "Leaving Neverland," sparking new scrutiny of years-old claims that Jackson preyed on children. Jackson was acquitted of abuse allegations in 2005 and always vehemently denied such allegations, and the estate and his family angrily refuted the men's claims when the documentary was released in March, noting the men had at one time been among Jackson's biggest defenders and one testified on his behalf at his criminal trial.
The estate is using the anniversary of Jackson's death to celebrate and accentuate Jackson's vast humanitarian work. It called on fans to honor Jackson's memory by engaging in charitable acts "whether it's planting a tree, volunteering at a shelter, cleaning up a public space or helping someone who is lost find their way. ... This is how we honor Michael," the statement read.
Mourners began to gather early Tuesday and placed elaborate flower arrangements and poster-sized pictures of Jackson, some featuring signed messages from dozens of fans, outside his mausoleum at Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Glendale, California.
A florist delivered on arrangement from a client in Japan. A heart made from flowers in the colors of the Iranian flag featured the message "Iran (hearts) MJ." Another flowered heart read "Love from Denmark."
A fan from Las Vegas, dressed as Jackson in bright red shirt and one white glove, was among the first mourners to appear.
Fans also plan to gather at Jackson's last home in the Holmby Hills neighborhood of Los Angeles, where the singer received a fatal dose of the anesthetic propofol on the afternoon of June 25, 2009 from his doctor. Jackson was declared dead at a hospital at age 50.
Others planned to gather around Jackson's star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. One group planned a Hollywood rally Tuesday to declare his innocence of molestation allegations.
Thomas Mesereau, the attorney who successfully defended Jackson at his 2005 trial, issued a statement Tuesday saying "Jackson's compassion, humanity, empathy and talent continues to inspire family, friends, supporters and fans across the globe. The legend of this great father, son, sibling and artist marches forward with characteristic brilliance and wonder. His legacy can be attacked by opportunists. But it will never be defeated. Michael Jackson was a great and kind man."
John Branca and John McClain, both major figures in Jackson's career when he was alive, as co-executors have taken his badly debt-ridden estate and grossed over $1.3 billion through various Jackson-related projects in the past decade, including the film "This Is It," a pair of Cirque du Soleil shows and the sale of Jackson assets that included The Beatles catalog.
Jackson left everything to his mother, his children and charity in his will.
The singer's father, Joe, died last year and is buried in the same cemetery as his son, but Michael's 89-year-old mother, five brothers, three sisters and three kids remain alive and well 10 years later .
The death of Jackson was a massive cultural phenomenon, bringing an outpouring of public affection and revival of his songs and largely erasing the taint that remained after his criminal trial, despite his acquittal.
It was one of the earliest instances of the mass mourning on social media that would soon become common, and a massive worldwide audience both on TV and online watched his July 27, 2009 public memorial that included touching tributes from family members including daughter Paris and performances from Stevie Wonder, Mariah Carey and Lionel Richie.
Dhaka, Jun 25 (UNB) - News of a medical emergency involving Michael Jackson started filtering through at around 22:00 BST on Thursday 25 June 2009, reports the BBC.
I know because I was on my way to watch cheesy 90s boy band East 17 in the Dance Tent at the Glastonbury Festival. They were a warm-up act the day before the event properly began.
My editor called. Michael Jackson might have been rushed to hospital. He might be in a coma. That was according to TMZ, which was gaining a reputation for celebrity scoops.
But no-one knew if it was true. Strange stories about the King of Pop often bubbled up. A few weeks earlier, it had been reported that he had skin cancer, which was later denied.
Even so, I turned around and headed back to the dusty backstage cabin I had just been working in and searched for an update. In London, Los Angeles and around the world, newsrooms swung into action to try to find out what had happened. The BBC's LA bureau phoned spokespeople, associates and business managers. None would confirm anything. Some just hung up.
A short time later, my editor called again. "Er, TMZ are saying he's dead." A deep breath. Michael Jackson was arguably the biggest pop star of the previous 30 years, and the greatness of his music is undeniable. But there was a more troubling side - accused (and acquitted) of child molestation, and with a downright strange persona and personal life.
At that stage, the world had no information about what had happened in the preceding hours. But in the months and years that followed, details of his final day became clear.
Jackson was just weeks away from a series of lucrative comeback concerts at the O2 Arena in London, and was under pressure to make them a success.
He had left rehearsals in Los Angeles shortly after midnight the night before his death, according to the book 83 Minutes: The Doctor, The Damage and the Shocking Death of Michael Jackson. But for years, the superstar had been unable to sleep without the help of sedatives.
