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    Friday, June 26, 2009

    Reuters - Drug use key question in Michael Jackson's sudden death

    This article was sent to you from bombastic4000@yahoo.com, who uses Reuters Mobile Site to get news and information on the go. To access Reuters on your mobile phone, go to:
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    Drug use key question in Michael Jackson's sudden death

    Friday, Jun 26, 2009 5:21PM UTC

    By Mary Milliken and Laura Isensee

    LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - One day after Michael Jackson's sudden death, speculation turned to what killed the 50-year-old "King of Pop" on the cusp of a long-awaited comeback concert series.

    A family attorney said on Friday he had been concerned that Jackson's use of prescription drugs for dancing-related injuries would eventually prove fatal and that the entertainer's inner circle had ignored his warnings.

    A Jackson family member told celebrity website TMZ.com the singer had been given an injection of the painkiller Demerol before he went into full cardiac arrest at his rental home around midday on Thursday. TMZ soon after broke the news that Jackson had died at a Los Angeles hospital.

    The Los Angeles County Coroner's office said the autopsy would begin Friday morning, but it could take six to eight weeks to determine a cause of death, which will likely have to wait for the return of toxicology tests. Those tests will determine if Jackson had any drugs, alcohol or prescription medications in his system.

    LEGIONS OF FANS

    At dawn on Hollywood Boulevard, fans gathered at Jackson's star on the Walk of Fame to honor the former child prodigy who became one of the best-selling pop artists of all time before descending into a strange and reclusive lifestyle amid accusations of child molestation.

    "His music was the soundtrack of my childhood," said Tassa Hampton, 32, as she knelt to light a white votive candle amid a growing pile of flowers and posters. "I didn't realize what a loss it was until he was gone."

    Jackson's passing was front-page news around the world as airwaves filled with his greatest hits from "Thriller" to "Billie Jean" and social networking sites were bombarded with messages and tributes from fans and musicians.

    "It's so sad and shocking," former Beatle Paul McCartney said. "I feel privileged to have hung out and worked with Michael. He was a massively talented boy man with a gentle soul. His music will be remembered forever."

    The family has yet to announce details of funeral services. Jackson's body was flown by helicopter from the hospital to the coroner's office late Thursday.

    Lawyer Brian Oxman, a spokesman for the Jackson family, told CBS's "The Early Show" on Friday that he had been concerned about the prescription drugs that Jackson took due to injuries suffered while performing.

    "I had warned everyone that I could warn and I told them that one day, Michael Jackson is going to wake up dead, which is a very odd way of putting it," Oxman said.

    "I do not want to point fingers at anyone because I want to hear what the toxicology report says and the coroner says but the plain fact of the matter is that Michael Jackson had prescription drugs at his disposal at all times," he said.

    Detectives from the Los Angeles Police Department's Robbery Homicide division searched Jackson's home in the upscale Holmby Hills neighborhood of Los Angeles at the behest of Chief William Bratton.

    The doctor who lived at Michael Jackson's house is missing, TMZ reported. A law enforcement source told TMZ that the doctor, whose name is not known, gave Jackson an injection before he died.

    Facing a battered reputation and a mountain of debt which The Wall Street Journal reported ran to $500 million, Jackson had spent the last two months rehearsing for the London concerts, including Wednesday at the huge Staples Center arena, home to the Los Angeles Lakers basketball team.

    A complex process began in London to refund ticketholders, including people who bought tickets for sell-out shows from unauthorized dealers. A pair of "VIP" passes was offered on e-Bay recently for 16,000 pounds (over $25,000).

    In death, Jackson's music enjoyed a commercial renaissance that had eluded him for years. His songs surged to the top 15 slots on online retailer Amazon.com Inc's best-selling albums within hours.

    TAINTED TALENT?

    Jackson dominated the charts in the 1980s and was one of the most successful entertainers of all time, with a lifetime sales tally estimated at 750 million records, 13 Grammy Awards and several seminal music videos.

    "Michael was and will remain one of the greatest entertainers that ever lived," said Motown Records founder Berry Gordy, Jackson's first label boss. "He was exceptional, artistic and original. He gave the world his heart and soul through his music."

    Jackson's reputation as a singer and dancer was overshadowed in recent years by his increasingly abnormal appearance and bizarre lifestyle, which included his friendship with a chimp and a preference for the company of children.

    He named his estate in the central California foothills Neverland Valley Ranch, in tribute to J.M. Barrie's Peter Pan stories, and built amusement park rides and a petting zoo.

    Jackson was twice accused of molesting young boys and was charged in 2003 with child sexual abuse. He became even more reclusive following his 2005 acquittal and vowed he would never again live at Neverland.

    Despite reports of Jackson's ill health, the promoters of the London shows, AEG Live, said in March that Jackson passed a 4-1/2 hour physical examination with independent doctors.

    Jackson was born on August 29, 1958, in Gary, Indiana, the seventh of nine children, and first performed with his brothers as a member of the Jackson 5.

