From Miss America by Howard Stern, 1995.
MICHAEL JACKSON, IF YOU LOVE CHILDREN SO MUCH, WHERE ARE THE GIRLS?
And now the story I refused to talk about on the air: my meeting with Michael Jackson.
Why did I keep my lips sealed about this top secret tete-a-tete?
Did I remain in silence because I will never betray the confidences of high-level executives who swear me to secrecy?
Do I have a set of ethics that forbids me from opening my mouth when someone asks me to please keep things confidential?
Hell no, I knew this story was so good that for once I’d keep my big mouth shut and not talk about it on the radio so I’d have something totally fresh to put in my new book. I’m always admitting everything about my life for free. Even though Robin begged me to tell her this story on the air, I played it smart and now I’m getting paid for my secrets.
So here it is, the exciting story of how the King of All Media met the King of Pop or the King of Schween or whatever Michael Jackson calls himself. How did I end up in Dolly Parton’s apartment overlooking Central Park having a business meeting with one of the biggest celebrities in the world? Why would a superstar come to Howard Stern seeking help and guidance? The plain and simple truth is …desperation.
You would have to have sunk to an all-time low to start crawling underneath my rock, and Michael had pretty much hit rock bottom. Child molestation charges! The only thing worse is finding out the National Enquirer just got tapes of you fucking your brother and not only did you make him bleed but you broke his crib. Let’s face it, when all else fails why not go to the miracle-maker, Howard Stern. Of course, it’s always risky because Howard Stern can help you but he can also sting you and write about your meeting in his book.
My entire career has consisted of toilet-bowl radio stations at the bottom of the barrel that have come to me when their ratings have disappeared and they needed a nuclear bomb in mornings to jumpstart their pathetic operations. So Michael Jackson, the disgraced superstar was ready to talk . . . and so was I. I mean, what else did I have to do?
LIVE FROM THE CHEVY CHASE THEATRE, IT’S THE HOWARD STERN SHOW
The whole story began about a year ago when I was at a particular high point in my career. Three television networks were actively courting men for various programs. About twice a year they call me to save late-night television, especially after I do something spectacular. When my first book became the fastest selling book in the history of Simon & Schuster, I began getting calls from every film executive and television type. Suddenly, I was a mainstream performer who had real clout in the marketplace – I was bankable. Immediately they would all forget about my most controversial material and the fact that I could be real dangerous as a broadcaster. Hey, let’s face it, I’ve sold a lot of product. If you totaled all the revenue I’ve generated in radio, books, video, and audiotapes, it would be a bigger gross than ET, Jaws, or Indiana Jones. Of course, Hollywood usually forgets this fact except when it’s glaring them right in their stupid faces.
So, here I had written a bestseller and my old friends at Fox Television immediately needed me. Fox was always doing a dance with me. The first time they approached me was years ago when
they wanted me to take over Joan Rivers’s show and go head-to-head with Johnny. They were a new network and the whole proposition seemed like a disaster with all of the confusion a startup operation brings. Several years later, when Fox didn’t have the rights to NFL Football, they approached me again about doing a halftime show so they could steal viewers away from CBS during the Super Bowl. One of the ideas they suggested was a live interview with Sylvester Stallone, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Bruce Willis. The four of us would sit around, and I could ask them whatever the fuck I wanted. It sounded interesting to me because in a live situation we could really go wherever we wanted without any second-guessing from the edit room. I liked the idea, but it never got off the ground because Fox is always interested in me working for them as long as there is no big price tag involved.
Now I was hearing from Fox again with frantic daily phone calls. Chevy Chase had just finished his stint in the Guinness Book of World Records for the “chump with the shortest late-night television show in history.” You remember The Chevy Chase Show, the one with all the innovations – like a fish tank behind Chevy’s head, a piano keyboard built right into the desk, a theater named after him. Well, like the Nostrildamus that I am, I had predicted in my book that the show would last only six weeks, and I was off by only seven days – Chevy only lasted five.
So here I was, bestselling author and sage, and Fox wanted to talk. They wanted me to step into Chevy’s shoes. I knew that if I took the job, I would immediately kick ass in the ratings and be the new darling of late night. The show would be cutting-edge and I would do it from the Chevy Chase Theatre. How great would that be? Live from the Chevy Chase Theatre, it’s The Howard Stern Show!
The Chevy slot intrigued me because I didn’t want to end up competing with pushovers like Conan or Tom Snyder. My name was always being kicked around for a late-night slot to compete with Conan, and I considered it an insult. I’m a little too good to be stuck in a twelve-thirty rut.
Conan and Tom Snyder battling for a 1.2 rating wasn’t my idea of a competition. I wanted a shot at Letterman and Leno, because it was clear that they were not filling the needs of the audience. It’s pitiful and shocking that Nightline beats the both of them. When fun entertainment can’t beat serious topics at eleven-thirty at night, something is wrong.
Because of time limitations, it’s very hard for me to create original television programming on a nightly basis. Take a look at guys like Letterman and Leno-Letterman, particularly, is behaving like a psychotic. These guys are ready to crack from the pressure. I read that Jay is hiding in closets eavesdropping on NBC executives, and Letterman’s beating up walls whenever he thinks he did a particularly bad show.
I firmly believe they are both so beatable that it’s ridiculous. For example, when Salman Rushdie was on, Letterman had him read a top-ten list. I mean, that’s absurd. A top-ten list? Fuck that. Here’s a guy who has been in hiding from Iranian hit men. I want to know what his life is like. Can he get laid? Are there chicks who find it cool when you’re in hiding? What’s his day like? I want to know. I don’t want to see him read a top-ten list. I want him telling me about life on the run. Letterman should be trounced.
Unfortunately, Jay Leno is not a broadcaster and doesn’t understand how to do it. He’s doing okay, but late-night audiences want something more dynamic. He’s doing an imitation of Letterman’s show. I truly like both Jay and Dave, but I know I am a better performer and could fill the late-night void, no sweat. Did you know that a Jenny Jones rerun on Channel 9 in New York City beats both of them? Her stupid show is working because she’s giving the audience something real, something to get worked up about. No monologue, no jokes, no bits, and she wins consistently.
Anyway, I loved being courted by Fox and was extremely flattered. In my convoluted logic, if they were willing to pay Chevy nine million a year, I was worth at least three times that – I’m a proven winner on TV and radio. Still, I was in no particular rush to sign up with a late-night show because there were two years left on my radio contracts. The idea of doing two of these projects a day seemed mind-numbing, but a good buck can always turn this girl’s head.
Fox was coming fast and furious, but when it came to money they were being ridiculously cheap, as usual. For an unproven commodity like Chase they were paying nine million and now they were looking at me as cheap goods. Besides, while I have no love for Chevy, I was shocked at how Fox treated Chevy when they dumped him. As soon as the critics began ravaging his show with bad reviews, Fox executives were ripping Chevy a new asshole in the press. Now that ain’t right but it’s typical of broadcasting executives. None of them wanted Chevy’s fresh blood on them so they distanced themselves and blasted him in the newspaper.