Dr Conrad Murray, who had been employed as his $150,000-a-month personal physician for the shows, was waiting when the star arrived home at his mansion. In Jackson's bedroom, pill bottles, vials, syringes and oxygen tanks littered tables, shelves and the floor.
Dr Murray told police he had given the singer propofol - a powerful drug usually given before and during surgery in hospitals - for 60 nights in a row until 22 June 2009, when he tried to wean him off.
In the early hours of 25 June, the physician gave Jackson a series of different sedatives in an attempt to help him sleep. But they didn't have the desired effect, and Dr Murray said Jackson was getting increasingly agitated about the forthcoming day's rehearsals. "I must be ready for the show in England," he said, according to the physician.
It reached 10:00 local time and the singer was still awake. Dr Murray told police Jackson had begged him: "Please, please, give him some milk so that I can sleep." He was referring to the milk-like propofol. The physician consented, and said he administered the drug via an intravenous drip around 10:40 PST.
Dr Murray told detectives he had the necessary equipment to monitor heart rate and oxygen levels in the blood, and that he stayed at Jackson's bedside before leaving for two minutes to go to the bathroom. When he returned, he found his patient wasn't breathing.
But Dr Murray's timeline was called into question by phone records, which suggested it was just before noon that he noticed something was wrong.
He said he then found a pulse and a frantic attempt at resuscitation followed. He claimed he couldn't call 911 straight away because he was doing CPR, but he eventually called for one of Jackson's security guards. Alberto Alvarez said Dr Murray ordered him to clear away vials, bottles and an IV bag first before calling the emergency services. That call was not made until 12:21 PST.
Jackson's children Prince and Paris were distraught as panic engulfed the household. The paramedics didn't recognise the star when they arrived. He appeared pale and underweight. Seeing his condition and the IV drip stand, paramedic Richard Senneff assumed he was a terminally ill patient.
Jackson was taken the short journey to UCLA medical centre, where resuscitation attempts continued. He was declared dead one hour and 13 minutes later.
By then, fans and media were gathering outside the hospital, and TMZ broke the news of his death to the world around 14:44 PST - which was 22:44 in the UK.
TMZ, the dogged upstart website, had scooped the established media. And with smartphone use taking off, it became one of the first major stories to spread via social media.
Word magazine editor Andrew Harrison was among those at Glastonbury and told BBC Radio 5 Live that night: "What you're seeing here is a lot of people crouched over these little glowing screens trying to find out if it's true or not, because people really can't believe it. People are searching every website they can think of to try to find more information."
The demand for information overwhelmed the internet. Some Google users couldn't access results when searching for Michael Jackson's name because its software mistook the volume of requests for a malware attack. Twitter, the LA Times, TMZ, Wikipedia and AOL Instant Messenger all suffered crashes.
It was not until 23:45 BST that 5 Live presenter Richard Bacon told listeners the BBC felt confident enough to confirm the news, after the Los Angeles Times and Associated Press had also done so.
Two years later, Conrad Murray was convicted of involuntary manslaughter and served less than two years of a four-year sentence.
In the Glastonbury cabin, I was bashing out an appreciation of Jackson's career. By the time I staggered out in the early hours (UK time), everybody had heard the news, either via Twitter, old fashioned word of mouth, or because his music was being pumped out from scattered sound systems and stalls around the site.
"They started playing loads of his music and we thought, 'Oh, that's really strange'," one fan said. "And then someone said, 'Michael Jackson's dead' and we were like, 'No way'."
If anyone still hadn't heard, some people wore T-shirts bearing the words "Michael Jackson is dead" and "I was at Glasto when Jacko died", which had been printed by enterprising T-shirt stalls within hours of the news breaking.
That weekend, a few festival performers referenced Jackson on stage or played cover versions, but few were willing to give interviews about him. Perhaps their PR people feared they might come to regret any gushing tributes if more scandals emerged after Jackson's death. Which came to pass earlier this year, when two men gave persuasive testimony in a documentary, saying Jackson had repeatedly abused them when they were children.
In the past decade, we have learned details about the sorry circumstances in which Michael Jackson died. While his music will always remain, we have also had some more troubling insights into his life.
Los Angeles, Jun 24 (AP/UNB) — Writer Judith Krantz, whose million-selling novels such as "Scruples" and "Princess Daisy" engrossed readers worldwide with their steamy tales of the rich and beautiful, died Saturday at her Bel-Air home. She was 91.
Krantz's son Tony Krantz, a TV executive, confirmed her death by natural causes on Sunday afternoon. He said he'd hoped to re-create the "Scruples" miniseries before her she died but it is still in the works.
