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Archive for Wednesday, June 15, 2005

People in the news

June 15, 2005

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Fans offer advice to Michael Jackson

Michael Jackson's lawyer said Tuesday that the pop star was going to be more careful from now on and not let children into his bed anymore because "it makes him vulnerable to false charges."

In an interview with The Associated Press the morning after Jackson's acquittal on all counts, Thomas Mesereau Jr. said he was convinced that the pop star "has never molested any child." But he said Jackson would continue to be "a convenient target for people who want to extract money or build careers at his expense."

Jackson himself remained out of sight after being found not guilty on charges he molested a 13-year-old boy at his Neverland ranch. But his Web site triumphantly ranked his acquittal alongside the birth of Martin Luther King Jr., the fall of the Berlin Wall and the release of Nelson Mandela.

Meanwhile, nearly 100 fans gathered outside Neverland's gates Tuesday discussed ways the beleaguered pop star could reform his tarnished image. Among their advice: Stay away from kids and move out of Neverland.

"I think he's made some big mistakes, such as letting kids sleep in his bed," said Omar Reece, a 25-year-old from Belleville, Ill. "I can see his side of it, but he still lives in a society that doesn't accept a grown man sleeping with kids."

Much of the publicity, Reece said, was a bum rap.

"People have judged Michael Jackson on his plastic surgery and his eccentricities," he said. While plastic surgery and stunts such as dangling his infant son from a hotel balcony have diverted attention from his music, Reece said Jackson could get back on track by appearing on award shows. He said Jackson should take to the road in a nationwide speaking tour in which he could tell the public what he had been feeling.

Another fan, Mark Cofield, urged Jackson to consider a change of address. "Leave Neverland, because that name will always be connected to an alleged crime," the 30-year-old paralegal said.

Cofield, who drove to Neverland from San Francisco on Sunday so he could witness the verdict, agreed that Jackson had to steer clear of children outside his own family. "Stay away from children now, except for your own kids," he said.

Sam Davidson, 21, a university student from London, said Jackson should move to Europe, so he wouldn't be hounded by the U.S. media, and plot his comeback from there. "He can do it," Davidson said of a comeback. "He did it in '93, after the first allegations, and I think he can do it again. I look up to him like I look up to my dad."

Not all the fans clustered near the gates Tuesday said Jackson needed to change. One group of fans from Germany said it would be sad if children were barred from Neverland.

"He's a child in his heart. When he's surrounded by children, he becomes one of them," said Christoph Klinger, 25, a newspaper ad salesman from Baden-Baden, Germany. "He should not stop inviting children."

Reporting from Tehran

Tehran, Iran - Sean Penn has stepped into the shoes of a reporter once again.

The Oscar-winning actor has left a wake of excited fans and bewildered clerics around the Iranian capital while on a special assignment for the San Francisco Chronicle to cover Friday's presidential elections.

Last week, Penn attended Friday prayers at Tehran University where worshippers gave the well-known chant of "Death to America." On Monday, he told an audience at Tehran's Film Museum that such cries hurt prospects for starting a dialogue between Iran and the United States.

His trip has offered Iranian photographers the rare taste of paparazzi-style celebrity hunting. Iran has a highly respected domestic film industry that has won countless international awards, but few Hollywood stars have visited since the Islamic Revolution.

EBay withdraws tickets

London - The Internet auction site eBay will withdraw tickets for the London Live 8 concert from sale, a company official said Tuesday, after organizer Bob Geldof said the sale was despicable. The concert was organized to highlight poverty in Africa, and the tickets are free.

More than 100 pairs of tickets, however, began appearing earlier Tuesday on the eBay auction site at high prices. Some attracted bids of up to $1,800, prompting Geldof to call for a boycott of eBay Inc.

"The people who are selling these tickets on Web sites are miserable wretches who are capitalizing on people's misery," the musician said.

Later Tuesday, eBay Managing Director Doug McCallum said the company would take the tickets off its auction site, although the company said reselling charity concert tickets was not illegal in Britain.

"We've listened carefully to our customers," McCallum said. "Overwhelmingly the voice is that they would like us to take down the listing."

Geldof said he was glad eBay was removing the tickets from auction.

"Well done for taking them down," Geldof told Sky News. "But it was despicable, and they should have thought about it before they did this."

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