Years from now everyone will remember that Chevy bombed, but they won’t remember that Lucie Salhany was the executive in charge of the network.
So I kept turning down the Fox offers. If I was going to go into a long and arduous schedule, I wanted to be compensated. The Fox execs were shocked that a lowlife like me wouldn’t come begging to them for this opportunity, but I’m no fool. Who else could pull off this kind of late-night miracle for them: Greg Kinnear? Rosie O’Donnell? Whoopi Goldberg? Wrong. I guess word got to Rupert Murdoch that I wasn’t jumping at the late-night offer and he summoned me and my agent, Don Buchwald, up to his beautiful offices to convince us to take over the eleven P.M. slot.
I found Murdoch to be a real down-to-earth guy who was anxious to win. I liked that. After a great pitch by his closest broadcast associates – I call them the Australian mafia – I leaned in and asked Mr. Murdoch one question: If I did something on the air that was outrageous or I got in trouble with the FCC because some listener complained, would he stick by me or would he feel compelled to fire me? I was honest with Murdoch and explained that when you truly innovate, the public and critics often react to an irreverent new show negatively. In essence, I said, you’re sending me in to detonate a nuclear bomb in late night: Will you hang in there when the going gets tough? With the look of a priest about to offer absolution he said, “Of course.”
Bingo, that was the right answer.
But it didn’t matter deep down, I didn’t believe him. I don’t believe anyone.
I was hot and everyone was coming at me. NBC was anxious to get involved in prime time, day time, night time, anytime. Warren Littlefield and I got chummy and we danced for quite a few months with intense negotiations and discussions. Once again, the deal wasn’t lucrative because for some reason everyone wants to get me cheaply. I know why they find it hard to pay me: they’re thinking that if I am too controversial they can ditch me and pay off a small contract. So I told Warren that I needed some autonomy. I said, “When I start to do things that don’t look like typical boring television and the critics ravage me, will you stick by me and not panic?” He, of course, also said “Yes.”
I didn’t believe him, either.
Next it was CBS and Howard Stringer’s turn. I guess I always thought Letterman and CBS would come to me and offer me the slot after Letterman. First of all, CBS is desperate for ratings and Dave is a big fan of mine. Any broadcaster with half a brain would recognize that if you have a program on after Letterman that is truly original and worth staying up for, it would be an asset to Dave’s ratings. A buzz would start happening. CBS would look hip.
When Letterman hired Tom Snyder as his follow up, I knew he was doomed to fail. In fact, Snyder can’t even beat Conan O’Bnen. I think Letterman was too insecure to choose someone like me because I might steal some of his thunder. The fact of the matter is, I would have added to the excitement and helped to make a late-night dynasty. Stringer and Letterman were aware that Fox and NBC were after me and that I could do serious damage to them on another network.
In order to keep me away from late night, Stringer offered me any other kind of show I wanted: I could do specials several times a year or a sitcom. Most of all, Stringer wanted me to develop a show to go up against Saturday Night Live. He said if I didn’t do it he would have to just run a movie on Saturday nights.
Well, my head was so swollen I could have been mistaken for Rush Limbaugh. I was dizzy with the power at my fingertips, and it kept on snowballing. Fox called again because word got out about CBS’s Saturday night offer and they too wanted me for Saturday nights.
Actually, CBS was really starting to interest me. I had just set up the Howard Stern production company. I truly believe that with films, books, and TV I could develop a comedy franchise, much like National Lampoon did in the seventies and eighties. I had already begun developing scripts and had been talking to many people about a bunch of ideas. With CBS, I could start to create specials. I discussed this with Stringer and he loved my ideas. I wanted my first CBS special to be a blockbuster, something that would blow the minds of the industry.
THE NEVERLAND VALLEY FAIRY TALE RANCH
I had always considered doing a Barbara Walters type special because BARBARA WALTERS IS SUCH A KISS-ASS, i could really shake up that world of the celebrity prime-time interview. I would profile four celebrities, but in no way would it resemble those lightweight, suck-ass interviews that everyone does. I want to know how Bruce Willis fucks Demi Moore – in what position and how many times a week. I could give a shit about his next movie.
Anyway , God must truly be on my side because while I was putting together this production company and coming up with ideas, my agent, Don Buchwald, calls me and says that Michael Jackson’s manager. Sandy Gallin, called him. Michael Jackson wanted to come on my radio show, but Sandy needed to talk to me first because certain issues needed to be discussed.
DON,” I said, “THERE MUST BE SOME SHIT IN MY EARS – I thought you just said that the reclusive bizarro I’ve been goofing on for the past year wants to come on my radio show.”
Don said I had heard him correctly. I was shocked. What did Michael Jackson want from me? If he wanted to talk he must really want to kill me, because I hadn’t exactly been kind to him over the years. In fact, I never really got the whole Michael Jackson thing anyway. His music never seemed particularly interesting or innovative to me. I was a fan of some of his videos, and I recognized that he was instrumental in elevating the look of rock videos. But mostly I considered him to be PATHETIC AND FREAKISH.
I first started goofing on Michael Jackson when he started showing up in the tabloids and doing wacky stuff like living in a hyperbolic chamber. Once it was reported that he had been trying to buy the remains of the Elephant Man from a London hospital for $1 million. I was so incensed at Michael’s crass behavior that I called up the hospital on the air and bid $2 million.
“He’s not for sale,” a stodgy representative of the hospital told me. “It’s for research in the medical college. It’s not up for bids.”
“Haven’t you guys done enough work on him? All I really want is an arm or a leg. Or his hump,” I pleaded.
I kept this woman on the line for a good ten minutes. Those English are so polite they can’t even hang up on a jerk like me.
“We wouldn’t sell him no matter how much we need the money. He’s not for sale!”
“We can take care of the remains better than Michael Jackson. He’s quirky, he’s wacked out,” I said.
“We’re not selling it,” she stood firm.
“All right, do you have any other remains that are ugly that I can buy?” I asked her.
“That is sick,” she huffed.
“But I have a museum,” I explained.
“That is really sick. I’m awfully sorry, I haven’t got the time.” Even she had reached her limit.
“No weird remains? Sheep boy? Chicken girl?”
She hung up on me. Those British – no sense of humor.
So I really wasn’t surprised when Robin announced that Michael Jackson had been accused of child molestation and that the L.A. police department was investigating the charges. My first reaction was that this guy was incredibly ripe for a blackmail situation. After all, we never heard Webster or Macaulay Culkin say anything about being molested. But if you’re so concerned about helping sick kids, donate money to a hospital. Build a freaking hospital, don’t build a zoo in your backyard.
Robin then reported that the full name of Michael Jackson’s ranch was the Neverland Valley Fairy Tale Ranch.
“Guilty,” I announced.
