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The Charger Bulletin

The King Is Back

by Dave Iannacone | November 10, 2010

It’s been almost a year and a half since the passing of the King of Pop, Michael Jackson, but the material he left behind is keeping him more alive than ever. After the s

The official poster for Cirque du Soleil’s “Michael Jackson: The Immortal World Tour.”

uccessful This Is It film and accompanying soundtrack released a year ago, the releases coming out in time for the Christmas market are going to be more exciting than ever.

The first of these releases, arriving on November 22, is a 3-disc DVD set entitled Michael Jackson’s Vision. The set will include all of MJ’s legendary and iconic music videos (or “short films” as he referred to them) for the first time ever. The most exciting part of this set is the inclusion of many videos never before released on DVD, including three from his days with the Jacksons, but also the never before seen video for “One More Chance.” There truly is no better collection of music videos…ever. For any admirer of his visual work, please take my word for it that this is well worth every penny.

In addition to Michael’s videos, he was renowned for his groundbreaking and record-setting world tours. Cirque du Soleil is putting together “Michael Jackson: The Immortal World Tour,” which will obviously be an MJ-worthy spectacle. Cirque describes the show as “a riveting fusion of visuals, dance, music, and fantasy that immerses audiences in Michael’s creative world and literally turns his signature moves upside down.” The show promises to please both life-long fans as well those who haven’t experienced his work before. North American dates for the tour have been released (starting in the Fall of ’11) and tickets are available now. They can be purchased through Cirque du Soleil’s website (www.cirquedusoleil.com). There is no word as to whether there will be an accompanying soundtrack, but the show itself will no doubt be unbelievable.

However, the most exciting upcoming MJ release comes in the form of a brand new studio album entitled MICHAEL, due for release December 14. The album is set to feature between 10-12 tracks of songs Michael recorded before his death between 2001 and 2009. While the exact tracklist is unknown, Jackson had been working with everyone from Akon to RedOne before his death. One confirmed track, “Breaking News” is being released as a promotional track and will be streamed on www.michaeljackson.com for this entire week. The album’s first official single is yet to be announced. While this is obvious controversy surrounding the release, (when isn’t there with Michael Jackson?) this is something the world has been waiting for and considering who made the songs, it’s safe to say it won’t disappoint.

The death of Michael Jackson certainly hasn’t stopped the expansion of his legacy, and the upcoming months are without a doubt going to be an exciting time, not only for his fans but for the music world as a whole.

Jackson Doctor’s Case Assigned to LA Trial Judge

by The Associated Press | April 7, 2010

LOS ANGELES – The involuntary manslaughter case against Michael Jackson’s cardiologist was assigned to a trial judge Monday in a brief proceeding that drew fans and family members of the late pop star.

FILE - In this Monday, Feb. 8, 2010 file photo, Michael Jackson's physician, Conrad Murray, right, arrives for his arraignment at the Airport Branch Courthouse in Los Angeles, where he is expected to face involuntary manslaughter charges in Jackson's death. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes, FILE)

Dr. Conrad Murray, his attorneys and prosecutors assembled before Supervising Superior Court Judge Peter Espinoza, who in moments assigned the case to Judge Michael Pastor and sent them to his courtroom.

Pastor scheduled a June 14 court date to take up remaining procedural issues including the setting of a date for a preliminary hearing and Murray’s fight to keep his California medical license.

The state attorney general, representing the state medical board, has moved to revoke Murray’s license pending trial.

Earlier, about 50 Jackson fans waved signs and chanted outside the courthouse.

The fans sang “We Are the World,” wore T-shirts emblazoned with Jackson’s picture and the slogan, “Justice 4 Michael,” and carried placards demanding stronger charges against Murray.

Fans in a courthouse hallway called out “Hi Janet” as Jackson’s sister Janet arrived. The late pop star’s parents, Joe and Katherine, and brother Jermaine also attended.

Murray has pleaded not guilty to involuntary manslaughter, which carries a maximum sentence of four years in prison.

Normally, such a procedural hearing would draw few spectators.

But with Jackson’s death as the backdrop, crowds of fans and media were expected, and Jackson family members have committed to attending all court proceedings against Murray.

Sandi Gibbons, spokeswoman for the district attorney’s office, said the Jackson family notified court officials that up to 15 courtroom seats would be needed.

“It’s basically a housekeeping hearing, but it will be the housekeeping hearing heard around the world,” said Loyola University law professor Laurie Levenson. “There is no detail too minute for the international media.”

Murray’s attorneys contend the license issue is critical to his ability to pay for his defense.

The doctor has a history of serious financial problems and his attorneys, Ed Chernoff and Joseph Low, said in a recent court filing that the effect of losing his license would be devastating to Murray.

“He is, without fear of overstatement, hanging on by a thread,” the attorneys wrote. “His ability to pay for his own defense depends almost entirely on his ability to continue to treat patients.”

Murray, 57, a cardiologist, has clinics in Las Vegas and Houston and also has a license to practice in California. Should his California license be lifted, his lawyers suggest there would be a “domino effect” with other states moving to do the same.

