FROM FANS and non-fans, the pleading question is already being asked: “Will there be no end to this?” “This” being the wall-to-wall coverage of every little Michael Jackson-related bit of “news.” The answer is “no.” Whatever Jackson’s oddities he was a worldwide star, iconic figure and groundbreaking artist. He died suddenly and still mysteriously. He joins Marilyn and Elvis as a tragic figure whose life-after-death becomes endless fodder for the media. I’ll only say — again — leave the children out of it. No matter how they were conceived or by whom, Michael Jackson was their legal father, and so far we have no evidence that he wasn’t a loving parent, despite his strange ways in dealing with his fame, his own unsatisfactory youth and his issues about race. Rake through his medicine cabinets, drag out every sordid detail of his intimate relations, publish his will. But leave those three beautiful children alone to now live a totally different and perhaps frightening life — they have been so shrouded and cosseted by Michael. I’d like to say that now they’ll live a “normal” life, but being any part of the Jackson family doesn’t seem to encourage stability. (I think the Diana Ross idea, if mom Katherine Jackson won’t or can’t raise them, is very smart. She has been an exemplary mother to her own family of five.) Let the kids off the hook, and then Michael, Marilyn and Elvis can sit around up there laughing over our foolish obsessing. Fame is a circus and we, the media, not the stars, end up as its primary clowns.
OF COURSE not everybody agrees that Michael will join the immortal pantheon. Filmmaker and author Charles Casillo, while giving due credit Michael’s genius says: “I’m going to call this one, perhaps wrongly … but I don’t think Michael Jackson will be in the league of Elvis or Marilyn five years from now. No one can come close to the level of the stars that died before, say, 1990. When they went, they took tons of mystique and unanswered questions with them. Because they weren’t scrutinized and analyzed daily in such a way; 24 hours of talking heads … blog blasts … Twitter commentary. After this feasting frenzy of Michael, in six months–after the shocking revelations, the shocking books, the shocking documentaries — he will be laid quietly to rest along with his legacy. Not because he is any less stellar, but I think the 21st century burnout factor is — you should pardon the expression — an icon killer.” Hmmmm… I’m not sure I agree that Michael’s legend will be cast aside so swiftly. He was involvingly unique.
KUDOS TO the great Whoopi Goldberg who covered herself with glory playing an addiction recovery sponsor in Benjamin Bratt’s A&E drama series “The Cleaner.” She was described therein as being “like a Nubian queen living in a funky old beach bungalow.” Bratt adds: “Talk about an iconic persona. I think over the years people have forgotten what an amazing actor she is!” And remember, not too many months ago, Whoopi told me that she adores making movies and yearns for good great roles in the future. This is a woman who won the Academy Award for “Ghost.” And she is also the woman who righted the boat of “The View” and has put that show on a more even keel.
ANTONIA FRASER who is writing a book since the loss of her beloved husband, playwright Harold Pinter: “In essence, it is a love story. The beginning and the end, the first light and twilight, are dealt with more fully than the high noon in between, which is described more impressionistically. It is ‘my life with Harold Pinter,’ not my complete life, and certainly not his.”