    His 1982 album "Thriller" yielded seven top-10 singles. The album sold 21 million copies in the United States and at least 27 million internationally.

    The following year, he unveiled his signature "moonwalk" dance move, gliding across the stage and setting off an instant trend, while performing "Billie Jean" during an NBC special.

    In 1994, Jackson married Elvis Presley's only child, Lisa Marie, but the marriage ended in divorce in 1996.

    Jackson married Debbie Rowe the same year and had two children, before splitting in 1999, and he later had another child with an unidentified surrogate mother.

    He is survived by three children named Prince Michael I, Paris Michael and Prince Michael II, known for a brief public appearance when his father displayed him to fans in Germany by holding him over the railing of a hotel balcony.

    (Editing by Mohammad Zargham)

    Reuters - "Transformers" in high gear already

    This article was sent to you from bombastic4000@yahoo.com, who uses Reuters Mobile Site to get news and information on the go. To access Reuters on your mobile phone, go to:
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    "Transformers" in high gear already

    Friday, Jun 26, 2009 2:21AM UTC

    By Gregg Kilday

    LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - Debuting Wednesday to an estimated $60.6 million, "Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen" already has begun its triumphal rounding of the box office bases that should see it set a record or two by weekend's end.

    Once Michael Bay's sequel to the 2007 hit based on the Hasbro toy line staked out the upcoming weekend, there was never any question that it would dominate overall sales. Competitors steered clear of the date, with only Warner Bros. fielding the feel-good weepie "My Sister's Keeper" in a modest bit of counterprogramming.

    So the new "Transformers" -- machine-tooled with the help of a budget said to have approached $200 million -- isn't really competing against the other current releases: The Paramount release is out to do battle against the record book.

    If Paramount's first-day sales estimate holds, the sequel already can claim the distinction of the biggest Wednesday opening ever. It vaulted ahead of 2007's "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix," which bowed to a one-day gross of $44.2 million.

    It came unexpectedly close to challenging "The Dark Knight," which holds the records for biggest opening-day gross and best single-day gross: It collected $67.2 million when it opened last year on a Friday. And it squeezed ahead of 2007's "Spider-Man 3," which debuted to $59.8 million, which had enjoyed runner-up status to "Knight" in the best single opening-day list.

    "Transformers'" accelerated takeoff was turbo-charged with the help of $16 million from midnight screenings, included in that $60.6 million opening number.

    Entering the weekend, the Paramount/DreamWorks co-production -- which is looking to draw in a wide audience base with the help of its fast-rising stars, Shia LaBeouf and Megan Fox -- looks on track to surpass the debut of the first "Transformers," which opened on a Monday evening and collected $155.4 million in its first 6-1/2 days. By the close of business Sunday, the sequel probably will have passed that mark and in just its first five days.

    In doing so, it also would overshadow 2004's "Spider-Man 2," which holds the record for the best Wednesday-through-Sunday opening with $152.4 million.

    "Transformers" still would have a hard time challenging "Dark Knight" for the best five-day gross of all time, $203.8 million. "Dark Knight" was a hit with the fans and critics. Not so "Transformers," which as of Thursday had a low-ball 22 percent approval rating at Rottentomatoes.com.

    But Bay's movies have never depended on critics. During the Friday-to-Sunday portion of its debut, the first "Transformers" pulled in $70.5 million. If its sequel maintains its momentum, it will best that number, attracting $80 million-$90 million and possibly more as it heads toward a five-day gross of at least $150 million-$175 million.

    The holdovers at the multiplex will have to settle for doing business in "Transformers'" shadow. Disney's rom-com "The Proposal," last weekend's top grosser, Warners' breakout comedy "The Hangover" and Disney/Pixar's animated "Up" should all move down a notch, as they register numbers in the high-teen millions.

    "Sister's Keeper," starring Cameron Diaz in the tale of a family dealing with one daughter's leukemia, is aiming to lure older female moviegoers from the "Transformers" juggernaut. One of its selling points is that it's directed by Nick Cassavetes, who directed "The Notebook," a leggy, summer sleeper. "Keeper," though, is probably looking at a gross around the $10 million mark for its opening weekend.

    For the handful of moviegoers who turn a deaf ear to "Transformers," the specialty arena will host several new titles.

    Miramax will present Stephen Frears' period romantic drama "Cheri," starring Michelle Pfeiffer, Kathy Bates and Rupert Friend.

    Roadside Attractions may benefit from the world's focus on events in Iran as it releases Cyrus Nowrasteh's "The Stoning of Soraya M.," which examines the plight of one Iranian woman.

    And Summit Entertainment introduces Kathryn Bigelow's Iraq-set "The Hurt Locker," a critical hit on the festival circuit, in four theaters in New York and Los Angeles. On Rottentomatoes.com, that film's approval rating had reached an enthusiastic 97 percent on Thursday.

