Besides FOX, stations like VH1, E! and ABC aired the Living with Michael Jackson, Take Two documentary and the Michael Jackson Home Movies. The fans that had been looking forward to it were very pleased by how the biography turned out. They thought it was absolutely worth waiting for. And it was especially refreshing to see that their e-mails, letters and calls made such a difference. The distorted version might have been leaked, but it didn't mean much since Court TV was beginning to become tabloid anyway. And only the tabloids made money off of it. However, those two specials did not receive good reviews from everyone. There were some people who felt they were too biased because of the fact that they were positive. They accused Michael of fraud, saying that he used underhanded tactics to see to it he would be portrayed in a favorable light. They also believed that he had videos of him behaving inappropriately and that he had omitted the footage on purpose to make himself look good. In other words, they were calling him a liar. A tabloid reporter named Maureen Orth described him as arrogant, narcissistic, vindictive, childish and deceptive. "He is so full of himself,' she was quoted as saying. ‘He refuses to take responsibility for his actions and that will be his undoing.' The calls and investigating from social services did not cease, either. In fact, the psychiatrists were so persistent and the situation had gotten so bad that Michael was very cautious when answering the phone and the door. He advised his staff to do the same.
Even though Prince, Blanket and Paris were very young, they could tell there was something bad going on and that their father was upset, in spite of not being able to understand the situation. It was truly a nightmare for Kerri, Nikki, and Mariann, too. Kerri and Nikki had a hard time concentrating on their classes that day, which meant their schoolwork was being affected. They were glad that there was one class less, since their lecturer was planning his mother's funeral. And they were tempted to go back to their normal arrangements and stay by their off campus apartment so they wouldn't have to deal with the hoopla, but that would be too selfish. Besides, what if he needed them around in case he wanted someone to talk to? They were inseparable with him and missed him when they were at their place. So when school was done for the day, they went straight back to the ranch. Luckily, there wasn't anyone or anything suspicious.
It angered them so much that Michael was being investigated like a criminal because of disgusting, malicious rumors about him, and they would not be listening to the nonsense any longer. He already had enough stress in his life; he didn't need this, too.
The two sisters knew that Michael had his hands full preparing his defense for the civil case, so they decided that one of them would set the record straight about this. They were in Nikki's room, discussing which one of them would speak out.
"I think you should do it," Nikki told Kerri. "You are a better speaker when it comes to confidence."
"But you are better at expressing yourself, when you put your mind to it," Kerri pointed out.
"Oh?" Enough people told Nikki that she was good at speaking from the heart, but she didn't really think so. She would admit, though, that when she was fed up with something, she had the tendency to use that as motivation and it fueled her anger. "Do you really think so?"
"Sure I do. Don't be so down on yourself."
"Well, all right. I'll see what I can do."
"That's the spirit." Kerri left the room so her younger sister could work in peace. Nikki brushed a long strand of her jet-black hair back from her face and proceeded to ponder what she would say in her statement. She was hoping that she would be able to catch up on some songwriting for the J-Pop album she and her sister were doing, but instead she was thinking of what she would say to set the record straight. She resented having her plans changed. It would have been much preferable if her sister had been the one making the statement and not her.
The eighteen year old usually had to write her thoughts down when she had to do any type of speaking events, so that was what she did. She wrote down everything that was on her heart. She read it over, corrected any errors and then copied the speech over on another sheet of paper. It read:
For the last two weeks, there have been falsehoods concocted by the tabloids about our father. The rumors seemed to have originated from the previous version of the Martin Bashir interview that was inaccurate. These accusations are saying that our father has molested my sister and I, as well as our younger adopted siblings, and as a result, he is being treated like a criminal. These accusations are absolutely false. Kerri and I have had him as a family member for over six years and he has showed us nothing but love. Same for Prince, Paris and Blanket. If anything, he is AFRAID of the thought of them being in that type of danger, so he protects them at all costs. He saved us from living a lonely life because our parents died when we were little. There were times we slept in his bedroom because we had nightmares of being kidnapped, but we slept in the bed below his bed. To cut a long story short, his bed is on the first floor and the bed we slept in was on the second floor. He is such a wonderful father and has certainly been a great one to us, and he treats the disadvantaged children who come over like his own relatives, even though they are not related. For this reason the idea that he has acted inappropriately with us or any other child is outrageous and ludicrous. These allegations have hurt our father immensely and the entire turn of events is a nightmare for him and us. I am kindly asking you to please stop the false accusations and listen to the truth with open minds. Thank you.
She read it over again, and thought it was excellent, if she did say so herself. She knew she was taking a very huge risk. She wondered what her sister would think. She went to go find her. Kerri was practicing on her new guitar. She couldn't thank Michael enough for helping her to have a new one much sooner than she thought. She thought she would have to murder Star for what he did. Seeing that her sister was probably finished, she decided to take a break from her practicing. She placed the guitar aside.
