Home Celebrity Review: New Michael Jackson Book Misses Great Stuff, Cobbles Together Old News

Part 1: If Randall Sullivan’s 700 page book about Michael Jackson, called “Untouchable,” had footnotes on its pages it would look like a mathematics printout. So Sullivan instead simply wrote his book, then tacked on a couple hundred pages of ‘chapter notes’ and explanations for how he mixed together thousands of pieces of previously published pieces about Jackson to make them look original. And got most of it wrong.

As it is, this part of “Untouchable” is more interesting than the book. It’s where I found  my own name cited at least 87 times in the book--and not always favorably. (He does say some nice things about me, for which I am certainly grateful.) I don’t know Randall Sullivan, I’ve never spoken to him or met him. He’s never tried to contact me. I’m sure I’m not the only person from whom he’s constructed his story. David Jones of the UK’s Daily Mail will find a lot of his work in there.

And 87 times isn’t enough. He’s made it seem like he reported a lot, but it’s just noted at the back, separately. Not credited to me: Michael Jackson’s prosecutors throwing a victory party before the verdict came in. Here’s the original story, which the Drudge Report picked up from me on June 11, 2005 as its top story with a flashing ambulance siren: http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,159140,00.html

Indeed so much of “Untouchable” comes out of my old stories, reading the book was like re-encountering long lost friends. Sullivan is very odd about the 2005 molestation trial because he wasn’t there. And strangely, he does quote Fox News’s Wendy Murphy, who was a commentator but didn’t report on the trial. I was in Santa Maria, California for months but never met her. But Fox had Trace Gallagher and lots of good people on the ground whom I saw often.

Because he wasn’t at the trial, Sullivan’s missed two of the funniest moments. At one point Janet Arvizo, the crazy mother who accused Michael Jackson of molesting her son, told defense lawyer Tom Mesereau on the stand that she thought Michael was going to kidnap her kids and take them away “in a hot air balloon.” It was one of Mesereau’s more stunning moments. And it’s too bad Sullivan didn’t get it since he lavishes praise on Mesereau for speaking with him. Mesereau’s dazzling performance in that courtroom still has not been adequately portrayed.

This is from my trial notes, and the printed transcript:

Mesereau to Janet Arvizo: Now, you told the sheriffs at one point you thought your family might disappear in a hot air balloon from Neverland, correct?

Witness:  I made them aware that they had a variety of ways of getting my children out and that was one of  them.

Also, Sullivan, I guess, never actually saw the outtakes that Jackson’s own videographer had of the Martin Bashir interview. Michael, drunk on wine from a Coke can, tells Bashir he wanted to throw a celebrity going away party for Bubbles the Chimp. Lassie wouldn’t be able to attend, Michael said, because he was probably dead. The press saw that video four times in the courtroom, and we even threw our own “Celebrity Animal Party” one night. It was the high point of a long, pointless four months.

More in Part 2, coming up…


Share and Enjoy !

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.
10 replies to this post
  1. The title ‘Untouchable’ is spot on, for me, this book will be untouchable! I can hardly believe it that someone who writes for a music celebrity magazine would waste his time dishing out all the same old rubbish that any knowledgeable Michael Jackson supporter would recognise straight away as having been trashed years ago. This sad individual should ‘look in the mirror’ and make a change! He is just hopping on the bandwagon again like so many others recently, who have tried, and failed to make money off the great historic name of Michael Jackson. It may have worked once but it really is too late for that now.

  2. This book will end up in “used” book bins, comfortably tucked among the likes of Diane Dimond and Ian Halperin. Knowing the ridiculous and completely FALSE story about prosthetic noses in the Rolling Stone book about Mr. Jackson, my radar sensed that this isn’t a legitimate effort but just a romp in the “tabloid” bounce house!

    Mr. Sullivan, you’d be better off writing a “self-help” book. It might wake you up to your own foibles and short-comings.

  3. Sullivan uses useless and easily discreditable sources for this book including mostly tabloid junk sensationalism media bullshit from the last 15-20 years about Mr Michael Jackson! No wonder it’s garbage!

    Anything he says/writes is easily linked to internet research sites that could dispel the lies in seconds about MJ! This is clearly a case of a low-life bullying little coward stuck behind his desk writing a book about a dead man who cannot defend himself against any of the crap said low-life coward comes out with!

    Sullivan writes this book simply because he can get away with it and the likes of ‘Jeremy Kyle’ show tabloid munching chavs, and/or USA trailer park inbred hillbillies can hungrily devour and gullibly believe EVERY SINGLE WORD!


  4. Yo, Friedman, this is NOT ABOUT YOU and Randall is a skank. I sensed it when everyone kept quiet for months about the content of the book, whether it was going to be positive or negative MJ, whether it would offer any new info or rehash the same tabloid trash. When it came out in Vanity Fair – the ultimate rag – then it became a no brainer. When I read that Randall is an editor/writer for Rolling Stone, it was the final nail in the proverbial coffin.

  5. All Michael’s fans, domestic and international, won’t be purchasing Randall Sullivan’s book. The fans caught on to Sullivan’s game to make money off Michael from this book so Sullivan was blacklisted over 3 months ago. Sullivan won’t be making any money from Michael’s fans and it’s doubtful non-fans would purchase the book either.

  6. Leave Michael alone, all these people coming out of the woodwork since he’s been gone and writing books about him to make money off him. Pick on someone else now! MJJ 1000% INNOCENT.

  7. Comment se fait-il que cette folle ne soit pas en prison? Ainsi que cette crapule de merde de journaliste de Bashir qui a trahi la bonne foi de Michael? C’est dégueulasse!

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.