Jury views controversial Michael Jackson documentary – AP

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[b]Jury views controversial Michael Jackson documentary[/b] By LINDA DEUTSCH, AP Special Correspondent Tuesday, March 1, 2005 (03-01) 15:08 PST Santa Maria, Calif. (AP) — Jurors in the Michael Jackson child molestation case on Tuesday watched the TV documentary that sparked the case, seeing the pop star and the boy who would ultimately accuse him acting as happy friends celebrating his recovery from cancer. “He’s really a child at heart,” the boy tells an interviewer. The documentary “Living With Michael Jackson” was shown after defense attorney Thomas Mesereau Jr. finished an opening statement in which he suggested the entertainer may testify. “Michael will tell you one time he got a very bad feeling at Neverland,” Mesereau said at one point, referring to an incident with the accuser’s family at his estate. At another point he said, “Mr. Jackson will freely admit that he does read girlie magazines from time to time. He absolutely does not show them to children.” Mesereau’s suggestion was intentional, Jackson spokeswoman Raymone K. Bain said in an interview. “They have not made a decision yet. But clearly they have spoken about it,” she said. Jackson, who would be exposed to cross-examination if he takes the stand, is not on the defense witness list. Jurors watched the documentary after prosecutors called its maker, British journalist Martin Bashir, to the stand. During the viewing, Jackson dabbed his eyes with a tissue during a segment in which he says children are his reason for living. The program, taped in 2002 and aired in 2003, led to the investigation that ultimately resulted in charges that Jackson molested a then-13-year-old cancer survivor and conspired to hold the boy’s family captive. As the jurors watched on a large screen in the hushed courtroom, some leaned forward in their seats, a few smiled or laughed when Jackson said humorous things, and a few bobbed their heads along with Jackson’s music. Some smiled when the video showed Jackson singing “smile while your heart is breaking” as he left a hotel. Jackson’s mother, Katherine, also smiled at times from the audience. After the viewing, Mesereau sought to have Bashir’s testimony and the documentary stricken when Bashir refused to say how many hours of videotape were recorded during the making of the program. Superior Court Judge Rodney S. Melville refused to strike the video or the testimony. Mesereau then asked that Bashir be held in contempt and the judge said he would review the testimony before deciding that issue. Jackson appeared agitated when Bashir was on the stand, at one point putting out his arms as if to tell him to speak up. Bashir was testifying in a near-whisper. As Bashir was being peppered with questions by Mesereau, the witness’ attorney, Theodore Boutrous Jr., repeatedly invoked California’s shield law for reporters and the First Amendment, saying that as a journalist Bashir did not have to answer questions about unpublished materials. Bashir refused to answer about 30 times, and Mesereau told the judge he wanted to call the journalist back as a defense witness. The judge said he would decide that after Mesereau shows why Bashir should testify. At the end of the day the prosecution was questioning a new witness, Ann Gabriel Kite, who said she was brought in by a former Jackson lawyer to do public relations after the Bashir documentary aired. Kite said her job was to “immediately begin protecting Mr. Jackson’s reputation” and after looking over media coverage she decided her area of attack would be to “take the focus off Mr. Jackson’s frailty as a human and put it back on his genius as a musician.” As Jackson left court, reporters asked him how he was feeling. He said “good,” then added “angry.” He thanked reporters and walked away. Although the documentary is best known for Jackson’s comments about allowing children to sleep in his bed, it also exposed jurors to a sympathetic portrayal of Jackson. The singer is seen racing go-carts and climbing trees, as well as teaching Bashir how to “moonwalk.” At one point Jackson emotionally describes abuse that he claims he and his brothers received from their father, Joe Jackson, during their days in the Jackson 5. “I remember hearing my mother scream, ‘Joe, you’re going to kill him,'” Jackson says at one point. The documentary also referred to Jackson’s relationships with adult women, and briefly showed the 2002 incident in which he dangled one of his children from a hotel balcony in Germany. At one point, Jackson appears with the boy who is now accusing him, and his brother and sister. The children do a dance routine in Jackson’s kitchen. Later the boy holds hands with Jackson and says the pop star is perpetually childlike and understands children. “You’re an adult when you want to be one,” the boy says. When the boy says that Jackson once told him and his brother, “If you love me you’ll sleep in the bed,” Jackson tells the interviewer that the children slept in his bed and he slept on the floor in a sleeping bag. Holding the boy’s hand tightly, Jackson says, “My greatest inspiration comes from kids. It’s all inspired by that level of purity. I see God in the face of children.” ___ Associated Press Writer Tim Molloy contributed to this report. Source: http://sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/n/a/2005/03/01/state/n135202S78.DTL

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