"Hey sis. Let's see your speech," said Kerri cheerfully. "I am sure that it is wonderful."
"Here." Nikki handed Kerri the sheet, and Kerri perused it carefully, and then read it again. When she was done, she was grinning.
Nikki was puzzled. Did her sister like her message that much? "What do you think? You like it?"
"Are you kidding? I love it! "
"Yes! You've expressed yourself so well."
"Oh, I'm so glad you like it. You think this will be enough to stop the madness?"
"If that and father's law suit doesn't, I don't know what will."
"You got that right." She was pretty sure that one of the tabloid reporters might criticize her, but she didn't care. If they didn't want to open their eyes to the truth, it just meant that something was wrong with them. She went to find Michael's personal videographer and cameramen so this message could be filmed.
Meanwhile, Michael was meeting with his civil attorney at the law firm he worked. He had finally completed his paperwork for the suit and he was now preparing his defense of what he would testify. He was so glad to be done with the paperwork. Filing it was such a drawn out, tedious process. Of course, he was well aware of the fact that there was more yet to come. The court fight was just beginning. His appearance in court was set tentatively for the 27th, which was just eight days away. This could be a very brief civil case or one as long as the case that took place nearly a decade ago. The singer wasn't thrilled about the thought of a long civil trial. Having that one court hearing and an out of court settlement was much more preferable at this point, especially considering that he had other obstacles to deal with. As for the spider bites, the healing process was steady, but he still had moments where the agony was excruciating...this was one of them. He was told to say if he needed a break for any reason, which he would do. But for now, he was determined to sit there and bear it for as long as he could.
"Mr. Jackson, what made you agree to let Martin Bashir have unprecedented access into your life to do this documentary?"
"Um...well, it was because of a biography he did with Lady Diana that was released in '95. He had showed me a letter from her thanking him for the biography and as you know, I shared a bond with Lady Diana. I figured that if she approved of the documentary made of her then that meant he was a respected journalist. Also, he promised me that the purpose of this documentary would be to free me from the '93 allegations, to set the record straight. " It was so painful for him to recall, knowing that Martin Bashir lied to him and betrayed him in one of the worst ways possible.
"Did you suspect that Mr. Bashir would break his promise?"
"No, I did not. I really thought that this documentary would be about the International Children's Holiday that I wanted."
"I see." It wasn't taking long for Carl to see the picture. It certainly did sound like there was treachery involved. True, he would have to view both the edited version of the biography and the rebuttal to come to that conclusion, but so far the story seemed plausible. He asked Michael more questions, which were answered quite graciously. Talking about it made him feel uncomfortable. He hoped this court battle would be over and done with so that he could put it behind him. The attorney took notes as Michael answered his questions.
"So when did you begin to suspect signs of deceit on Mr. Bashir's part?"
"Well, after the documentary was filmed, my assistant had done some research on Martin and discovered that he was reprimanded for unfair journalistic practices, and warned me to watch for any signs of it when watching the preview. Although I never suspected anything, I decided to keep his warnings in mind because with journalists, you never know, and after I had been deceived in the past, I made a resolution to be more cautious."
That was all Carl needed to know. The rest he could figure out from watching the documentaries...that is, if his client brought them.
Michael hated to interrupt the interrogation, but he could take the pain no more. "Carl? Can we take a break? My leg hurts."
"All right. The meeting is over for now. Do you have a copy of the documentary with you?"
"Yes. Both the edited version and the outtakes." He handed his lawyer a manila envelope that contained the videos. He stood up rather stiffly, and gave Carl a handshake. "See you later. Thank you for all your help."
"The pleasure is mine. Until next time, then."
Michael hobbled out of his attorney's office. His bodyguards Bill, Javon and Mike were waiting for him. All three of them had grim looks on their faces, which he didn't like the looks of at all. He knew that when his bodyguards wore such an expression that meant they had bad news or at least something to say that their boss wouldn't want to hear. "What's the matter, Bill?"
"Outside is a nuthouse. Paparazzi and reporters. Only this time, it is much worse than usual."
Michael was horrified by that. He wondered if they knew about what happened to him a little over two weeks ago. If they did, no doubt that they were probably there to write an outlandish story about his condition or take some pictures for the tabloids so they could poke fun of how sickly he looked. Or maybe they were there for something else, like to try and get the buzz on the story of the meeting with his lawyer. Great. Just when he thought the press hype couldn't get any worse, he was proven wrong. And what's worse was that trying to avoid the paparazzi and press was virtually impossible, given that without any walking aids, his mobility at the moment equaled to that of someone who suffered from severe arthritis, at best. He really considered using a wheelchair next time."Oh my God, how are we going to get out of here?"