"She had this rare combination of commercial and creative," he said.
Krantz wrote for Cosmopolitan and Ladies Home Journal magazines before discovering, at age 50, the talent for fiction that made her rich and famous like the characters she created.
Her first novel — "Scruples" in 1978 — became a best-seller, as did the nine that followed. Krantz's books have been translated into 52 languages and sold more than 85 million copies worldwide. They inspired a series of hit miniseries with the help of her husband, film and television producer Steve Krantz.
"I always ask myself if what I'm writing will satisfy a reader who's in a plane that can't land because of fog, or who's recovering from an operation in a hospital or who has to escape to a more delightful world for whatever reason," Krantz said in 1990. "That is the test."
While her work was decidedly less than highbrow, Krantz made no apologies for the steamy novels with titles like "Princess Daisy," ''Mistral's Daughter," ''Lovers," ''I'll Take Manhattan" and "The Jewels of Tessa Kent."
"I write the best books I know how," she once said. "I can't write any better than this."
She filled her stories with delicious details about her characters' lavish lifestyles — designer clothes, luxurious estates — and enviable romances. And she spared no specifics when it came to sex.
"If you're going to write a good erotic scene, you have to go into details," Krantz told the Los Angeles Times in 1990. "I don't believe in thunder and lightning and fireworks exploding. I think people want to know what's happening."
So appealing were her sensational stories of high-powered heroines that each novel was reimagined for television as an episodic miniseries. Steve Krantz, a millionaire in his own right through such productions as the animated film "Fritz the Cat," helped translate his wife's work for TV.
The author was also famous for living a glamorous life that paralleled that of her characters. Her home in Los Angeles' exclusive Bel Air community featured a soundproof writing room flanked by an immaculately kept garden. In her closet were many of the same designer-label clothes the characters in her books wore.
The eldest of three children, Krantz was born Judith Bluma Tarcher in 1928 in New York City. Her father owned an advertising agency, and her mother worked as an attorney. Her brother, publisher Jeremy Tarcher, married the late ventriloquist Shari Lewis.
Growing up, Krantz was a precocious student at New York's exclusive Birch Wathen school, once describing herself as the youngest, smartest and shortest girl in her class. After skipping two grades, she enrolled at Wellesley College at age 16.
She was also by her own account an indifferent college student. She said she only enrolled at Wellesley "to date, read and graduate" and claimed to have set a record for her dorm by once dating 13 different men on 13 consecutive evenings.
"I got only one A-plus, and that was in English 101," she told The Boston Globe in 1982. "I had a B-minus average in English, my major, and made C's and C-minuses in everything else. But I didn't come here to get good marks."
When she could earn no better than a B in a short story class, she decided she wasn't good enough to write fiction.
"Just in time for my 50th birthday, I discovered that I could write fiction. My husband had urged me to try fiction for 15 years before I did," she was quoted in a profile on Wellesley's website in 2001. "I believed that if I couldn't write 'literature,' I shouldn't write at all."
"Now, I would say to young women, do something you have a true feeling for, no matter how little talent you may believe you have," she added. "Let no masterwork be your goal — a modest goal may lead you further than you dream."
Krantz had met her husband through her high school friend Barbara Walters, who introduced the two in 1953. They married the following year.
"I fell in love with him the minute I saw him," she once said.
Her husband died in 2007 at age 83. The couple had two sons, Tony and Nick, a stockbroker, and two grandchildren.
Krantz's family requested that donations be given to the Library Foundation of Los Angeles in lieu of flowers.
Her memoir, "Sex and Shopping: The Confessions of a Nice Jewish Girl," was published in 2001 and it reflected on her penchant for telling sex-drenched tales about the pretty and the privileged.
"In my opinion, there are two things women will always be interested in — sex and shopping," she said in 1994. "And if they're not, they've left out a large part of the fun in life."
Los Angeles , Jun 24 (AP/UNB) — The documentary "Leaving Neverland" presented a disturbing depiction of Michael Jackson as a child molester, but the initial wave of negative publicity hasn't greatly diminished the King of Pop's image or the enduring popularity of his music.
Many believe Jackson's musical legacy is still going strong as Tuesday's 10th anniversary of his death approaches. Backlash to the documentary that aired in March on HBO and Britain's Channel 4 prompted radio stations in Canada to stop playing his music and the producers of "The Simpsons" to remove an episode that featured Jackson's voice.
But that's been the most visible extent of the backlash.
There's been no rescinding honors like has happened to Bill Cosby and Harvey Weinstein, or mass movements to stop playing Jackson's music, as R&B singer R. Kelly has faced.