“I like to bring the boys there and we watch movies,” I said, imitating Michael’s voice. “Where do you watch the movies?” I said taking the part of the D.A. “In seats?” “No, I built a special bedroom for little boys to watch the movies in case they’re sick.” “Mr. Jackson, the jury is back.”
“But they never left.”
“They don’t need any more time to decide. Count their hands. Twenty-four guilty votes.”
“But there’s only twelve members of the jury.”
“They all raised both hands.”
I suggested the LAPD set up a sting operation to determine Michael’s guilt. They should parade a bunch of nude children around him and see what happens.
“You think Michael Jackson wears a white glove so he won’t leave fingerprints on anybody?” I wondered. “But I don’t believe the accusations. I think they’ll find it’s a blackmail attempt.”
When it came out the next day that the parents of the allegedly abused kid were wealthy, I began to change my tune. After all, it was extremely weird for a grown man like Jackson to traipse around the world lavishing attention and presents on prepubescent boys. If any other adult started hanging around a neighborhood and calling a kid up four, five times a day and buying him expensive gifts, the parents would flip out.
Take a woman to the Bahamas. Don’t take a ten-year-old boy there.
Then Robin read an article by syndicated columnist Lisa Robinson. She defended Michael because she had known him for years and when her mother was dying he sent her flowers. Lisa said that Michael’s so innocent and childlike, his favorite TV show is Sesame Street. SESAME STREET?! That’s the Playboy Channel for child molesters.
By the third day of the scandal, as details of the allegations surfaced, I had a new theory: Michael had had his face continually changed so each young boy wouldn’t recognize him in a lineup.
It seems to me that Michael Jackson would fit the textbook description of a child molester: All of the neighborhood kids love him. Michael Jackson raises money for kids with pediatric AIDS and stuff like that. These guys always have really cool kid gear set up in their houses – like video game arcades or toys or movies to show the kids.
With Michael’s wealth he doesn’t just have movies – he has a theater. He doesn’t have a pet dog – he has a zoo. He doesn’t have a video game – he has an arcade.
Now I ask you: Has everyone out there lost their minds? What the hell is he doing with these boys?
Then Ryan White’s mom comes on TV and says, “Michael Jackson was a lovely man and he didn’t touch Ryan.” What do you expect? Ryan had AIDS!
I had child star Corey Feldman on my show to defend Michael. Under intense cross-examination he wound up admitting that Michael and he had spent a night together in the same hotel room after a day trip to Disneyland, but nothing sexual had happened. Then Michael’s sister LaToya disclosed that she had observed over fifty boys who had spent the night in Michael’s bedroom when she and her brother were living under the same roof as their parents.
Everybody started getting into the act: former cooks, housekeepers, and security guards all surfaced to report that Michael had a fondness for sleepovers. LAT0YA got into the act again, revealing on my show that her mother hated the fact that Michael kept these young boys around. She had told LaToya in disgust that Michael was a “fag.”
By the middle of September 1993, the kid had filed a civil suit against Michael, alleging activities that included oral sex and masturbation.
“Throw him in jail,” I thundered. “This is turning into the evil clown story. The guy who’s a friend to all children. It all fits together. I wouldn’t spend five minutes with kids. He rents entire amusement parks just to be with them.”
Even Paul McCartney, who hasn’t written a hit song in decades, opened his yap. (Well, at least it wasn’t that hag wife of his, Linda, the veggie. Can you believe their marriage has lasted? She must tie him up every night and fuck him up the ass real good.) So Paul McCartney says he doesn’t think Michael Jackson is capable of child molestation.
“Why doesn’t he leave his grand-children with him?” I asked the wall, which I often talk to.
After police raids on Neverland and his parents’ home, Michael remained in seclusion in Mexico. Then that other pillar of mental stability, Elizabeth Taylor, flew to meet with him.
“Liz, could you come here,” I said in my best wimpy Michael voice, “AND BRING A CUB SCOUT.”
Over the weekend, Michael made a taped statement that he was addicted to painkillers and he would seek treatment abroad.
I read my own version of that statement, again, in my best Michael Jackson voice: “I need painkillers. I need some young sphincter. You would be on painkillers too if every time you got horny someone accused you of greasing up a first grader. That’s painful. I do miss my animals in California. At least Liz is here – she’s a pig. I love boy children. That’s not wrong. I guess sliding into a Jell-0 tub with some Cub Scouts is probably against the law, right?”
On the thirteenth of December, 1993, Michael returned to the States, with two young New Jersey boys in tow – what balls! And a few days later, it was announced that Michael would make a live two-minute statement to the press. And he would not entertain questions.
Of course, we beat him to the punch.
“MANY PEOPLE HAVE ACCUSED ME OF SEXUAL MOLESTATION WITH THEIR HILDREN.
I HAVE BEEN ADVISED – NOT ONLY BY ELIZABETH TAYLOR’S PEOPLE BUT I’VE ALSO BEEN IN TOUCH WITH CAPTAIN KANGAROO AND MR. ROGERS. SHARI LEWIS WAS NOT AVAILABLE FOR CONSULTATION – SHE WAS ON THE ROAD WITH THAT SMELLY SOCK SHE CALLS A PUPPET. ARE THE TWO MINUTES UP YET? THIS STATEMENT WILL CLEAR MY NAME SO WE CAN GET ON WITH THE BUSINESS OF MAKING MUSIC AND MONEY. AS SURE AS MY PENIS IS SPECKLED, I TELL YOU I AM TELLING THE TRUTH. NUMBER ONE, I’D LIKE TO SAY TO MY SISTER LATOYA, ‘SHUT YOUR BIG BLACK MOUTH WITH THAT JEW HUSBAND OF YOURS.’ NUMBER ONE, I AM INNOCENT. NUMBER TWO, I AM A GENTLE MAN-BOY. NUMBER THREE, PM NOT GUILTY. NUMBER FOUR, I NEED A SIX-YEAR-OLD TO FRENCH KISS – JUST KIDDING. NUMBER FOUR, GREASE UP MY GIRAFFE. A LOT OF CHILDREN DO COME TO MY HOUSE FOR CANDY, PEZ, CHOCOLATE, AND CHECKS. I STILL PLAN TO ADOPT MANY OF MY LITTLE FRIENDS. I WANT TO GO BACK TO TYING BALLOONS TO MY GENITALS. I WILL NOW START THE ENGINE OF MY CAMOUFLAGE PLANE SO THAT I CAN LEAVE THE COUNTRY WITHOUT BEING DETECTED. DO I HAVE ANY TIME LEFT?
When Michael himself met the press, it was an anticlimax, compared to my statement.
After his statement, Michael laid low, but we didn’t. We opened our New Year’s Eve Pay-Per-View Pageant with a skit featuring Michael Jackson and one of his little friends, played by a midget.
We had an announcer do a disclaimer:
“We don’t know what’s going on with Michael Jackson, but the stories that people are coming up with are getting wilder and wilder. What’s next? Something like this?”
