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The Michael Jackson Watch

Your guide to pop music's biggest thriller

December 29, 2003 12:00 AM ET

Just two days after being charged with seven counts of child molestation, Michael Jackson held a huge party at his Neverland Ranch over the weekend. The pop singer invited more than 600 guests for a "homecoming" event and concert taped for inclusion in a television special Jackson is trying to peddle to a major network. The "You Are Not Alone" party -- named for a song written by R. Kelly for Jackson's 1995 HIStory album -- was attended by performers such as MC Hammer, Nick and Aaron Carter, comedian Eddie Griffin and tennis star Serena Williams . . .

Jackson was counseled by an unlikely source at the soiree: Darryl Strawberry. The troubled former baseball star reportedly ministered to the singer during a weekend trip Neverland . . .

Though DA Thomas Sneddon confirmed during Jackson's charging on Thursday that he had agreed to let the pop star travel to England over the holidays to perform at two previously scheduled events, British Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott said he was puzzled by the trip, which was to last from December 20th to January 6th. "I must confess I was a little bit surprised that someone in America can be released from their [bail] condition of not traveling abroad in order to launch a CD," Prescott said in a BBC interview. "I wonder whether that would have happened to an ordinary person who said, 'I want to go to visit my mum'" . . .

On Monday, Jackson's spokesperson, Stuart Backerman, revealed that the singer is considering delaying the trip. Sneddon quickly responded with a faxed letter to Jackson attorney Mark Geragos requesting the return of Jackson's passport if the trip was off or written proof that the promotional jaunt was still on . . .

Celebrity Justice reported that child welfare officials in Santa Barbara are launching an investigation and checking on the welfare of Jackson's three children.

Allegations that Jackson was mishandled while in police custody have been denied by officials and Jackson's legal team, but Jermaine Jackson told Larry King that his brother's shoulder was dislocated and that he had bruises on his arms following his arrest on November 20th. The elder Jackson brother also said that Michael was locked in a portable toilet for thirty minutes during his booking and asked, "How do you like the smell in there?" . . .

In the same interview, Geragos claimed that he'd been threatened for representing Jackson and that a pipe bomb was recently found inside a portable toilet being used by construction workers outside his Los Angeles home . . .

Gossip columnist Cindy Adams reported that Jackson had converted to Islam and joined the Nation of Islam during a shake up of his personal staff. Brother Jermaine converted in 1989 . . .

The next day, Geragos also told Larry King that the report of Jackson's conversion was planted by the PR firm hired by Sneddon's office as part of a ploy to play "the race card." He alleged that the plot included the leaking of a rumor that famed defense attorney Johnnie Cochran would be replacing Geragos on the case; both allegations were denied by Tellem Worldwide's head of PR, Susan Tellem, who said she was "baffled" by the claim . . .

Jackson's arraignment date has been pushed back from January 9th to January 16th as a result of scheduling issues, according to Sneddon . . .

Just days after Jackson was charged with molestation, his label, Sony, pulled the plug on a reported $850,000 ad campaign to push his Number Ones album, according to British media reports. Jackson was also yanked from his gig as the celebrity spokesperson for the annual Harrods January sale in London and replaced by actress Jennifer Love Hewitt.

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