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Michael Jackson News / Trumped! Why dead celebs may be the safest option
« on: November 14, 2012, 12:53:07 AM »
Trumped! Why dead celebs may be the safest option
November 14, 2012 - 1:26PM
Michael Baker


When PepsiCo announced a marketing campaign earlier this year that involved plastering Michael Jackson's silhouette on a billion Pepsi cans to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Bad album, some wondered if celebrity endorsement might have run off the rails. After all, Jackson was dead and not drinking much soda.

But there was an upside to this as well – despite the controversies that followed him in life, Jackson was no longer in a position to heap unexpected embarrassment on Pepsi through fresh words and actions.

Living celebs can do more damage – as Nike and other backers of Lance Armstrong found out recently.
Michael Baker is principal of Baker Consulting and can be reached at and You are not allowed to view links. Register or Login.
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I expect A LOT of unexpected embarrassment.

My Childhood, My Sabbath, My Freedom
What I wanted more than anything was to be ordinary. The Sabbath was when I could be.
BY: Michael Jackson

This story first ran on Beliefnet in December, 2000.

"Have you seen my childhood?
I'm searching for that wonder in my youth
Like pirates in adventurous dreams,
Of conquest and kings on the throne…"

Written and Composed by Michael Jackson

In one of our conversations together, my friend Rabbi Shmuley told me that he had asked some of his colleagues–-writers, thinkers, and artists-–to pen their reflections on the Sabbath. He then suggested that I write down my own thoughts on the subject, a project I found intriguing and timely due to the recent death of Rose Fine, a Jewish woman who was my beloved childhood tutor and who traveled with me and my brothers when we were all in the Jackson Five.

Last Friday night I joined Rabbi Shmuley, his family, and their guests for the Sabbath dinner at their home. What I found especially moving was when Shmuley and his wife placed their hands on the heads of their young children, and blessed them to grow to be like Abraham and Sarah, which I understand is an ancient Jewish tradition. This led me to reminisce about my own childhood, and what the Sabbath meant to me growing up.

When people see the television appearances I made when I was a little boy--8 or 9 years old and just starting off my lifelong music career--they see a little boy with a big smile. They assume that this little boy is smiling because he is joyous, that he is singing his heart out because he is happy, and that he is dancing with an energy that never quits because he is carefree.

But while singing and dancing were, and undoubtedly remain, some of my greatest joys, at that time what I wanted more than anything else were the two things that make childhood the most wondrous years of life, namely, playtime and a feeling of freedom. The public at large has yet to really understand the pressures of childhood celebrity, which, while exciting, always exacts a very heavy price.

More than anything, I wished to be a normal little boy. I wanted to build tree houses and go to roller-skating parties. But very early on, this became impossible. I had to accept that my childhood would be different than most others. But that's what always made me wonder what an ordinary childhood would be like.

There was one day a week, however, that I was able to escape the stages of Hollywood and the crowds of the concert hall. That day was the Sabbath. In all religions, the Sabbath is a day that allows and requires the faithful to step away from the everyday and focus on the exceptional. I learned something about the Jewish Sabbath in particular early on from Rose, and my friend Shmuley further clarified for me how, on the Jewish Sabbath, the everyday life tasks of cooking dinner, grocery shopping, and mowing the lawn are forbidden so that humanity may make the ordinary extraordinary and the natural miraculous. Even things like shopping or turning on lights are forbidden. On this day, the Sabbath, everyone in the world gets to stop being ordinary.

But what I wanted more than anything was to be ordinary. So, in my world, the Sabbath was the day I was able to step away from my unique life and glimpse the everyday.

Sundays were my day for "Pioneering," the term used for the missionary work that Jehovah's Witnesses do. We would spend the day in the suburbs of Southern California, going door to door or making the rounds of a shopping mall, distributing our Watchtower magazine. I continued my pioneering work for years and years after my career had been launched.

Up to 1991, the time of my Dangerous tour, I would don my disguise of fat suit, wig, beard, and glasses and head off to live in the land of everyday America, visiting shopping plazas and tract homes in the suburbs. I loved to set foot in all those houses and catch sight of the shag rugs and La-Z-Boy armchairs with kids playing Monopoly and grandmas baby-sitting and all those wonderfully ordinary and, to me, magical scenes of life. Many, I know, would argue that these things seem like no big deal. But to me they were positively fascinating.