Jackson's massively popular "Thriller" album and the theatrical version of its music video still reside in the Library of Congress' National Recording Registry. His music is still featured in commercials and is a part of a Cirque Du Soleil show in Las Vegas.
Museums in Detroit and Tennessee keep images and artifacts of Jackson on display, and his memorabilia continues to sell.
"He still commands prices compared to most any other celebrity," said Darren Julien, president and CEO of the Culver City, California-based Julien's Auctions. He said his auction house has sold around $15 million of the superstar singer's property including his white glove that went for $480,000 in 2009 and a jacket, which was recently bought for $75,000.
Julien said Russia, Asia, Middle East, Canada and America are some of the key markets where buyers are willing to spend money on Jackson's merchandise.
"He's the only celebrity where we would have lines of people to get in whenever we had stuff of his to auction," he continued. "There's only one person that compares to Marilyn Monroe in collectability, and that is Michael Jackson."
Billboard senior editor Gail Mitchell isn't surprised by support for Jackson, who she has met before. For a recent story, the veteran music journalist said she and a colleague interviewed about 30 music executives who believe the singer's legacy could withstand the "Leaving Neverland" controversy.
"Some saw the film, others didn't want to," she said. "Many said that (Jackson) is not here to defend himself the way R. Kelly is here. ... The jury is always probably going to be out. But all of the execs said his legacy will be fine."
Mitchell recently attended Janet Jackson's residency performance in Las Vegas where the singer played several of her brother's songs that had "people dancing and buzzin'" as the "crowd went wild" during classic songs from The Jackson 5, which she called "one of the highlights of show."
"There was an aura about him," Mitchell said of Jackson. "He had an energy in terms of his talent and the dancing, and I still think that aura still exists to a point. I know it's been tarnished, but I think overall that there is no denying what he brought to the table."
Jackson died at the age of 50 from an overdose of the anesthetic propofol on June 25, 2009. In an instant, Jackson's popularity surged after years of being tarnished by sexual abuse allegations and a 2005 child molestation trial, which ended with his acquittal. After Jackson's death, the criminal case nearly became an afterthought until "Leaving Neverland" was released.
The documentary focused on two men, Wade Robson and James Safechuck, who denied Jackson abused them while the singer was still alive. Both have said having their own children forced them to face the truth.
Jackson acknowledged befriending numerous children, including some he invited into his bed, but denied he molested any of them.
His estate has also vigorously denied Robson and Safechuck's allegations, calling the documentary a retread of proven falsehoods from men seeking money. A lawsuit was filed against HBO.
Despite the documentary, Jackson's music streaming numbers continued to soar, according to Ian Drew, consumer editorial director at Billboard. He said Jackson's estate has been smart about keeping his music relevant, but it could be diminished over those being "creeped out" by allegations.
Jackson's nephew said his legacy will never be destroyed.
"No lie can destroy what was given to us as a blessing from God, and that's what my uncle was," said Sigmund "Siggy" Jackson, son of Jackson's eldest brother, Jackie Jackson. "You can never destroy his legacy with a petty lie. He will be here. And even after God calls us home, his legacy will live on and never be torn down."
Film producer Jodi Gomes agrees. She believes Jackson's legacy will live on from this generation to the next, no matter what.
Gomes said the family had been working on a documentary on The Jackson 5's 50th anniversary. The contract was ready to be signed with a network, but she said it backed out after "Leaving Neverland."
"The 50th anniversary was planned and the whole family was participating and it was a celebration of what started the whole entire Jackson brand. And now, that has gotten lost in the shuffle," said Gomes, who worked on the 2009 reality series "The Jacksons: A Family Dynasty" and the 1992 miniseries "The Jacksons: An American Dream."
Siggy Jackson said his uncle's legacy will continue to win despite the "haters," but understood the logic of some companies not affiliating themselves with anything Michael Jackson.
"That's standard business. You wait until the heat burns down, so you can see after the smoke goes down," he said. "I don't fault anyone from backing off. But as far as the family, it doesn't stop anything. The plans don't stop. My uncle's legacy will never go away. Our family will make sure of that."
New York, Jun 24 (AP/UNB) — "Toy Story 4" brought the box office to life with a $118 million opening weekend after a three-week slump of underperforming sequels, but the Pixar film's below-expectations debut didn't quell continuing concerns about a rocky summer movie season.
The "Toy Story 4" opening, according to studio estimates Sunday, ranks as the fourth highest animated film opening ever, not accounting for inflation. Above it are 2018's "Incredibles 2" ($182 million), 2016's "Finding Dory" ($135 million), and 2007's "Shrek the Third" ($121 million). It's the year's third largest debut, trailing only a pair of other Disney releases: "Avengers: Endgame" and "Captain Marvel."