I was dressed and made up like Michael. I was playing with a young boy. I waved goodbye to his parents.
“Goodnight, Mr. and Mrs. Stupid.”
Then I closed the door, did a 360-degree spin move, and threw my stupid Indiana Jones hat off. I grabbed the kid and we both moonwalked.
“Ooh, we’re having fun on New Year’s Eve.”
I hugged him.
“Look at you, you little pecker. Roseanne Barr takes bigger shits than you. What shall we play? I want this New Year’s Eve to be the best of your life, little Dexter. You know what little children like to play? They like to play chain-the-white-boy-to-the-bed-and-shock-his-balls.”
I picked up the midget and threw him onto a bare mattress frame.
“Come on, little boy, there you go.” I tied him down, gagged his mouth, pulled his pants off, and ripped his shirt off. He was left with only his underpants on.
“Oh, look at all this hair.” I ran my fingers lovingly across his legs. “Ooh, you got more male hormone than I do.”
I got up and went over to the wall. I hit a secret panel, and the wall turned around.
On the other side, there was a huge assortment of S&M paraphernalia.
“Look at this wall, we have everything. Hey, Dexter, do you like Barney?”
The midget nodded. I pulled a Barney doll off the wall. I walked back and began stroking his body with the doll.
“You like him, right? He’s going to feel real good when I SHOVE HIM UP YOUR ASS!”
I rammed the doll into his rear. Then I held up two battery booster cables.
“How would you like to make friends with Mr. Negative and Mr. Positive?”
The midget’s eyes widened and he shook his head no. I touched the two cable ends and they sparked.
“Mr. Wizard can kiss my ass,” I said as I clamped the cables onto his nipples. His whole body began jerking. Suddenly, his parents walked in.
“What is going on here?” his mother screamed.
“Ooh, ooh, uh, well I was just writing you a check for . . .”
I did some Kung Fu special effects moves with my hands and suddenly a check magically materialized.
“. . . fifty thousand dollars.” I handed them the check. His mother stuck it down her dress.
“Well, you boys have fun,” she said. They waved goodbye and left again.
“Ooh, where were we? It’s about time for me to plug my TV set right into your ass.”
I plugged it into his butt and he started screaming and shaking.
“Now stop being such a baby, little Dexter. I’ll get better reception this way. Look!” I pointed to the screen. “It’s that sick, perverted show I ordered for New Year’s Eve. I’ve been waiting all year for this. It’s Howard Stern’s New Year’s Rotten Eve!”
Except for me, everyone seemed to forget about Michael and his troubles. Until a month later, when lawyers for Jackson and the boy settled the civil suit out of court. There were rumors of a $20 million settlement.
“I wish I had a son,” I announced on the air. “I’d say, ‘Boy, here’s the deal. I introduce you to Michael Jackson. You spend a weekend with him. First night, you play hard to get. Jump in the tub naked but don’t let him get in with you. By Sunday night, he’ll want something off you. Probably digital manipulation. Some fondling and petting. Sleep in the same bed with him. Then we sue him for twenty million.”
“Okay, Dad, you’re the boss.”
Quite frankly, I don’t blame Michael Jackson that much. I blame the star-fucking pimp-ass parents of these kids who, let’s face it, wouldn’t be sending their precious prepubescent to spend a weekend in Harlem with just any guy. And, believe me, Macaulay Culkin’s parents only let their cash cow out for the weekend because of Michael Jackson’s superstar status. Why do you think more boys haven’t stepped forward? Because the parents would be prosecuted.
With the settlement, Michael’s troubles seemed to have faded away. Under California law, the boy could not be compelled to testify. Without the boy’s testimony there was no way to prosecute. Now it was time to rehabilitate Michael’s tarnished image. And believe it or not, after all of my Michael-bashing, after months of my unbelievable tirades against him, what did this space cadet do? He turned to me, proving, by the way, that he lived on another planet.
HALFTIME, WITH MICHAEL AND ME
So Michael Jackson wanted to come on my radio show. Frankly, I was shocked. Forget that I had been hammering him on the air for the last year-the pay-per-view skit alone should have been a huge embarrassment to him.
So, with all the ballbusting and crap I had been dishing out about Michael Jackson, I was truly shocked when Sandy Gallin, Michael Jackson’s manager, made a pitch for a meeting. I got the impression that Sandy and Michael were completely out of it, so caught up in their Hollywood ivory towers that they only had a vague notion of what I was about. The only thing they knew about me was that I attracted large crowds when I signed books.
I don’t think either one of them had actually bothered to listen to a broadcast of mine. Sandy had seen the footage of me outside of a New York bookstore and believed that I was someone who could attract the same massive crowds for Michael. Sandy’s vibe was that I was a man of the people, and he wanted me to tell my radio audience Michael was okay, that he wasn’t a child molester. He wanted me to urge everyone to come out onto the street, leave their homes, and show support for Michael Jackson by staging massive demonstrations across the country.
We would begin spontaneous mass demonstrations that would show public support for Michael. For three days they would need me to scream on the air about poor Michael Jackson and how the press and the public had abused him with these false molestation charges.
“Okay, people! Let’s take to the street, and demonstrate for Michael Jackson.” Those words sounded like they could come out of my mouth . . . if there was a gun up my ass.
There was more to the plan: After days of massive demonstrations, Michael would come on the radio show unannounced and thank me and my audience for standing by him while the media continued to try to frame him. I guess their thinking was that because I’m sort of a counterculture type, they would be able to reach out to that white earth-dog audience of mine and receive mass acceptance of Michael from the white middle class that worshipped me.
They were missing the point: the reason I had credibility with my audience was that I was the kind of guy who would never sell out and go along with a moronic notion like this. But from their point of view I was the one that could say, “Hey, man, Michael Jackson’s no child molester. He’s the real deal. He’s a good man.”
They actually wanted me to do this!
Of course it was a great plan except for one problem: There was no way in hell I would go along with this insanity.
I was dumbfounded. What a fucking plan this was. First of all, it was absolutely absurd. Who in their right mind felt Jackson had been cleared of all charges? Number two, who in this cynical world would take to the streets for three days over anything, especially accusations about Michael Jackson? In Bosnia, there’s a holocaust and people don’t take to the streets. And number three . . . why would you approach a sarcastic, honest-to-a-fault asshole like me with such a cockamamie idea? Maybe Rick Dees is asshole enough to go along with this – he makes Dick Clark look hardcore.
Well, when Don finished this story, I started rambling like a mental patient about how absurd all of this was. Could these guys really think I was going to go along with this? Did they know anything about my show? How jive would I sound to my audience as I took to the mean streets of New York and demanded respect for an all-American looney like Michael Jackson? In the past I had often thought Michael Jackson’s ability to use the media and hype any project was well thought out. When he was thinking clearly, he constructed a mysterious aura and leaked out information slowly. His interview with Oprah was released at just the right moment to create a publicity bonanza.
