Michael Jackson passed away a year and a half ago, but judging by his high profile throughout 2010, you wouldn't have known it. His estate managed to get out a posthumous album, Michael, in time for the Christmas shopping season, and now, in the final news week of the calendar year, shocking details regarding the manslaughter case against Michael's personal physician, Dr. Conrad Murray, indicate that Michael's life and death will be just as big a news story in 2011.
This week, as TMZ was reporting that 30 witnesses will testify for the prosecution in a (as-yet-unscheduled) preliminary hearing for what will surely be the trial of the century, and a lawyer for Dr. Murray battled with the prosecutor over who should test residue from two syringes found in Michael's bedroom, the Associated Press dropped a real bombshell: that the defense for Dr. Murray will suggest that Michael actually died by his own hand.
"I do think it's clear the defense is operating under the theory that the victim, Michael Jackson, killed himself," Deputy District Attorney David Walgren stated. "They don't want to say it, but that's the direction in which they are going."
While defense attorney J. Michael Flanagan refused to comment on any defense theories as of this writing, he did tell Superior Court Judge Michael Pastor that a massive amount of the anesthetic that killed Michael, Propofol, would have had to be present in Michael's body in order to reach a fatal level (about 150 milligrams), and that Dr. Murray supposedly gave him only 25 milligrams. Flanagan implied that a broken syringe found on Michael's bedroom floor might indicate that the singer injected himself, after Dr. Murray left the room to go use the bathroom.
Additionally, more controversy surrounded the fallen King Of Pop's legacy this week, regarding the Discovery Channel documentary "Michael Jackson's Autopsy: What Really Killed Michael Jackson." A petition was signed by 9,000-and-counting outraged fans to keep the program off the air in Britain, and Jackson estate co-executors John Branca and John McClain slammed the special and its distasteful advertising (which depicts a sequined-gloved gurney corpse). In an angry missive to Discovery Communications, Michael's estate accused Discovery of "blind desire to exploit Michael's death, while cynically attempting to dupe the public into believing this show will have serious medical value....we find your decision to proceed with an offensive, exploitative program like 'Michael Jackson's Autopsy' so mind boggling."
As for the Discovery ads themselves, Branca and McClain stated: "Discovery obviously views this as clever advertising....But in fact the ad makes light of Jackson's death and is debased, sick, and insensitive."
Los Angeles assistant chief coroner Ed Winter, who was involved in Michael's autopsy, also spoke out against the show, revealing to TMZ that he'd refused to be interviewed by producers. "I told them no, we had no interest in doing it and it was a pending case. I think it's unprofessional and I wouldn't do it out of respect for the family," he said.
As of this writing, Discovery has not made a decision to cancel the special in the U.K., nor is there an air date in place for the U.S. Watch this space for more developments on this situation, Dr. Murray's trial, and all other things Jackson-related.
Speaking of things Jackson-related, in much happier news, Michael's older brother and former Jackson Five bandmate, Tito Jackson, is readying his first-ever solo album, So Far, So Good, at age 57. It's admittedly a late start for the singer to go solo ("The only [Jacksons] who haven't done it are my mom and dad and the family dog," he told the AP)--although he apparently had planned to release the album a little earlier, but after Michael's death, "it took a minute to get my head back in the right direction." The album, which Tito describes as "pop-ish and R&B-ish...a little bit of everything," will be released in early 2011, and Tito had planned to debut some songs from it at a New Year's Eve performance in Atlanta this week.
Let's just hope he's not confused with THIS Tito Jackson when So Far, So Good finally comes out.
Meanwhile, other music celebs were finding domestic bliss over the holidays. LeAnn Rimes got engaged to her boyfriend, actor Eddie Cibrian, after a controversial extramarital courtship; Elton John and his husband, David Furnish, became parents via surrogate to a baby boy, Zachary Jackson Levon Furnish-John; and two other musicians, Dierks Bentley and Alanis Morissette, welcomed children into the world on Christmas Day. Congratulations to them all. Sadly, life at home was not all that blissful this week for John Mellencamp and his supermodel wife, Elaine Irwin Mellencamp, who announced they were splitting up after 20 years of marriage.
And finally, in even sadder news, music lost another legend this week: The day after Christmas, R&B great Teena Marie, aka the Ivory Queen Of Soul, was found dead at her home. She was only 54. We hope the Ivory Queen, the King Of Pop, and these other greats who were recently lost are making beautiful music together somewhere up there in the sky, to ring in the New Year this week.
THIS WEEK'S TOP 10 STORIES:
1) Going On The Defense - The prosecutor says Dr. Conrad Murray's defense attorneys will claim Michael Jackson actually killed himself.
2) R.I.P., Teena Marie - The Ivory Queen Of Soul passes away at age 54.
3) Eddie To Make An Honest Woman Out Of LeAnn - Cibrian and Rimes are officially engaged.
4) Circle Of Life - Elton John and David Furnish become parents to a baby boy.
5) The World Goes Gaga For The Fame Monster - Lady Gaga's album is the biggest international seller of 2010.
6) Alanis Morissette Becomes A Mom - Now she's got one hand in her pocket, and the other one is holding a diaper bag.
7) Hurts Not-So-Good - John Mellencamp and his wife Elaine split up after 20 years together.
8) Justin Timberlake Brings Sexy Back - His rumored new song "Take You Down" leaks online. But is it really him?
9) New Britney Spears Single Details Revealed - Meanwhile, the Dr. Luke/Max Martin-produced "Hold It Against Me" by Justin's ex is set for a January 7 release.
10) Tito Makes A Name For Himself - The Jackson brother is finally going solo.