But heading into the weekend, a $140-150 million opening had seemed assured for "Toy Story 4," which played in 4,575 North American theaters. Adjusted for inflation, the film came in shy of the $110.3 million — or about $129 million in today's dollars — "Toy Story 3" made nine years ago.
The opening for "Toy Story 4" followed a string of disappointing sequels including "Dark Phoenix," ''Godzilla: King of the Monsters" and "Men in Black: International." But "Toy Story 4" had something those films didn't: great reviews. It rates 98% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes. Audiences gave it an A CinemaScore.
The sequel, which introduces the child-made plaything Forky (voiced by Tony Hale) to the voice cast including Tom Hanks and Tim Allen, also grossed $120 million internationally, including a modest $13.4 million in China, the world's second largest film market. It was trounced there by the rerelease of Hayao Miyazaki's 2001 animated classic "Spirited Away" from Studio Ghibli, the Japan animation studio that has often served as an inspiration to Pixar.
Cathleen Taff, distribution chief for Disney, said the company was thrilled with the opening and praised Pixar's high standards.
"The Pixar team has always been disciplined about making sure they have a compelling story to tell, and that is especially true when it comes to sequels if you look at their past," said Taff. "Their process of sort of going through the rigor of making sure that this is a story people want told, the end result speaks for itself."
The overall marketplace didn't give "Toy Story 4" much momentum. Last week's top film, Sony Pictures' poorly reviewed "Men in Black International" slid 64 percent, slipping to fourth place with $10.8 million.
The No. 2 film, Orion Pictures' horror remake "Child's Play" — cheekily positioned as the weekend's R-rated toy movie — also opened below expectations with $14.1 million. A remake of the 1988 original, the film stars Aubrey Plaza with Mark Hamill voicing the knife-wielding doll Chucky.
Luc Besson's assassin thriller "Anna" missed out on the top 10 entirely, opening with a mere $3.5 million in 2,114 theaters. Lionsgate, which bought U.S. distribution rights in 2017, did little to promote the film in advance of its release. In 2018, Besson was accused of a rape by the actress Sand Van Roy. A lawyer for Besson denied the accusation and French authorities dropped the investigation in February citing a lack of evidence. Eight other women also accused Besson of sexual misconduct in a French publication.
In a summer season that's running 6.5% off the pace of last year, according to Comscore, many had positioned "Toy Story 4" as a surefire savior, due in part to the enviable track record of Disney and Pixar. (Disney's "Aladdin" remake this weekend passed $800 million worldwide.) Instead, the weekend was down 27.2% from the same frame last year. Overwhelming the industry's market leader, Disney was thought immune to any sequel downturn.
But most other studios would love to have a film underperform to $118 million, with an expectation of long-term playability. Outside Sony's upcoming "Spider-Man: Far From Home," ''Toy Story 4" has no family-friendly competition until Disney's own "Lion King" remake opens July 19.
"The numbers being bandied about out there pre-weekend were certainly much higher than the number that it came in with," said Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst for Comscore. "But if we bring it down to earth and put some perspective on this, it was still a franchise-high debut. It was a global opening of $238 million."
But with underwhelming returns for even critically acclaimed comedies like "Booksmart" and seemingly surefire bets like "The Secret Life of Pets 2," little has gone according to plan in Hollywood's primetime season.
"The summer has been a real head-scratcher," said Dergarabedian.
In limited release, Neon's "Wild Rose," about a Scottish single mother (Jessie Buckley) who dreams of being a country music star, opened with a per-theater average of $14,046 in four locations, and Magnolia Pictures' documentary "Toni Morrison: The Pieces I Am" debuted with a per-theater average of $11,000 in four locations.
Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at U.S. and Canadian theaters, according to Comscore. Where available, the latest international numbers for Friday through Sunday are also included.
1. "Toy Story 4," $118 million ($120 million international).
2. "Child's Play," $14.1 million ($3.6 million international).
3. "Aladdin," $12.2 million ($32.9 million international).
4. "Men in Black International," $10.8 million ($30.2 million international).
5. "The Secret Life of Pets 2," $10.3 million ($10.8 million international).
6. "Rocketman," $5.7 million ($5.5 million international).
7. "John Wick: Chapter 3," $4.1 million ($3.4 million international).
8. "Godzilla: King of the Monsters," $3.7 million ($4 million international).
9. "Dark Phoenix," $3.6 million ($11.1 million international).
10. "Shaft," $3.6 million.