Friday, June 26, 2009
Final Days: The Mystery of Michael Jackson's Death
By Mike Fleeman
Originally posted Friday June 26, 2009 08:40 AM EDT
It should have been the opportunity of a lifetime for a Michael Jackson fan: a behind-the-scenes invitation to a rehearsal for the superstar's upcoming concert tour in the United Kingdom.
But when the fan got to the stage, she was horrified. "He is a skeleton," she wrote Monday in an email to other Jackson fans. Worse, she said, was seeing her idol surrounded by people she deemed too frightened to say anything. "I have to say: He may die."
Three days later, Jackson, 50, collapsed in his rented Holmby Hills mansion – with his personal physician on the premises. His heart stopped; he wasn't breathing. An ambulance raced him to a hospital just minutes away from his house, but despite another hour of frantic resuscitation efforts, the world had lost one of the most successful artists in music history. The Los Angeles County Coroner will conduct an autopsy, with some results expected as early as Friday, although the findings of other possible tests could take longer.
Some in the entertainment world are utterly shocked at the sudden demise of seasoned entertainer who was, by all accounts, focused on one thing alone: getting ready for a series of 10 comeback shows at London's 02 Arena set to launch next month. Jackson rehearsed at the Staples Center on June 24 in Los Angeles, the day before with "great energy," Grammy executive producer Ken Ehrlich tells PEOPLE. "He wasn't giving it full out. But vocally he had started to really project. I thought he was in great form," who was at the rehearsal.
Jackson had even signed on The Incredible Hulk's Lou Ferrigno as his personal trainer, although the two hadn't worked out together in two weeks.
Yet while many in the entertainment world expressed sadness and shock, a different, more unsettling reaction came from several people close to Jackson and his family, who describe Jackson as unavoidably thin and fragile.
Filmmaker Bryan Michael Stoller, who visited Jackson in April, was shocked by his weight loss. "I hugged him and it was like hugging bones," he tells PEOPLE. "After seeing him, I never thought he would complete the tour."
Says Dr. Firpo Carr, a friend and confidante of Jackson's, "I sensed something was wrong and, quite honestly, I wasn't terribly surprised when I got the news. I would get word from people in his camp that things weren't quite right."
A source close to the singer who didn't want to be identified adds: "Michael hasn't been feeling well. All last week he'd stopped coming out of his house to see his fans. He was doing that every day."
As part of his preparations for the high-stakes UK concert tour, Jackson had been training – hard. He has put in 10-hour rehearsals, a witness says, for the sort of stage spectacle fans had come to expect. Promoters insisted the 50-year-old entertainer was physically ready for the rigors of a full tour. But there was concern among some in his inner circle that Jackson might push too hard: "They didn't want him to overtax himself," family friend Kevin McLin tells PEOPLE. "You look back in history, he never completed all the dates of his shows because he gave so much in each performance – he would go non-stop for two hours."
And on Thursday, even before UCLA doctors declared Jackson dead, family attorney Brian Oxman, who huddled with the grieving family at the hospital, raised the specter of possible abuse of drugs prescribed for the singer's long history of physical ailments. "If you think that the case of Anna Nicole Smith was an abuse, it is nothing in comparison to what we have seen in Michael Jackson's life," Oxman told CNN.
According to the fan at Jackson's rehearsal who tried to raise the alarm among those who adored him, the combination of risk factors seemed dangerously close to claiming its victim.
"We all love Michael really much. We all want to see his shows. We all think about how we will be [in the] first row," the fan wrote earlier in the week. "How will you do all of these things if during the third concert he faints on stage, and if his heart stops during his way to the hospital? How will you feel when you will talk with other fans and will say: We knew he was too skinny to perform?"
• Reporting by CHAMP CLARK, JESSICA HERNDON and LORENZO BENET
Monday, June 22, 2009
Movie Review: The Proposal
The Entertainment Critic Movie Review
In Theatres Now Review
Opened June 19, 2009
By James Myers
Rating: 5 of 10
Director: Anne Fletcher
Writers (WGA): Pete Chiarelli
Sandra Bullock ... Margaret Tate
Ryan Reynolds ... Andrew Paxton
Mary Steenburgen ... Grace Paxton
Craig T. Nelson ... Joe Paxton
Betty White ... Grandma Annie
Denis O'Hare ... Mr. Gilbertson
Malin Akerman ... Gertrude
Oscar Nuñez ... Ramone
Aasif Mandvi ... Bob Spaulding
Michael Nouri ... Chairman Bergen
Michael Mosley ... Chuck
Dale Place ... Jim McKittrick
Alicia Hunt ... Coffee Barista
Alexis Garcia ... Immigration Clerk (as Alexis R. Garcia)
Kortney Adams ... Colden Books Receptionist
Sandra Bullock is back in a romantic comedy, The Proposal. It has been a while since her last one, 2005's "Miss Congeniality 2: Armed and Fabulous”, and judging from the box office this weekend, a record opening for Ms Bullock ($34.1 million dollars) the movie intrigued enough people to make it the number one movie for the weekend. I love Sandra Bullock’s films, but to be completely honest, this film was somewhat disappointing.
