[b]’The wig could’ve looked … better'[/b] EVENT: Basking in post-trial celebrity, Mesereau ponders media spins 12:00 AM CST on Friday, November 11, 2005 By TOM MAURSTAD / The Dallas Morning News As the lead defense attorney in the recent Michael Jackson trial that ended with the pop superstar being found not guilty on all 14 counts, Thomas Mesereau Jr. is the latest lawyer to the celebrities to become a celebrity himself. He’s had a front-row seat for the multimedia spectacle that “celebrity justice” has become in our post-O.J. age. Before speaking to a small but enthusiastic audience at the Inwood Theatre on Thursday night – the latest event in Eclipse magazine’s lecture series – Mr. Mesereau agreed to sit down and discuss all the urgent issues raised by the merging of media and celebrity in America’s (or, at least, California’s) courtrooms. The first question, the one with the most sweeping constitutional implications, the one everybody is dying to know the answer to: So, what did you think of the guy who played you on E!’s nightly re-enactments? Bespeaking his years of keeping cool under fire, Mr. Mesereau didn’t flinch and he didn’t hesitate. “You know, he called me before the trial started wanting to know my astrological sign, which I thought was rather funny, but he did attach significance to it.” A little prodding got him to try a different tack “Of course, I didn’t watch the re-enactments very much because I was too busy working during the trial.” But after a final, blistering follow-up – “come on, what did you really think” – he gave it up: “You know, I think the wig could’ve looked a little better.” He’s referring to the hairy helmet worn by his onscreen impersonator in an attempt to replicate Mr. Mesereau’s visual trademark – his silver mane – familiar to anyone who turned on a TV during the Jackson trial and unmistakable even from across a hotel lobby. Though he’s made his bones as a big-name lawyer by working under the media’s microscope – before Michael Jackson, he was, for a time, representing murder suspect Robert Blake – and has demonstrated his skill and success at spin control, Mr. Mesereau is concerned about the media’s growing role in high-profile trials. “The major problem is, first of all, the public doesn’t get an accurate view of what’s actually happening in the courtroom. Even if the trial is televised, unless you watch every minute, you aren’t likely to get what’s really going on. “The other problem is that the media’s priorities are very different from that of the participants in the trial. The goal of the media is never justice. It’s entertainment. It’s ratings. It’s money. Commentators and reporters may act like justice-seekers, but that’s what it is – an act.” The industry of voyeuristic entertainment that celebrity trials have become creates two courtrooms: the media-made court of public opinion and the actual courtroom. But for a defense lawyer and his clients, you only have to win in one of them. “As a matter of fact, in the Michael Jackson case, I think we lost the battle of spin. But we won where we needed to, in the jury’s verdict.” It may (or not) come as a surprise that in the wake of that verdict, far from thinking that celebrities enjoy an advantage in the courtroom, Mr. Mesereau believes the opposite, citing intensified attention by police and prosecution – “I call it celebrity injustice.” What is absolutely no surprise is that a man who makes a very nice living playing to juries has a rock-solid faith in, of all things, jurors. “That’s why all the media experts are so often wrong. They just don’t get it. They always underestimate how seriously and honorably people take their responsibility when they step in the jury box.” Source: http://www.wfaa.com/sharedcontent/dws/ent/stories/DN-mesereau_1111gl.ART.State.Edition2.e156c0f.html

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