Saturday, April 13, 2024

All About Lady Gaga, Michael Jackson, And Anonymity


In the old days, if you wrote a letter to the editor of your newspaper, your name would be printed. It would also be verified. The letter would be vetted for racist, hate, or inappr0priate language. But the internet has changed all that. The cloak of anonymity means that you can say whatever you like in an email comment to a story on the web. Some sites just allow the comments to appear and deal with problems later. On this site, we monitor and approve the comments before they are posted.

What seems hilarious to me is that some commenters think that writing really terrible things about me will help get them published. It will not. I never signed up for abuse. So think twice before you decide to attack this messenger. Your correspondence will be deleted. Racist, anti-semitic comments, and ad hominen attacks are unacceptable.

I am a little surprised by all the hate directed at Lady Gaga. My reporting of her declining album sales is in no way an indictment of her music, personal style, or opinions. The outpouring of hate doesn’t seem commensurate with the over 1 million albums she has sold in the last few weeks. So she dresses as an egg and wears crazy outfits. This is no reason to express such bitterness. I don’t get it. Maybe she’s overdone it. And certainly the closeness of her sound and gimmicks to Madonna isn’t helping her cause. But Stefani Germanotta is not going away. She has a great voice and can write songs–she really plays that piano. “Just Dance” and “Poker Face” are great records. Maybe it was too much with “Judas.” But Lady Gaga is for real. Once she’s confident enough not to attempt shock all the time, Germanotta should settle down as a serious pop star.

And then there’s Michael Jackson. The 2nd anniversary of his death has brought out all the crazy fans, the people who loved Michael so much –and so unreasonably–that they believe they knew “the truth” about his life, his death and everything in between. This is a weird phenomenon of fandom, but worse with Jackson. It’s extraordinary. Facts never seem to matter to these fans. There’s always some “conspiracy” only they understood. With books coming soon by Frank Cascio (who actually knew Jackson and what was going on) to siblings Jermaine and La Toya–who knew very little, especially in the last five years–we’re just going to see the fan-atics really agitated. Ironically, they’re the same ones who hurt the sales of the “Michael” album. I thought they’d embrace the last music from Michael as a tribute to him. But spurred on by ridiculous claims, Jackson’s fans actually undermined him. And they missed the real treats Michael Jackson left behind for them. I guess it’s true, you only hurt the ones you love.

Finally, Michael’s former manager and publicist, Raymone Bain, had a lot to say to me in emails sent in the middle of the night. Even though the Wall Street Journal, Forbes and other publications reported that Bain had pled guilty to not filing taxes, she’s upset that I reported it. Bain would not explain to me why she hadn’t filed taxes. She wrote:

Roger…I’ve just read your column and my response:
1) As I and my attorneys indicated a couple years back when you first
reported it… I have never spoken to, met with, or had any dealings
with a Jason Cestaro… and what you are reporting, and any
representations he has made regarding me in this regard, holding
myself out as an agent, is a damned lie…you know it, he knows
it,  and you can print this response…I’ve had enough of this…
2) My “being advised”  by you about the loan, etc. “for the first time” is
also a damned lie…months prior to having dinner with you,  I had to issue
a press release announcing that the loan wasn’t called due to
the interest payments not having been made.
In addition, every number, every report, including a blaring headline of
your’s which read, “Michael Jackson Will Lose His Catalog in 2008”
proved inaccurate…including your facts and the numbers you arbitrarily
threw out over the years.
Back in 2004 and 2005 I was a bit coy and on June 10th, exhausted; but,
should have said what I’m saying now…then:  Tom Mesereau nor anyone
else had the authority to fire me based on my Agreement, which was
signed by Michael Jackson…the reason I was flown to Europe a week
or two later by Michael Jackson.  You, and others keep reporting it,
knowing it’s a damned lie.
With regards to my taxes…I pled guilty for failure to file income tax
returns for 2008, period…a misdemeanor.  Let me also say this, also
in response to your column, whatever Michael J.Jackson made in Japan, or anywhere else, would be reflected on
his tax returns…not mine.  You want to see my returns…I want
to see yours.

I’ll say one thing about Bain’s email: if Michael Jackson hadn’t died on June 25, 2009 it’s quite possible he would have lost the Beatles catalog and a lot more. At the time of his death, Neverland was in the hands of Colony Capital, and out of his control. Jackson was deeply in debt. For years he’d refused to do anything sensible to solve his financial problems. He was capricious and disloyal, and often acted out like a spoiled child. He went behind his advisors’ backs and made crazy deals that usually ended with lawsuits and reciminations. It’s only since Jackson died, and sensible decisions could be made, that his estate has partially recovered.  

Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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