"Exactly what I am wondering. Unfortunately an alternative exit won't magically appear before us."
Michael was still making headlines on the news. Later that afternoon, the top story on him was about the meeting with his lawyer who was helping him take legal action against Martin Bashir, and an analysis on Nikki's videotaped message. This top story was on Issues with Jane Velez-Mitchell that afternoon. Sierra was on her couch, watching this. She had made a vow to never watch media news again, but she decided to make an exception this time because she was interested in hearing what her best friend Nikki had to say. She hoped that Nikki would be able to shut up all those tabloid and biased reporters once and for all. And she would be very angry if they didn't show the message without selective editing.
"Welcome to Issues tonight everybody; I'm Jane Velez-Mitchell. We have new breaking stories on Michael Jackson today, including an exclusive video message from one of Jackson's adopted daughters giving a plea! You won't wanna miss it. My fantastic panel is here with me to discuss these bombshells."
At the spa, Mariann was massaging a female basketball player who had sore shoulders and the news about Nikki speaking just happened to catch her attention. She applauded the young lady for standing up for Michael. She went back to doing the massage so her boss wouldn't come in to yell at her for fooling around. She couldn't wait to get off in the next half hour so she could spend some quality time with Michael and the children.
"Tonight on Issues, we've just received news that the King of Pop was shown meeting with his lawyer for the civil case. It seems that he has become determined, aggressive and relentless in his pending legal battle against British journalist Martin Bashir. His lawyer had been interviewing him earlier this afternoon. Jim Moret, what do you make of Jackson's unequivocal attitude towards this case? Also, do you feel that his claims are valid enough to have a case?"
A man with graying hair answered, "Well, judging from outtake footage that was shown last week, the evidence does have potential to be used for a civil case. However, Jackson will have to make sure that his defense is solid in order to prove that unfair practice is truly involved. I am impressed and surprised that Michael is willing to take the risks, knowing all the time and money that has to be put into the suit and the judge can dismiss the case if he or she feels that there is no merit."
"Yes, well, best of luck to him with that. It is a grueling process so he'd better recover from whatever ailment he currently has." The nutmeg haired woman was referring to recent pictures of Michael using crutches and looking slightly unwell. "Gloria Allred, what do you think of this?"
Gloria, who had been criticizing Michael's behavior and parenting skills in the recent months, replied, "Jackson is acting like a petulant child who cannot take responsibility for his actions. It does not surprise me that he is lashing out and accusing Martin the way he is. However, he has no leg to stand on and he has no case."
Sierra was fuming when she heard that. She never liked the attorney to begin with, but after hearing such an attack, her hatred for her grew. She almost turned off the TV, but she still wanted to hear what Nikki had to say.
Long time Jackson family friend Firpo Carr, who was also a part of Velez-Mitchell's analysis team, thought Gloria was going too far as well. "Give him a break. You know that Michael doesn't generally take legal action even if it is warranted, so the fact that he is this time means that the slandering has gone much too far."
Jane did not want an argument to ensue, no matter what the differing views were. "Down, you two! Let's hear the message that this young woman has put together regarding her father. It is truly startling and heartfelt. Take a listen." She rolled the video, and Nikki appeared on the screen. She addressed the innuendo and scandals that had been circulating over the past two weeks, and spoke of what type of parent Michael had been to her, Kerri, Prince, Paris and Blanket, She dispelled the rumors and insisted that they stop.
"I can tell that Nikki genuinely loves her father very much and that her message was from the heart. And it is only human nature for her to defend him in circumstances like these," said Jane, when the video was over. "What do you think, Jim?"
"I absolutely agree with you. By giving this message she is showing that she is not afraid to speak up. Also this shows Michael Jackson in a different light."
Gloria, however, did not feel the same. She was just as cynical as she was with the other news pertaining to the superstar. "Maybe she does respect him as a parent, but I still feel uncomfortable. The message seemed scripted and effusive, almost as if Jackson fed her those lines. Either that or she is very blind to his true nature and is very naïve. "
That last comment by Gloria was the breaking point for Sierra. She thought the speech was well done and was proud of her friend for having the guts to speak out, but she was so irate that she wanted to strangle the woman. Not only did she attack Michael for the last time, but she implied that Nikki's emotions were not genuine. That couldn't be further from the truth. No one disrespected her friends like that and got away with it. She was so glad that her little brother wasn't with her. She furiously switched the channel. She had to; otherwise she would have ended up throwing her television set out the window. That would not be a pretty sight.
(At the spa)
Mariann was getting ready to leave work so she could go to the ranch. She, too, was angered by the excoriations on Michael, but she was positive that maybe the law suit would be a warning to all of the publicity hounds.