July 25, 2013
By BILL HETHERMAN
City News Service
In video testimony shown to a jury July 24, a physician who treated Michael Jackson for two years said the singer was addicted to the pain medication Demerol and that he gave the pop star an opiate-inhibiting implant to try and break his habit.
Questioned by AEG Live attorney Marvin Putnam, Dr. Alimorad Farschcian said the entertainer wanted to end his Demerol problem for the sake of his children. The singer’s youngest child, Blanket, was born in February 2002, 10 months after Jackson originally began seeing Farschcian.
“His main concern was his kids, always his kids,” the witness said.
Farschcian said his primary practice was regenerative medicine and that Jackson originally asked him to treat an ankle injury. But Jackson later asked about helping him with his drug issues, Farschcian said.
The doctor said he placed drug-inhibiting implants in Jackson’s abdomen on five different occasions until the pop star stopped coming to him in 2003, when Farschcian said the entertainer appeared to be sober.
The implant blocked the feeling of euphoria that Demerol gave Jackson, according to Farschcian.
The physician was called to the stand as a defense witness in trial of the negligence/wrongful death lawsuit that family matriarch Katherine Jackson filed in Los Angeles Superior Court in September 2010 against AEG Live, the promoter of her late son’s planned comeback tour.
The suit, which also names the singer’s three children as plaintiffs, alleges that AEG hired Dr. Conrad Murray as the pop star's physician for the tour and failed to supervise him properly. But AEG maintains it was Jackson who hired Murray in 2006 as his personal physician and chose him to be his doctor during his “This Is It” concerts.
Jackson was in Los Angeles rehearsing for the 50 London tour dates at the time of his June 25, 2009, death at age 50. Murray was convicted in 2011 of involuntary manslaughter for giving the singer a lethal intravenous dose of the powerful anesthetic propofol as a sleep aid and was sentenced to four years in jail.
Farschcian said his notes from Jackson’s treatments showed the singer made steady progress and that an insomnia problem appeared to be improving. He said Katherine Jackson also was aware of the implant treatment of her son and was happy with it.
But asked by Putnam whether he ever believed Jackson had resumed using drugs while under Farschcian’s treatment, the doctor replied, “I might have.”
Farschcian said it was sometimes difficult to reach Jackson personally because of his bodyguards and others in his entourage.
The doctor said he let Jackson stay at the physician's Miami-area home twice because the singer was concerned about the paparazzi. Farschcian said he also visited Jackson’s Neverland Ranch in Santa Barbara County.
Farschcian said he met with Jackson shortly after the entertainer’s November 2003 arrest on child molestation charges of which he was later acquitted. Asked by Putnam to describe how Jackson looked physically, Farschcian replied, “Not too good.”
July 25, 2013
NEW YORK (AP) — Jay-Z’s new album has sold more than 500,000 units its first week.
Nielsen SoundScan said late Tuesday preliminary data shows that “Magna Carta Holy Grail” moved about 527,000 copies. It will debut at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 chart this week.
The album was officially released on July 7. Samsung bought and gave 1.2 million copies of the album to Galaxy mobile phone users on July 4. Billboard is not counting those sales on its charts.
“Magna Carta” has the second-best first-week debut of the year after Justin Timberlake’s “20/20 Experience.” The album features Timberlake, Beyonce, Frank Ocean and Timbaland.
Jay-Z’s 12th album had more than 14 million streams in its first week on Spotify, beating a record that Daft Punk set in May with “Random Access Memories.”
July 25, 2013
KINGSTON, Jamaica (AP) — A judge in Jamaica has dropped a murder case against one of island’s biggest dancehall stars.
Vybz Kartel and two other men will not face trial in the death of businessman Barrington Burton after a judge ruled Wednesday that prosecutors did not present sufficient evidence.
Kartel, however, still faces a murder trial scheduled to start in November for the August 2011 killing of a Jamaican man named Clive “Lizard” Williams. Police have said that Williams was beaten to death at Kartel’s home and that the body has never been found.
Kartel’s real name is Adijah Palmer. He has been in custody for nearly two years. He is known for his violent, X-rated lyrics and is considered one of the top performers in the brash reggae-rap hybrid of dancehall.
July 25, 2013
By JAKE COYLE
The next Spike Lee joint will be a Kickstarter production.
Following in the footsteps of “Veronica Mars” and Zach Braff, Lee has launched an online campaign to help fund his next feature film. The Brooklyn filmmaker on Monday unveiled his bid to raise $1.25 million over the next month using the fundraising site Kickstarter.
Lee offered few details on the film, but said it would be about “the addiction of blood.”
The 56-year-old director said he was inspired to crowd-source the film after hearing from a student of his that the “Veronica Mars” movie raised $5.7 million on Kickstarter, and Braff’s film pulled in $3.1 million. Said Lee in a video posted on his Kickstarter page: “When I heard about that, I said, ‘Oh, snap!’”
Though filmmakers including David Fincher have been involved with Kickstarter projects, Lee, the director of “Do the Right Thing” and “Malcolm X” is easily the most established filmmaker yet to use the service to raise money for a feature. His remake of the 2003 South Korean thriller “Oldboy” is to be released in October.
Kickstarter, which takes a percentage of donations, has found both supporters enamored by the ability to circumvent the usual means of film production, and critics who call it digital panhandling and lament that backers, unlike typical film investors, get no cut of any eventual grosses.
In a video message, Lee said the current climate is difficult an independent filmmakers and the only way to insure your vision gets on screen “is when you bring the money to the table.”
“Super Heroes, Comic Books, 3-D Special EFX, Blowing up the Planet Nine Times and Fly through the Air while Transforming is not my Thang,” wrote Lee. “To me it’s not just that these Films are being made but it seems like these are the only films getting made.”
Contribution levels range up to $10,000, which earns a trip with Lee to a New York Knicks game in his courtside seats.
“Do you wish to see Human Beings dealing with each other on a Human Level?” implored Lee. “How many more explosions with Ear splitting Sound Effects can you take? C'mon People, please get behind this Joint.”
July 25, 2013
PROVINCETOWN, Mass. (AP) — The Coast Guard says singer Kelly Rowland was among the passengers on a private boat escorted back to Cape Cod after the captain became disoriented.
Lt. Ruairi White tells the Cape Cod Times that the boat's captain was following a commercial whale-watching vessel Friday, lost sight of the boat and became disoriented north of Provincetown.
The Coast Guard directed a commercial towboat operator to escort the private vessel back to Provincetown.
TowBoat U.S. Provincetown says on its Facebook page that the boat was 33 miles north of Provincetown. It says the passengers "were great. Just a little shook up."
Rowland is a founding member of Destiny's Child, where Beyonce got her start. The group briefly reunited this year when Rowland and Michelle Williams joined Beyonce for a Super Bowl performance.