[b]’Rush Hour’ Actor, Director: Inside Info on [Jackson][/b] Tuesday, February 24, 2004 By Roger Friedman ‘Rush Hour’ Director: ‘I Knew the Mother Would Set Up Jacko’ Chris Tucker, the star of the two “Rush Hour” movies, and Brett Ratner, the director of the same two films, are suddenly at the center of the Michael Jackson child molestation case. I’m telling you this exclusively. Tucker, it appears, plays a major role in the case along with his girlfriend, who is also the mother of his 5-year-old son. The two, I am told, often babysat the 13-year-old accuser as well as his brother and sister. Indeed, a picture is becoming clearer of a mother who often deposited her children with anyone who’d take them — grandparents, friends, acquaintances — so she could spend time with her boyfriend. The mother is also said to have been inattentive during her son’s bout with cancer. One byproduct of parking her children with so many different people: lots of witnesses who can describe her then 12-year-old son’s relationship with Jackson, as well as the boy’s attitude and mental state if he were approached by a potential molester. The boy, for example, was a frequent guest on the set of Ratner’s comedy, “Rush Hour 2” which starred Tucker and Jackie Chan. This was long before the boy and his family logged time at Jackson’s Neverland Ranch. Ratner recalled for me what it was like to make the hugely successful comedy with a 12-year-old boy by his side. (Calls to Tucker were not returned.) “[The boy] would sit in my director’s chair. When I told him to get up, he’d tell me to go to hell.” Ratner said, “He used to tell me, ‘Brett, I don’t like the last shot’ while he was watching us make the movie. He’s telling me how to make my movie! He’s more street smart than I was at that age. If someone tried to fondle him, he’d punch them in the face. He’s an adult. I think the jury will see that.” Ratner confirmed for me what I’ve heard a lot now from others: that actor/comedian Chris Tucker bonded with the boy when he was ill. I’ve told you before that it was Tucker and Adam Sandler who the boy wanted to meet when he was at a camp for sick children. It was through Tucker that he met Jackson. What will come out in testimony, if there is ever a trial in this case, will be the story of how Tucker and his girlfriend/fiancee flew with the boy and his family from Miami back to California on Feb. 7, 2003, after the boy and his brother appeared on the Martin Bashir TV special, “Living With Michael Jackson.” Both Tucker and his fiancee will testify, I am told, about the family, in particular about a mother who often dumped her star struck kids with Tucker so she could be with her boyfriend. One major bombshell: contrary to previous reports in other places, it will come out in court that it was Tucker’s girlfriend — and not Jackson employee Marc Schaffel — who accompanied the mother on her interview with Los Angeles County Child Protective Services one year ago. Some reports had named Schaffel as a witness to the interview. “They’re wrong,” my sources said. The whole issue of Tucker’s involvement with the family is going to be central to Jackson’s defense. I told you two weeks ago that the mother encouraged her kids to call her boyfriend, Jay Jackson, an Army Reserve officer, “daddy.” She also told them to do the same thing with Michael Jackson, I reported. Sources said she was equally enthusiastic about Tucker filling that role. Interestingly, two sources who don’t know each other both told me stories about the early days of the family’s involvement with Michael Jackson. Both of these sources claim that initially it was the father — who has appeared on TV under his first name, David — and not the mother who seemed to be caring for the children. “She couldn’t deal with the boy’s illness,” my sources said. “It was the father who was there when he had the cancer treatments.” “I always had a weird feeling that the mother would set Michael up,” Ratner told me yesterday. He’s directed several of Michael’s music videos, including “You Rock My World.” “I always liked the father. But the mother was an opportunist. Source: http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,112273,00.html

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