The funny thing is, no adults ever suspected who this strange bearded man was. But the children, with their extra intuition, knew right away. Like the Pied Piper of Hamlin, I would find myself trailed by eight or nine children by my second round of the shopping mall. They would follow and whisper and giggle, but they wouldn't reveal my secret to their parents. They were my little aides. Hey, maybe you bought a magazine from me. Now you're wondering, right?

Sundays were sacred for two other reasons as I was growing up. They were both the day that I attended church and the day that I spent rehearsing my hardest. This may seem against the idea of "rest on the Sabbath," but it was the most sacred way I could spend my time: developing the talents that God gave me. The best way I can imagine to show my thanks is to make the very most of the gift that God gave me.

Church was a treat in its own right. It was again a chance for me to be "normal." The church elders treated me the same as they treated everyone else. And they never became annoyed on the days that the back of the church filled with reporters who had discovered my whereabouts. They tried to welcome them in. After all, even reporters are the children of God.

When I was young, my whole family attended church together in Indiana. As we grew older, this became difficult, and my remarkable and truly saintly mother would sometimes end up there on her own. When circumstances made it increasingly complex for me to attend, I was comforted by the belief that God exists in my heart, and in music and in beauty, not only in a building. But I still miss the sense of community that I felt there--I miss the friends and the people who treated me like I was simply one of them. Simply human. Sharing a day with God.

When I became a father, my whole sense of God and the Sabbath was redefined. When I look into the eyes of my son, Prince, and daughter, Paris, I see miracles and I see beauty. Every single day becomes the Sabbath. Having children allows me to enter this magical and holy world every moment of every day. I see God through my children. I speak to God through my children. I am humbled for the blessings He has given me.

There have been times in my life when I, like everyone, has had to wonder about God's existence. When Prince smiles, when Paris giggles, I have no doubts. Children are God's gift to us. No--they are more than that--they are the very form of God's energy and creativity and love. He is to be found in their innocence, experienced in their playfulness.

My most precious days as a child were those Sundays when I was able to be free. That is what the Sabbath has always been for me. A day of freedom. Now I find this freedom and magic every day in my role as a father. The amazing thing is, we all have the ability to make every day the precious day that is the Sabbath. And we do this by rededicating ourselves to the wonders of childhood. We do this by giving over our entire heart and mind to the little people we call son and daughter. The time we spend with them is the Sabbath. The place we spend it is called Paradise.
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Hoax brings police to Ashton Kutcher's Hollywood Hills house
Wednesday, October 03, 2012

HOLLYWOOD HILLS, LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Someone reported a break-in at Ashton Kutcher's Hollywood Hills home above the Hollywood Reservoir Wednesday morning. The break-in turned out to be a hoax. It's the latest hoax involving a celebrity, a fact of life for police in Hollywood.

The 911 report was made by a teletype machine used by the hearing-impaired. The report was untraceable.

"Today around 11:08, Hollywood Station received a teletype, apparently from a deaf person, saying that three people had broken into a house and needed help," said LAPD Officer Cleon Joseph. "Officers arrived at scene and once they got to the scene, they went in and then pulled everybody out. But at the same time, it seems that someone called out to Mr. Kutcher and he sent his assistant out to meet with the police saying that there was no issues here, there may have been workers in there. Officers did their due diligence and pulled everyone out of the house, interviewed and questioned, and found that it was a hoax."

Police said they do not know where the teletype came from. It did specify Kutcher's home. Police say in the written 911 note, it said shots had been fired at the residence. That brought out a massive police response.

"There was a call of shots being fired. And when officers got to the residence, obviously there was no shots being fired," said Joseph. "They were all employees of the residence doing what they were supposed to be doing."

Wednesday's call was not the first prank call or teletype police have responded to involving a Hollywood celebrity recently. In early August, emergency operators got a call that a kidnapping and shooting had taken place at the Studio City home of singer/actress Miley Cyrus, who was not home at the time. No one else was home at the time. Police discovered it was a hoax.

Asked if police believe it's one suspect perpetuating these hoaxes, Joseph said, "That's information we just don't know at this time."

The investigation was ongoing Wednesday.

(Copyright ©2012 KABC-TV/DT. All Rights Reserved.)
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It's the latest hoax involving a celebrity, a fact of life for police in Hollywood.

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