It was now apparent that all of his previous publicity plans had happened quite by accident.
Don and I decided to present a better idea, an idea that could capitalize on our new relationships with the networks, especially CBS. I didn’t want Michael for a radio show. I had bigger plans. Howard Stern and Michael Jackson meeting together was more important than just radio. Michael Jackson coming in unannounced was not grand enough for the great King of All Pop.
WHAT WAS REQUIRED WAS A FACE-TO-FACE MEETING, LIVE ON WORLDWIDE TELEVISION. LIVE! NO DELAY.
Think of the danger, the anticipation, as meek little Michael got in the ring with raving lunatic Howard Stern. No rules and no question off limits. Since CBS was waiting for a list of specials, what better kickoff than a live Howard Stern-Michael Jackson broadcast? I never would have believed that I had a shot to deliver such a show, but now I had Michael’s and Sandy’s ears and I was gonna chew on them till something happened. I knew all of this was a long shot. Even if Michael agreed to do this, eventually he would listen to my show and get the shit scared out of him. But I was willing to try.
I knew CBS would jump at the chance, especially when Don and I laid out our master plan for the special. CBS had recently received a crushing blow when Fox stole the rights to NFL broadcasts. Imagine how Howard Stringer and CBS would salivate as we announced a special of this magnitude to go on halftime against Fox TV’s first broadcast of the Super Bowl. Do you love it? What a pitch! What a special! The King of All Media does it again!!
Don waited a few days to hear back from Sandy. We didn’t want to seem too pushy. Finally, Sandy called and was all jazzed up about the radio-taking-to-the-streets-totally-out-of-touch-bull-shit interview idea. Don told him that we were not interested in the radio concept under any circumstances, because it wasn’t special enough. If we were going to help Michael with his credibility problem, we were looking for something special, something exciting, and, of course, a big payday. We needed to do a TV special. This was probably very frustrating to Gallin because he was used to getting his own way when it came to representing these high-profile performers. But it was incredibly arrogant that he thought I would ruin my entire reputation and career by kissing the ass of Michael Jackson with a parade in the streets just for a stupid interview.
Sandy said he would think about it and if there was any interest in the TV interview, he would call.
AFTER A WEEK OR SO I FIGURED THE IDEA WAS AS DEAD AS THE DICK IN MY DAD’S PANTS. But then Sandy called Don and requested a meeting to be attended by Sandy, Michael, Don, and me. The meeting would take place after my radio show at Sandy’s incredible New York apartment that he shares with one of his other clients, Dolly Parton. Sandy was coming there to talk about the radio and we were there to push for the live TV interview.
The day of the meeting I rushed off the air to be there on time. I said nothing on the air about it, which is amazing because I’m always looking for shit to talk about. But I knew that talking about it would kill the whole deal. I was so good about keeping my mouth shut that I told no one. Thoughts raced through my head about how weird Jackson is. Fucking Never Neverland! If I had his money and I was single, I’d have Pussy Pussyland. No time for children’s rides.
Anyway, Don and I go to the meeting. On the way over I’m plotting and planning my pitch and going over it with Don. I’ve got to get through to this wackjob to get him on live television. Motherfucker has to go along with it. The fucking scumbag is real quiet so I’ll probably have to schmooze him and make him trust me. Oh, fuck!
With Ronnie driving the limo, we pull up to this really nice building, and the doorman is expecting us. Don is talking in the elevator but damn if I know what he’s talking about. I’m lost in my own world. I’m getting one shot at this and I better be good. Would Jackson be there or will we arrive first? Will he be a quiet little mouse? Will it be like pulling teeth? Oh fuck, am I gonna have to kiss his ass?
Gallin greets us at the door and explains Michael isn’t here yet. Good! Gives me time to feel out the situation. Gallin gives us the tour of the apartment. It’s a really classy place with lots of dough poured into the decorating. There is some guy in the kitchen who is an assistant and
he’s washing some dishes in the sink and looks like he’s doing the shit work. We sit down and we’re bullshitting, and Sandy’s telling us all about how he shares the apartment with Dolly, and all his clients and blah, blah, blah. Sandy drops Barbra Streisand’s name a couple of hundred times and how she wants to buy Sandy’s house but she won’t pay the price. You get the idea.
Meanwhile, no Michael Jackson. I knew it. The fucker won’t show up. We’re waiting fifteen, twenty minutes. That fucking mousse-haired, white-skinned, needlenose scumbag better show up, ’cause I’m getting bummed. About twenty-five minutes into this, there’s a knock at the door. I’ve got to admit, my heart is pounding, because it’s probably Mr. Wonderful, and no matter how sophisticated and blase you think you are, you’re about to meet the biggest star in the world. This guy’s huge and he is so fucking famous and so bizarre – what the hell is this gonna be like? He will probably be wheeled in, in an oxygen tank.
It suddenly occurs to me when Sandy gets up from this couch that costs more than Guam, that Jackson will probably be wearing that stupid glove. I’ve always felt he was obsessive-compulsive and that’s why he wore the glove, so he wouldn’t get germs on his hands. He’d probably appreciate it if we didn’t shake hands, and I’m sensitive to that. Fuck ‘im. I’m gonna shake his hand anyway. That’s the way I do business.
HE’S MELTING! HE’S MELTING!
So in walks Jackson and he’s dressed up in that big fucking hat he wears – the Indiana Jones hat – and he’s wearing military garb. Damn, he even dresses up on days off. He’s living the Michael Jackson character twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. The great star. He looks like he’s in the gay militia.
There’s a lot to take in: the pants, the penny loafers. Sheesh, what a mess! I’m sizing him up and I am surprised by how tall he is. We stretch our arms out and I give him a strong, manly handshake. Hmmm, no glove. Just some . . . surgical tape rolled perfectly around each finger tip. I say, “Pleasure to meet you,” and he is silent. I hate that: Ooohhh! Wait till I get him on TV . . . live, in front of the world! I’ll tell him he should speak up when spoken to. Damn, I’m having weird thoughts. I better clear my mind and stop staring at the dude or I’ll get lost in the wacky clothes and blow the whole deal.
After we shake hands, Michael plops down on a chair, kind of falls backward, and sinks in. Sandy starts to talk about how Michael is in a bad situation because he’s still being persecuted by the media even though he’s been cleared. Fuck, is that an absurd statement. No one has been cleared, just paid off, that’s all. Some kid’s parents were paid off, but I’m not really listening to Sandy anyway. I’m focusing in on Michael’s face. I get a close look. He’s sitting no more than two feet from me, directly across, schlumped up in the chair and he’s looking strange. So strange that I want to stand up, glue Sandy’s mouth shut, and scream, “Let’s be quiet for at least five minutes so I can stare at the mess on Michael’s face!” I don’t want to be caught staring so I try to catch him in my peripheral vision.
