MICHAEL JACKSON FEELS BETRAYED
As ABC was set to air "Living with Michael Jackson" on Thursday, the pop star said he felt betrayed by the journalist who interviewed him for the documentary.
At the same time, the New York Daily News reported that Santa Barbara County District Attorney Thomas Sneddon would be watching the show, in which Jackson reportedly told British interviewer Martin Bashir that he has slept in his bed with many children.
"It's not sexual," Jackson reportedly said in the interview. "We're going to sleep. I tuck them in."
Jackson was the target of an extensive investigation in 1993, after a 13-year-old boy accused the entertainer of abusing him at Jackson's Neverland estate near Santa Barbara. Jackson reportedly settled a lawsuit for around $30 million, and no criminal charges were filed.
A publicist for Jackson issued a statement Thursday saying the TV documentary was unfair.
"I trusted Martin Bashir to come into my life and that of my family because I wanted the truth to be told," said the statement. "Martin Bashir persuaded me to trust him, that his would be an honest and fair portrayal of my life and told me that he was 'the man that turned Diana's life around.'"
Bashir is the interviewer who got the late Princess Diana to admit that she had been seeing another man when she was married to Prince Charles.
"Today I feel more betrayed than perhaps ever before that someone who had got to know my children, my staff and me, whom I let into my heart and told the truth, could then sacrifice the trust I placed in him and produce this terrible and unfair program," Jackson said. "Everyone who knows me will know the truth, which is that my children come first in my life and that I would never harm any child."
The documentary was a ratings hit when it aired in England on Monday night, reportedly attracting an audience estimated at 10 times the size of the crowd that tuned in for an interview with Saddam Hussein.
HE'S GOT TIME FOR A TV SHOW
MSNBC has announced that Jesse Ventura will host a one-hour "issues-oriented" show in prime time, but the cable channel has not set a date for a premiere.
In a prepared statement, Ventura said he looks forward to the competition.
"I've taken on a lot of challenges in my life, and there are a few things that have always been true: I've always beaten the odds, I've always done it my own way and I've never worried about being politically correct," he said. "I'm looking forward to doing a show that is from the gut, completely unpredictable and full of different opinions. You might not always agree with what you hear, but I guarantee you'll never be bored."
MSNBC said the show will feature high-profile guests and a live studio audience -- but other than that, format issues have yet to be worked out. A spokeswoman for the cable channel said the premiere date might depend on if and when the United States goes to war against Iraq.
JACKIE CHAN, OWEN WILSON PLANING TO SADDLE UP AGAIN?
Their first pairing, the 2000 comedy "Shanghai Noon," grossed $57 million. The sequel, which finds the unlikely Old West action heroes traveling to England, is expected to do better.
At the Hollywood premiere of "Shanghai Knights" this week, producer Roger Birnbaum said he'd be interested in a third Chan-Wilson "Shanghai" movie, comparing the premise to the old Bob Hope-Bing Crosby "Road" movies.
"There's a lot more roads for them to travel," he said.
Birnbaum told Variety the third "Shanghai" comedy-adventure would take the boys to Africa.
REMAKING A '70S MINOR CLASSIC
Plans are reportedly under way in Hollywood to remake the 1973 reggae crime drama "The Harder They Come" with a hip-hop sensibility.
In the 1973 original, reggae recording artist Jimmy Cliff starred as a poor Jamaican trying to score a hit record, and running into unpleasant realities including payola. He resorts to dealing marijuana and winds up going on the run from the law -- and becomes a legendary outlaw in the process.
The Hollywood Reporter said Thursday that New Line Cinema has the project on a fast track.
STARS COME OUT FOR OSCARS
Telecast producer Gil Cates announced Thursday that Renée Zellweger will be a presenter at the 75th Academy Awards ceremony.
It will be Zellweger's third appearance as a presenter on an Oscars telecast. She was nominated for Best Actress last year for her performance in "Bridget Jones's Diary," and has a strong chance of another nomination this year for "Chicago."
Zellweger has already won the Golden Globe and has been nominated for a Screen Actors Guild Award for her performance in "Chicago" as a murderous woman with dreams of making it in show business.
The 75th anniversary Academy Awards will be presented on March 23 at the Kodak Theatre at Hollywood, in ceremonies to be telecast live by ABC.