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Michael Jackson Talks to Oprah — 90 Minutes with the King of Pop

Talk-radio shows nationwide hummed Wednesday with callers speculating on what revelations Michael Jackson would make during this live (tape-delayed on the West Coast) 90-minute, one-on-one interview with Oprah Winfrey from the singer's sprawling Santa Ynez ranch. The speculationproved to be more provocative than the interview, as viewers learned little about the reclusive singer that wasn't already expressed in his book, "Moonwalker," or has been rumored about Jackson for years.

Talk-radio shows nationwide hummed Wednesday with callers speculating on what revelations Michael Jackson would make during this live (tape-delayed on the West Coast) 90-minute, one-on-one interview with Oprah Winfrey from the singer’s sprawling Santa Ynez ranch. The speculationproved to be more provocative than the interview, as viewers learned little about the reclusive singer that wasn’t already expressed in his book, “Moonwalker,” or has been rumored about Jackson for years.

The worldwide telecast from the singer’s aptly named Neverland Valley Ranch scored blockbuster ratings and has already become the subject of a post-mortems by armchair psychologists.

The interview teetered from lighthearted to very serious, with Winfrey often overstating the obvious (“It must have been tough growing up in the spotlight”), and failing to ask follow-up questions.

Jackson described rumors about his life as “godawful, horrifying stories, completely appalling” and appeared to be genuinely upset when discussing them.

Addressing rumors, Jackson said he suffers from a skin disorder that causes blotches in his skin pigment, hence the makeup; and that as a child his father Joseph Jackson “frightened” and beat him. The latter admission nearly brought the singer to tears.

A self-described perfectionist, Jackson said he is “never pleased with anything,” including his looks or works. The singer denied that he has had extensive plastic surgery and admitted only to two operations, including a nose job. He said, “If everyone in Hollywood who has had plastic surgery went on vacation, the town would be empty.”

A brief a cappella performance by Jackson sitting on the apron of the stage in his home screening room was impressive.

Jackson’s hosting of terminally ill children at his home is admirable, as are the lofty goals for his Heal the World Foundation.

Apparently unable to resist a promotional opportunity, Jackson debuted the video for “Give in to Me,” the latest track from his Epic Records disc “Dangerous.”

A closing remark by the singer characterizing the interview as “lots of fun” came off more as a question than a validation, and may leave all but the most die-hard fans in a similar quandary.

Michael Jackson Talks to Oprah -- 90 Minutes with the King of Pop

(Wed. (10) , 9:30-11 p.m., ABC)

Production: Taped by Harpo Prods. for ABC. Executive producer, Oprah Winfrey; producer, Debra DiMao; director, Roger Goodman; segment producers, John Watkin, Eamon Harrington; lighting director, Greg Brunton.

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