First of all, he has thick white makeup on, like Bozo the motherfucking clown. It’s so thick you feel like you could take a hunk of it off and stucco a wall. And there, in the center, is this perfectly square nose, like a scarecrow wrapped in surgical tape. And his nose is wrapped like a mummy’s except at the tip. At the end of his nose the tape is unraveling, so it just sort of hangs. Screw the peripheral vision. I’m looking at this weirdo, ’cause nobody does this to himself unless he wants to put on a show.
It’s a hot summer day and this guy has makeup and heavy clothes, and damn, I’m getting lost in my thoughts. Better concentrate on what Sandy is saying ’cause I’m here to convince these guys that they should do a TV show with me. I’m also here to convince them that I’m a sane guy to do business with, so I better hold it together and stop staring.
Sandy’s going on: “You know, Michael’s had some terrible allegations made against him in the press, but he’s clearly innocent.” I’m thinking to myself, He paid off some kid! It doesn’t mean he’s clearly innocent, but just nod your head and quit looking at the fucking surgical tape on the fingers and the nose. Stay focused on the target, Howie baby, get ready to razzle-dazzle these mothers with the pitch of the century.
Listen to Sandy . . . don’t stare at Michael. They are going to want to hear from me and not Don. Don ain’t the guy on the air and they want to be assured that I’m rational.
While I am staring at Michael I start to become very self-conscious. It dawns on me that Michael Jackson most likely has no idea who I am. He was probably expecting a guy who looked like Morley Safer or some disc jockey type like Rick Dees, and here I am with the schnozz and the hair stringing into my face. He is probably unnerved by my look – just as much as I am by his. He is most likely shocked that I look more like a praying mantis than a journalist. When I get my chance to speak I’ll have to be real clear and show them I’m not some drug-addicted-rock-star-wannabe but a guy who’s pretty levelheaded.
“And what we’re thinking here is” – Sandy continues his absurd scenario – “because your radio show is so powerful, and your listeners and your fans love you, that starting tomorrow, start to talk about how Michael has been wronged and how horrible it is.”
Okay, Howie, now would be a good time to nod and agree even though you don’t agree at all. These guys must think I’m the world’s biggest asshole if they think I’m buying this shit. Like, why don’t they just bend me over the couch and stick their cocks in my ass. They’re crazy, but you don’t want to blow the whole fucking deal right out of the water. Just look interested and don’t interrupt just yet. For once, just listen!
Sandy drones on with more horseshit in his very serious voice, “And we should all take to the streets and Michael won’t come in at first. No one will know that Michael is coming in. We’ll all take to the streets.”
Sandy must be putting me on. No guy could orchestrate major careers and be serious about this idea. I know I’m supposed to be listening to this, but I find my thoughts and eyes drifting back to Michael’s face. It is getting hot in Sandy’s apartment and every few minutes Michael is wiping his face. The tape on his fingertips is filthy and all blackened as if he’s been reading a newspaper or something. Michael keeps rubbing his face, and now there are big black smudge marks running all over it.
Now, this was weird. Michael has yet to say a word. The tape on his nose is now black because he’s been rubbing his nose. The fucker is melting! Does Don notice? He’s got to. The guy notices everything. When I’m on Letterman, Don criticizes the way I cross my legs and reminds me that I look awkward in leather pants. How could he not notice this? I know Don is taking in this whole scene and can’t believe it. Don is not a reader of the tabloids, and he has no idea that Jackson wears the masking tape, so he must be really unprepared. How the hell is he keeping himself from laughing? How the hell am I keeping myself from laughing?
Shit, and look at Sandy, he keeps on talking like Michael is normal. Fuck, I want to stand up and call 911: Come quick; we’ve got a melting Michael Jackson on Dolly Parton’s chair. Over!
My thoughts are racing and Sandy keeps interrupting the process with the same pitch in the same monotone: “Your audience will take to the streets, and then Michael will show up and join you in thanking the audience, and we’ll talk about blah, blah, blah:’
How long would he go on with this drivel? Meanwhile, over in Michael’s corner, the oils from his hair are now dripping onto his face. These two are a tag team from hell.
THE EMPEROR: NO CLOTHES, NO NOSE
I swear to you, I have never seen anything like this in my life. I want Sandy to discreetly whisper in Michael’s ear that maybe he should excuse himself and go pull himself together in the bathroom, but obviously this is a case of the emperor having no clothes. It’s tragic that when you get to be that big a star everyone is so concerned with kissing your ass that no one tells you the truth. (And by the way, when you read this, you better tell me this is funny or you’re fired.)
Sandy sounds as if he is winding down on the radio pitch, and I am just about on. My mind is still racing with nose-tape questions. I read in the tabloids that the guy has had so many nose jobs that his nose caved in. I’ve seen pictures of it. And he threatened to sue anyone who says his nose is crushed. Looks like one too many nose jobs to me. The cartilage doesn’t support the nose, so I guess he wears the tape over it. It’s all wrapped perfect. I wonder if he wraps his own nose? Good question, I’ll ask him that on the TV special.
“Tell me about your day, Michael. At what point do you wrap your nose? Michael, the thing is in a perfect triangle – how’d you learn to do that? How come you can’t get the last piece of tape to stick?” Only a rich guy could get away with looking like a mummy. Who the fuck would leave the house with tape all over his nose?
I mean, the guy has no fucking qualms just sitting there . . .
“Howard, what do you think?” Don says.
Oh shit, I’m on.
Don is sitting next to me, and Michael and Sandy are across from me, and I focus my attention right in their eyes. I alternately look at Sandy and Michael.
Sandy has finally come to a halt. Now it is my turn and I had better get my shit together even though my brain is still locked on Michael morphing into Freddy Krueger over in the corner. My point is going to be simple and clear: Their plan is not believable and quite frankly there isn’t another personality on earth who can take Michael and turn him around with the public, but they will have to trust my instincts. In order for this to be accomplished, it has to be done in a credible way.
For sure, there is one thing that is true about me, I don’t take people for a ride or try to dupe them. And I wasn’t gonna try and hose them by telling them an idea was good when it wasn’t. In fact, if I don’t believe in something, I don’t take part in it.
So with the sincerity of Mother Teresa I say, “Look, guys. No one in their right mind is going to take to the street for Michael Jackson.”
Oh, fuck . . . great opening line. Sandy looks disturbed and Michael looks, uh … as melted as an ice cream cone.
“That’s not true,” Sandy protests. “Did you see Michael’s fans in England and Japan?”
“Yes, that’s true, Sandy. But those are Michael’s hardcore fans. I assume by coming on my radio show, you are trying to reach people who are skeptical about Michael Jackson. I don’t have twelve-year-olds listening to my show who are going to storm-troop through America. If my audience was at a book signing, they were there because they wanted to have a book signed. Yes, it turned into a big crowd, but storming the streets over Michael Jackson’s innocence is not going to happen. Three people are going to take to the streets: the guy from the insane asylum and two other people following with a net.”
I go on.
