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Family, Friends and Fans Back Wacko Jacko, Convinced of His Innocence
Above: Michael Jackson's bizarre physical appearance doesn't seem to have diminished his popularity

MONTREAL, PQ (SP) — Since being accused by police of engaging in lewd and lascivious acts with a child under the age of 14, Michael Jackson's legion of fans has been quick to come to his defence. Within days of Jackson's arrest, candlelight vigils were held in cities around the world by people convinced of his innocence.

The turnout at some of these gatherings was less than overwhelming, such as in Montreal, a city with a population in excess of three million in the greater metropolitan area, but which saw only six people attend the vigil. However, the six who did show up included most of Jackson's musically-inclined family members; namely, sisters Janet and Latoya, and fellow Jackson Five members Jackie, Jermaine, Marlon and Tito. "Michael really wanted to join us in Montreal, but unfortunately he had to surrender his passport as a condition of his release from custody," explained Tito.

By no means will the vigil in Montreal be the last opportunity for fans to see the original members of the Jackson Five reunited, as the group is planning to embark upon a reunion tour across North American early in the new year, with all proceeds going to benefit the Michael Jackson Legal Defense Fund. They hope to recapture some of the magic from their last reunion (the Victory Tour) in what they are calling the "Not Guilty Tour". They hope to provide their brother with plenty of positive publicity by performing newly arranged and choreographed versions of many of his hit songs, including "Baby Be Mine" and "P.Y.T. (Pretty Young Thing)". They will also be joined by some of Michael's many friends in the musical industry, including Slash, former lead guitarist of Guns 'N Roses (and collaborator on Jackson's "Dangerous" album), who will help the group perform a cover version of the GNR classic "Sweet Child of Mine".

Shortly after Jackson's arrest, his publicist released the following statement on his behalf: "Lies run sprints, but the truth runs marathons. The truth will win this marathon." Shortly thereafter, rap-artist turned marathon runner Sean "P. Diddy" Combs announced that he will be running a "Marathon of Truth" across Honduras in order to raise money for some of Jackson's favorite children's charities. Combs explained that he chose Honduras to stage this high-profile event because his lucrative business of selling signature-brand designer clothing would never have been possible without all of the hard work done by the children who work in his factories in Honduras.

Above: P. Diddy plans to run across Hondouras in support of Michael Jackson

Jackson is also relying upon modern technology to defend his reputation in the court of public opinion, by establishing a new website which vigorously proclaims his innocence. Many were surprised to learn that the reclusive and mysterious Jackson was so technologically savvy. However, former Jackson defence attorney Johnny Cochran told Satiric Press that the self-described King of Pop has made extensive use of the internet for years. "Everybody knows that Michael has a very deep and sincere affection for the children of this world," said Cochran. "The internet simply provides him with a forum to share some of his ideas, pictures and videos on the subject with others who feel as passionately about children as he does." Some of Jackson's internet pen-pals include Who guitarist Pete Townsend and former children's entertainer Paul Reubens (a.k.a. Pee Wee Herman).

Cochrane was asked why he no longer represented Jackson, despite the fact that he seemed to thrive under a similar level of media scrutiny during the O.J. trial. "While I am open to representing wealthy celebrities of all ethnic backgrounds, the race card is a weapon that I prefer to have in my arsenal in a case of this magnitude," he explained. "However, since Michael no longer appears to be African American, I probably wouldn't have been able to play that card in this case."

Jackson's apparent racial identity crisis did not stop his brother Jermaine from accusing the authorities of racist behaviour in their handling of the matter, describing it as a "modern day lynching." However, Jermaine subsequently retracted this statement, claiming that it based upon a simple misunderstanding. "I saw a news clip of Michael playing with his children while their heads were covered with white hoods, and I simply assumed that he was surrounded by members of the Klu Klux Klan," he explained.

Above: The King of Pop's children Prince Michael II (left) and Prince Michael III

Los Angeles County prosecutors had been hoping to avoid the expected media frenzy that a trial is sure to bring by offering Jackson a plea bargain that included significantly reduced jail time and a "room with a view". However, a deal could not be consummated when Jackson's defence team insisted that any such "room" would have to include a ferris wheel and a petting zoo for exotic animals.

It is these kinds of demands that have earned Jackson a reputation for being one of the world's most bizarre public figures. However, close friends such as Elizabeth Taylor and Liza Minelli dispute that he is really as eccentric as he is perceived to be in the media. "No one thinks it's strange or unusual for a person to collect autographs or other articles of memorabilia pertaining to their favourite celebrities," said Minelli, who invited Jackson to serve as the master of ceremonies at her marriage to David Guest, the world's foremost collector of Judy Garland memorabilia. "Michael simply has an affinity for collecting more personal items, whether it be John Merrit's elephant bones or Walt Disney's cryogenically-frozen head."

"Michael Jackson is probably the most well-adjusted, level-headed person I know," said Taylor, about the person who served as Best Man at her fourth, fifth and seventh weddings.

Although it is unlikely that Jackson's trial will commence anytime soon, NBC has already started production on a television movie about the scandal which it hopes to air in time for the crucial sweeps period in May. After an exhaustive search for the right actor to play Jackson, the network shocked the industry by awarding the role to claymation figure Mr. Bill. Mr. Bill rose to prominence in the 1970s through a series of short films on Saturday Night Live, engaging in seemingly harmless activities which inevitably resulted in him being either flattened or dismembered in a gratuitously violent fashion.

Above: Claymation performer Mr. Bill bears an uncanny physical resemblance to Jackson

Lorne Michaels, executive producer of both Saturday Night Live and the Jackson bio-pic, said that Mr. Bill turned out to be ideal for the part due to certain common physical attributes. "Between the pasty white skin tone and the high falsetto voice, we really couldn't have cast someone who bore more of an uncanny resemblance to the real Michael Jackson," explained Michaels. "Plus, working with a claymation actor enabled us to be able to mold a character that had all of Michael's trademark facial features, including a chin cleft and that very unique nose."

Above: Mr. Bill is a gifted dramatic actor, as he displayed in his screen test for Leaving Las Vegas

Jackson supporters have accused NBC of failing to provide a balanced account of the pop star, instead choosing to portray him in an unduly negative light. There has already been speculation that the network may succumb to public pressure and air the film on a cable channel such as Disney or the Cartoon Network rather than on NBC. "That would really be a shame, because even though the star of this film is made of play-dough, the film deals with very serious subject matter and really ought to be viewed by a mature audience," said Michaels.

As the matter proceeds closer to the trial date, scrutiny will inevitably shift to the complainant, whose credibility must be weighed against that of Jackson to determine whether Jackson will be convicted. The complainant's credibility already suffered a serious blow when it was publicly disclosed that his family received a $135,000 out-of-court settlement from J.C. Penny after the complainant and his mother alleged that they were physically and sexually assaulted by store security guards after the complainant attempted to leave the store with unpaid merchandise.

Some have suggested that the complainant's family may be hoping for a criminal conviction in order to enhance their chances of winning a potentially lucrative civil lawsuit against Jackson. However, the family's defence attorney questions the viability of such a strategy: "It's well known that Mr. Jackson is in a very precarious financial position at the moment, so even if my clients succeeded in suing him, at the end of the day, after everyone's legal bills have been paid, they'd be lucky to walk away with anything more than a llama or two."

Above: Anyone suing the impecunious Jackson would be lucky to end up with a lien on a llama
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