    (Editing by Dean Gooodman at Reuters)

    Reuters - Mystery surrounds Michael Jackson's sudden death

    This article was sent to you from bombastic4000@yahoo.com, who uses Reuters Mobile Site to get news and information on the go. To access Reuters on your mobile phone, go to:
    http://mobile.reuters.com

    Mystery surrounds Michael Jackson's sudden death

    Friday, Jun 26, 2009 12:41PM UTC

    By Dan Whitcomb and Bob Tourtellotte

    LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - One day after Michael Jackson's sudden death, speculation was already turning on Friday to what killed the 50-year-old "King of Pop" just weeks before his long-awaited series of comeback concerts.

    Jackson, a former child star who became one of the best-selling pop artists of all time before a descending into a strange and reclusive lifestyle, died on Thursday afternoon at a Los Angeles hospital, where he had been rushed in full cardiac arrest after collapsing at his nearby rental home.

    His passing was front page news around the world, airwaves were filled with his greatest hits from "Thriller" to "Billie Jean," social networking sites were bombarded with messages and tributes from fans and musicians continued to pour in.

    "It's so sad and shocking," said former Beatle Paul McCartney. "I feel privileged to have hung out and worked with Michael. He was a massively talented boy man with a gentle soul. His music will be remembered forever."

    Few details were known about the circumstances surrounding Jackson's death, but the entertainer was reportedly unconscious and not breathing by the time he arrived at UCLA Medical Center, and doctors were unable to revive him.

    His body was flown by helicopter from the hospital to the coroner's office late on Thursday.

    Brian Oxman, a spokesman for the Jackson family, told CNN on Thursday the family had been concerned about his health and had tried in vain to take care of him for months.

    "Michael appeared at rehearsals a couple of times, he was very seriously trying to be able to do those rehearsals," Oxman said of Jackson's preparations for a series of 50 concerts that were scheduled to begin in London in July.

    "His use of medications had gotten in the way, his injuries which he had sustained performing, where he had broken a vertebrae and he had broken his leg from a fall on the stage, were getting in the way," Oxman told CNN.

    Authorities have scheduled an autopsy for Friday. But they cautioned it could take weeks to determine a cause of death, which will likely have to wait for the return of toxicology tests. Those tests will determine if Jackson had any drugs, alcohol or prescription medications in his system.

    Detectives from the Los Angeles Police Department's Robbery Homicide division searched Jackson's home in the upscale Holmby Hills neighborhood of Los Angeles at the behest of Chief William Bratton. But they called the investigation an "every day" event.

    TAINTED TALENT?

    Jackson dominated the charts in the 1980s and is considered one of the most successful entertainers of the past century, with a lifetime sales tally estimated at 750 million records, 13 Grammy Awards and several seminal music videos to his name.

    "Michael was and will remain one of the greatest entertainers that ever lived," said Motown Records founder Berry Gordy, Jackson's first label boss.

    "He was exceptional, artistic and original. He gave the world his heart and soul through his music."

    But Jackson's reputation as a singer and dancer was overshadowed in recent years by his increasingly abnormal appearance, and bizarre lifestyle, which included his friendship with a chimp and a preference for the company of children.

    He named his estate in the central California foothills Neverland Valley Ranch, in tribute to the J.M. Barrie's Peter Pan stories, and filled it with amusement park rides and a petting zoo.

    Jackson was twice accused of molesting young boys and was charged in 2003 with child sexual abuse. He became even more reclusive following his 2005 acquittal and vowed he would never again live at Neverland.

    Facing a battered reputation and mountain of debts the Wall Street Journal reported ran to $500 million, Jackson had spent the last two months rehearsing for the London concerts, including Wednesday night at the huge Staples Center arena, home to the Los Angeles Lakers basketball team.

    Despite reports of Jackson's ill-health, the promoters of the London shows, AEG Live, said in March Jackson passed a 4-1/2 hour physical examination with independent doctors.

    "I can't stop crying over the sad news," Madonna said in a statement. "I have always admired Michael Jackson. The world has lost one of the greats but his music will live on forever."

    Jackson was born on August 29, 1958, in Gary, Indiana, the seventh of nine children and first performed with his brothers as a member of the Jackson 5.

    His 1982 album "Thriller" yielded seven top-10 singles. The album sold 21 million copies in the United States and at least 27 million internationally.

    The following year, he unveiled his signature "moonwalk" dance move, gliding across the stage and setting off an instant trend, while performing "Billie Jean" during an NBC special.

    In 1994, Jackson married Elvis Presley's only child, Lisa Marie, but the marriage ended in divorce in 1996.

    "I'm so very sad and confused with every emotion possible. ... This is such a massive loss on so many levels, words fail me," Presley said in statement.

    Jackson married Debbie Rowe the same year and had two children, before splitting in 1999, and he later had another child with an unidentified surrogate mother.

    He is survived by three children named Prince Michael I, Paris Michael and Prince Michael II, known for his brief public appearance when his father held him over the railing of a hotel balcony, causing widespread criticism.

    (Editing by Dean Goodman, Anthony Boadle and Matthew Jones)

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