“If I were to interview Michael, it would send out a signal to the cynics in my audience that Michael was brave enough to face an honest and tough inquisitor. My audience knows one thing about me, my critics know one thing about me, even the people who hate me know one thing about me: I’m honest. I will ask Michael all the questions in a forthright and simple manner. If you do an interview with an Oprah Winfrey or a Barbara Walters everyone will just say ‘Candy-cane journalism. Fluff piece.’ This interview must be more important than that. It should be done on television – different from the Oprah interview. It has to be live and dangerous – no editing, no falsification of the record. Michael can’t be accused of avoiding the issues. And that’s your only hope of convincing America.”
THE WOODEN DUMMY
What a pitch. I have won them over. The room is silent. Sandy looks at me and whines in a monotone, “No, that’s not what we had in mind. We don’t want to do that. We don’t want to do that. We want to come on the radio. That’s not going to fly. That’s not going to work.”
And Michael? He just stares off into space. Still hasn’t spoken. He’s a fuckin’ wooden dummy, and we’re putting on a show for him. I’ve got to learn how to do that. I’ve got to learn to sit in a room like a zombie and have everyone talk around me.
This is going badly. Sandy says they want the radio idea. It will work. They aren’t really even interested in the radio interview. They are interested in this demonstration stuff. They wanted me to build hype. It is all so artificial – everything I’m against.
“Look,” I say, “I know what I’m talking about. Consider this: Everything that Michael Jackson does is done in a big way. He’s a superstar. If you come on a local radio show, it’s not important enough. What is big is the Super Bowl. Opposite the Super Bowl … LIVE! . . . Michael Jackson and Howard Stern. The anticipation will be great. There will be a sense of danger. The critics will be guessing and the audience won’t know what to expect. Someone once said that sports is the only really good television because no one knows the ending, not even the players. A live interview will have the same effect.
“The credibility you will get from that, Michael, will turn everything around for you. Because, Michael, if you’ve got something to say, you’re saying it to me, a broadcaster people trust. It says you’re sincere and not afraid of any question or any interviewer, no matter how tough he might be. Michael, you say you’ve been wronged, and if you’ve been wronged, it’s a horrible thing. Now’s your chance to speak out in a humorous but very honest forum.”
All of a sudden Michael stands up. Wow, I really got to him. For the first time all afternoon the wooden Indian looks excited. He’s ready to take the challenge. God, I’m good.
“WHO is THAT? WHO is THAT?” Michael says in his high, squeaky, effeminate voice.
Oh shit, I drove the guy over the edge. Now he’s hearing voices. Who is he talking to? The son of a bitch has a voice higher than my wife’s.
What kind of comment is “Who is that? Who is that?”
“W h o is that?”
It’s the men in the white coats ready to fucking lock you up and throw away the key, you mental case. What are you talking about?
Michael continues ranting, “WHO is THAT? YOU TOLD ME THAT THERE WAS GOING TO BE NOBODY IN THIS APARTMENT, SANDY, BESIDES MYSELF AND THESE TWO GENTLEMEN AND YOU.”
Sandy jumps to attention. “Michael, that’s just my assistant,” he says, way too apologetically. “He’s in the other room. He’s here all the time. He’s harmless. He won’t do anything. I’ll get rid of him.”
So Sandy now runs out of the room, and it’s me, Don, and Michael. Alone. Great! This is going real well. The only time PUPPETHEAD has anything to say is if his super hearing picks up noise from another room. Who the hell can get a read on Sarah Bernhardt, the brooding artist over here? Oh shit, now I have to force conversation. I think Jackson would have just sat there in that trance and waited for Sandy to come back and said nothing. But maybe I can use this opportunity to build some trust here. Let me engage the dude in a little light conversation, ’cause otherwise we won’t know if he is still breathing. As Jesse Jerkson would say, “Let’s build a little common ground.”
I remember that Michael has gotten involved with an ancient Indian form of medicine called Ayurveda through his association with Dr. Deepak Chopra. Chopra was big in the Transcendental Meditation program, so I know something about him (I’ve been doing TM for over twenty years), enough to bullshit my way through a conversation with Michael Jackson. I have tried Ayurvedic medicine and was even pulse-diagnosed, which is a form of detecting illness through the pulse.
I figure the key to getting Michael comfortable is to give him the feeling that I am spiritual. I’m sure he and Liz Taylor must sit around and talk about their swamis, so I figure I’ll razzle-dazzle him with a little of my own spirituality.
I’m not giving up on this meeting. I want this TV show. I am tasting this TV show. I can smell it. P.U. That’s a strong smell. It is going to be big!
Let him trust me. Who knows what the hell he knows about me at this point. Does he know me? Is he familiar with my work? Shit, on New Year’s Eve I was fantasizing that Michael was molesting a midget. I didn’t know what this guy knew, but clearly he was in the ozone. He was busy taping his nose. He wasn’t listening to my show. So I break the silence.
“You know, Michael, I understand that you’re a follower of Deepak Chopra,” I say in my most sincere and charming voice, like the one I use to get a girl in bed.
“OH YES, DEEPAK CHOPRA,” MR. BUBBLEHEAD says.
And all of a sudden, he kind of lights up – as much as one can with fifty pounds of clown makeup caked onto his face. But Michael has managed four words. Wow, I want to throw him a dog bone for this incredible feat.
My agent doesn’t know what the fuck we are talking about, but you can tell he is glad somebody is saying something.
“Yeah, Michael, I’m a big fan of Deepak and Ayurvedic medicine, and I’ve been doing TM and I just started the Sidhis program.”
Michael’s mouth starts to move. The makeup is cracking around the lips. “Yes, Deepak told me how to do TM and the flying technique in the Sidhis.”
I am getting some conversation going. We are rapping about various Indian foods with healing powers. I throw in a quick story about my mother, how she changed through spiritualism and TM, how I brought her back from a deep depression. I figure if I sounded like a wussy momma’s boy, he will trust me. Maybe, if he thinks I helped a depressed person he will think I am gentle. I want that fucking TV special! This is all going down in a brief sixty seconds. I HAVE TO MAKE HIM THINK THAT I AM A HARMLESS PUSSY, AND IT LOOKS LIKE IT IS WORKING.
“Michael, I took care of it,” Sandy interrupts, after locking his assistant in the bedroom or something.
Michael seems satisfied that Sandy has taken care of things. I tell Sandy that Michael and I have had a great conversation while he’s been out of the room, and I turn to Michael and tell him that these are the type of things we can talk about on TV. Shit, I certainly wasn’t gonna tell him that once I got him on live TV he’d get a better grilling than Perry Mason could ever give. I assure them that our conversation will be as comfortable as the TM discussion.
Whoa, am I a bullshitter? But Sandy and Michael seem to be buying it. Hell, if they could buy a scenario where everyone is going to parade in the streets, then they could certainly buy this. I am convinced Michael had been won over.