The film’s premise is not new. A ball breaking female publicist boss has a problem: she is a foreign national (Canadian?) and has failed to file the proper paperwork, leading to her deportation and job loss. In the midst of discussing this with her boss, she lassoes her male assistant (Ryan Reynolds) and announces that they are getting married. It is an age old premise for a film, and basically ends the same way; that is after several misadventures with his family from his home town in Alaska, she falls for him. She of course confesses that this was just a business deal right in the middle of the wedding, but before saying “I do”. He of course falls in love with her too and of course chases her to get her back. In the interim they are both being pursued by an overly zealous immigration officer, who at the end of the film questions them separately about their love affair with some mildly funny results. Here is my problem with the film: it has been done before (reminds me of a Cary Grant type of film, which by the way was much more original and definitely funnier). Did you see “Green Card” with Gérard Depardieu and Andie MacDowell, which in my opinion was funnier and much more poignant.
Sandra said it herself when asked about romantic comedies, the scripts she was getting "were terrible, they were bad and they weren't funny," she says. "I love my comedy too much to bastardize it with a bad romantic comedy." Here’s hoping that she sticks with this formula in the future.
Movie Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LFDpK9BULCk
Sunday, June 21, 2009
OBAMA’S HEALTH CARE PLAN AND THE AMA
“What makes a great president?” Marty asked him one day. “Well, I think that probably everybody who has been elected president was a great person in some aspect or another.” Barack began. “But what makes a great president, as opposed to a great person, is the juxtaposition of the president’s personal characteristics and strengths with the needs of the American people and the country. And when you are a president who happens to come into the office at that juxtaposition, there’s an environment for you to be a great president.” ‘Some presidents were great individuals with extraordinary talents, but their timing was wrong. The great ones were needed by their nation at that point in history.’ Renegade by Richard Wolfee, pp23-24.
Lost in the shuffle of the events taking place in Iran, last week the President gave a speech to the American Medical Association, and a group of doctors about his national healthcare plan. According to Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar, he heard something he has not heard before…booing. It was not his healthcare plan with a government sponsored health care insurer that was booed but an issue near and dear to all doctors hearts, award limits on jury awards for medical malpractice cases. Somehow doctors have it in their heads that they are not subject to same rules as every other American citizen or specialized, educated, licensed professional (lawyers, accountants and many others) and somehow they fear the awards of juries. The idea behind most damage awards that comes from juries is the concept of compensatory damages, damages to put the injured party back in the position that they would have been in if the negligence act had not occurred; to attempt as closely as we can to force the wrongdoer to comply with the standard of care or to compensate the victim of his carelessness if he/she fails to do so.
If automobile accidents were being considered, then it is easy to accept that the careless party that caused injury should compensate the injured party for his loss. (Thus the mandatory insurance rules for drivers in most if not all of the states in the country). In our system juries makes decisions whether the accused wrongdoer was in fact careless and that this carelessness caused the injury and then and only then what damages are sufficient to compensate the injured. The concept works the same with medical malpractice. Only if the injured party can first convince the jury that the doctor did not comply with the standard of care, and that failure to comply proximately contributed to the plaintiff’s injury, does the question of damages even begin to be addressed. Then in my opinion, it is the jury’s unique responsibility to assess the damages that are appropriate. There were no caps on jury awards of any time contemplated by the writers of the Constitution, and caps on jury awards of any type far less on medical malpractice verdicts, in my way of thinking contradicts the natural process of awarding damages that juries make in any care. My feeling is that this is why the President told this audience up front, as he did during his campaign, that he wouldn’t consider malpractice caps. He is a Constitutional law scholar and that perhaps capping jury awards is unconstitutional as an unacceptable limit on the right to trial by jury.
Mr. Obama has made suggestions of what he does favor mediation and/or alternative to malpractice suits, where hospitals and doctors admit when they have made mistakes, correct them and compensate the injured party for their loss. Most plaintiffs seek an attorney only after they have exhausted every other avenue and usually do so out of desperation. Studies have shown that the mediation approach may work because most doctors do not admit fault, and this is the reason most people file suit.
I think Mr. Obama has to run a fine line in the pursuit of his health care plan and it will require a coalition of forces, including doctors to get it to pass, but I admire his courage and straight forwardness in discussing issues of interest to the AMA.
“Each time an uninsured American sets foot in an emergency room with no way to reimburse the hospital for care, the cost is handed over to every American family as a bill of about $1,000. It is reflected in higher taxes, higher premiums, higher tax bill costs. It is a hidden tax that will be cut as we insure all American. So, when you hear the naysayer’s claim that I’m trying to bring about government health care plan, they are not telling the truth.
“What I am trying to do with a public option or help to do is affordable healthcare within the reach of millions of Americans.”
I think this is a wise option also. Not just a single payer option, but a government sponsored health care program that those who do not have insurance can choose; millions of people that do not or cannot afford health insurance may finally have an option.
The long and the short of this blog is this: I am glad and proud to have President Obama as my president; Wolfee is right. He is the right man, for our times in that right place; a man who understands the value of trial by jury and necessity of a national health care option.