LISA MARIE: A PIECE OF ASS
Sandy wrapped up the meeting by saying that what I had to say made a lot of sense but he had to talk to Michael about it. He was very excited about my honesty and was certainly more intrigued with the TV notion. With that, Don and I got up to leave and I shook Michael’s hand goodbye.
At that point I was feeling good. I knew I’d turned things around because Jackson was almost smiling. He told me that he hoped we could do this and I said, “So do I.”
Don and I left the apartment. The hallway was lined with about five huge black guys who bodyguard Michael. Suits, bow ties, shaved heads, the works. Real stonefaced.
But Don and I got into my car feeling good about the meeting. The point had been made that I WAS THE ONLY ONE WHO COULD HELP MICHAEL JACKSON. Even though I had made this point and Sandy seemed to buy it, I knew the real truth: By the end of the interview he’d be dizzy from my questions. At the end of the hour, I’d probably have gotten some sort of confession. Maybe not enough for him to spend the rest of his life in jail, but with good behavior he’d be back on the street in three years. But seriously, by sitting through my intense interrogation, he would have achieved Sandy’s goal, which was to humanize him.
Don agreed that we had given it our best shot and that a live television special was now looking like a reasonable idea to Sandy.
Business wasn’t the only thing on our minds, though. That face kept haunting us. We could not believe the mess that lived on Michael Jackson’s head. We were swapping stories on how we kept ourselves from laughing during this meeting. We also admitted it was pretty sad. Who was the pathetic plastic surgeon who performed that operation? DR. MENGELE?
And then we waited for our big deal to come through. We waited. We waited some two weeks and still there was no word from Sandy. Something had obviously gone wrong. I decided to take a last shot by sending a letter to Michael and Sandy. I was sure they had blown off the idea, but I badly wanted that live TV special so I wrote a quick note.
Dear Michael and Sandy, July 8,1994
It was great meeting with you and I enjoyed our discussion. I had a thought I’d like to share with you. I believe one of the coolest moves Michael made was his approach to the Thriller album when he decided to use Eddie Van Halen on guitar. Up until that point Michael was thought of as an r&b artist, and by using Eddie on the album it gave Michael instant acceptance with the MTV generation. The attitude of that constituency was that if Eddie thinks Michael’s happening, we had better give Michael a chance. The result of that endorsement spoke loudly for itself.
We know that by sitting down with me, Michael will get a positive response and the same kind of acceptance. Let’s do it!
Regards, Howard Stern
Maybe Michael could see that Eddie Van Halen and various rock stars had given him acceptance in the music world and maybe Howard Stern had the ability to get him acceptance in the world of public opinion.
The letter didn’t work.
We heard back from Sandy a few weeks later that it was a no go. I figured that those huge bodyguards of Michael’s had told him that I was an asshole and I’d been fucking him over for years. Who knows? All I do know is that they decided that they weren’t going to restore Michael’s image by having him sit down with me and let me ask him tough questions. BOY, WERE THEY RIGHT!
What they did do was to take my live unedited interview idea and hand it to Diane Sawyer. It was hyped as a big deal because Michael had married Lisa Marie since my meeting with him and the sexuality questions still needed to be addressed. The interview was supposed to be different because there would be no editing and no question would be off limits. Sound familiar?
But of course, Diane Sawyer blew it. Candy-cane journalism. She sold out and obviously bought into Michael’s and Sandy’s bullshit. The interview was pathetic. She did everything but beg the audience to take to the streets for MJ. It was one long infomercial and the public saw through it. I had tried to make Michael and Sandy realize that an interview like this was as good as no interview at all. It accomplished nothing. Fluff! Diane Sawyer, who’s just Sally Jessy Raphael with better skin and hair, was as bad and gushy as Oprah.
“I don’t like young boys. I swear. It’s true. Children love me. They follow me everywhere,” the high-voiced wonder told the blonde-bimbo Sawyer.
“Hey, Michael,” I would have said, “why are children sleeping in bed with you?”
Lisa Marie, who, by the way, turned out to be a piece of ass that I’d like to fuck, chimes in with, “They follow him into the bathroom and kick me out of my own bed.” Boy, with all that money the Presley estate has, you’d think they could have sent her to a Swiss finishing school to teach her how to speak properly.
Hey, Diane, where were your friggin’ followup questions?
“Why are these kids running around unsupervised in the house?”
“Where are their parents?”
“Why are kids along on the fucking honeymoon?”
“What about the kid who sued?”
“Why weren’t his allegations aired?”
“Why don’t these friendships last?”
“Why are these boys dumped as soon as they hit puberty?”
“If he loves children so much, where are the little girls?”
HEY, DIANE, I DON’T HAVE A FANCY JOURNALIST’S BACKGROUND, BUT ANY MORON ON THE STREET WOULD HAVE ASKED THESE QUESTIONS – YOU SELLOUT!
And what’s with the nose?
Diane blew it. She was embarrassed to do the interview and it showed.
“Michael,” I would have said, “let’s go through your day at home. When do you tape the schnozz? Where do the parents stay when the kids are sleeping over?”
I watched the Diane Sawyer interview and laughed when the end credits came up. You could see the lights go down and Michael jumping up and down. I could just picture Sandy Gallin and the other salaried spin doctors standing behind Diane Sawyer going, “Bravo, Michael. Home run. Home run.” And Michael’s doing these weird poses and dancing around thrilled that he’s off the hook.
And then I realized that the son of a bitch even got the masses into the street for him. Of course, he had to pay them, but take a look at that stupid movie trailer that Diane Sawyer ran during the show. The streets are lined with weeping fans. They’re holding up signs saying KING OF POP. And here comes Michael, like a conquering monarch. He’s got the gay militia outfit on, with the hockey shinguards, and he marches into town, surrounded by troops, waving, blowing kisses. The camera is pulled back so you can’t see the melting face. It’s a perfect world. There’s confetti and tickertape falling and fans are fainting. And then they unveil a giant statue of Michael. It’s interesting that the only line of dialogue in that whole video is spoken by an eight-year-old crewcut white boy who looks at the statue and says, “Michael, I love you.” Up there on the screen is the bizarre scenario I was supposed to create. Sure. Only in the movies. My fans would have booted me in the ass.
And everybody falls into line. VH-1 does the MJ weekends and MTV premieres the video and ABC gives free ads and NBC premieres the second video. They’re all sellouts. Not me. I’m pure. I’m the man. I’m the only asshole who didn’t get anything going with Michael Jackson. I’m real proud of myself. My father was right: I’m a moron. Maybe I’ll write another letter to Michael Jackson. I’m a pitiful schmuck! (But I did get a chapter in this book out of it, didn’t I?)
Meanwhile, Michael’s record sales go in the toilet. Why? Well, partly it’s just that the music sucks, and partly it’s the nasty smell of those charges, charges that linger in the public’s mind because there are questions that were never answered, like “Hey, Michael? Why are you afraid to deal with the Howard Stern inquisition?”
We’ll never know.