Already, Nevada authorities have filed a formal complaint against Murray saying he twice failed to mention delinquent child support payments on applications to renew his medical license. Miranda Sevcik, spokeswoman for Murray and Chernoff, says Murray’s legal team hopes to resolve the complaint in a way that allows the doctor to keep his license.

As a condition of his $75,000 bail, Murray has been ordered not to administer any anesthetic.

Jackson was 50 and about to launch a series of comeback shows in London when he died last June after being rushed to a hospital from his Beverly Hills home. Murray, who signed on in May at $150,000 a month to keep Jackson healthy through the comeback tour, told police he had been treating him for insomnia.

The legendary pop star was found to have died from acute intoxication with the hospital anesthetic propofol and other sedatives as a contributing factor.

Chernoff has said that nothing Murray gave the singer should have killed him.

Jackson family to face doctor charged in death

by Brittni DeHart | April 5, 2010

From The Associated Press

More than a dozen members of Michael Jackson’s family plan to appear in a courtroom where the doctor charged with causing his death is due for a hearing.

Dr. Conrad Murray has pleaded not guilty to a charge of involuntary manslaughter. The hearing agenda Monday is procedural — assigning a judge to try the case and setting a preliminary hearing date. Also at issue will be a medical board request to revoke his license to practice.

Allan Parachini, spokesman for the Los Angeles courts, said in addition to family members a large contingent of media from around the world also is expected and the sheriff’s department is preparing for a crowd.

Jackson, 50, died last June after being rushed to a hospital from his Beverly Hills home.

Conrad Murray Pleads Not Guilty in Jackson Death

by Liz De La Torre | February 17, 2010

The colossal delirium that materialized when pop phenomenon Michael Jackson died last summer has resumed and taken the life of a full-fledged spectacle as the subject of his death is making the most recent headlines. Texas cardiologist Conrad Murray, who was hired as a personal doctor by Jackson, was charged with involuntary manslaughter in the king of pop’s Jun. 25 death, a charge that could land him up to 4 years in prison if convicted. Amid the presence of the Jackson family and fans who shouted “murderer” to him, Murray pled not guilty to the charge on Feb. 8, settling to $75, 000 bail. Under the bail conditions, Murray was permitted to continue practice but had to forfeit his passport and withdraw the use of specific drugs, namely the powerful anesthetic Propofol, used in the Jackson death.

Michael Jackson’s death has been ruled a homicide after an amalgamation of drugs were found to have caused cardiac arrest. According to court filings, on the day of Jackson’s death, Murray attended to him at his mansion and reportedly gave the pop sensation Propofol just before 11 a.m. and then went to use the bathroom. Murray claims that once he returned, he discovered Jackson wasn’t breathing and tried resuscitating him to no avail. In addition, a set of non-emergency phone calls were made by Murray for a 47-minute time span before he called an ambulance at 12:21 p.m.

Murray has said that he used the anesthetic to help Jackson sleep but only after the icon had requested it and insisted he did not give the pop icon anything that would have killed him. Although Murray obtained the drug legally, the medical issues here include the setting in which he administered the drug and his qualification. In keeping with the American Society of Anesthesiologists, those administering Propofol should be anesthesiologists with knowledge and preparation on handling any difficulties, available at hand to supervise patients “without interruption,” and have equipment readily accessible for trouble. Because there is no evidence that Murray intended to kill Jackson, there has been no murder charge. However, Murray’s medical negligence was enough to indict him with “unlawfully and without malice” killing the pop star. Since his arraignment, Murray has returned to work in Nevada, agreeing to the aforementioned bail agreement.

Michael Jackson doctor charged in singer’s death

by Brittni DeHart | February 9, 2010

From The Associated Press

Michael Jackson’s doctor was charged Monday with involuntary manslaughter, capping an exhaustive investigation into the pop star’s stunning death last summer and setting up the prospect of another sensational celebrity courtroom drama.

Dr. Conrad Murray, a cardiologist who was with Jackson when he died June 25 at his rented Los Angeles mansion, is accused of acting “unlawfully and without malice” in bringing about Jackson’s death, according to a complaint filed by prosecutors.

The complaint said Murray acted “without the caution and circumspection required” when he administered a powerful sedative to Jackson in an effort to help him sleep.

The charge was expected, and Murray’s attorney, Ed Chernoff, said his client planned to surrender to authorities later Monday.

“We’ll make bail, we’ll plead not guilty and we’ll fight like hell,” Chernoff said before the charge was filed.

Jackson hired Murray to be his personal physician as he prepared for a series of strenuous comeback concerts in London. Officials say the singer died after Murray administered the powerful general anesthetic propofol and two other sedatives to get the chronic insomniac to sleep.

Los Angeles investigators were methodical in building a case against Murray, wary of repeating missteps that have plagued some other high-profile celebrity cases, most notably O.J. Simpson and actor Robert Blake, both of whom were acquitted of murder.

After reviewing toxicology findings, the coroner ruled Jackson’s death at age 50 a homicide caused by acute intoxication of the powerful anesthetic propofol, with other sedatives a contributing factor.

Propofol is only supposed to be administered by an anesthesia professional in a medical setting, because it depresses breathing and heart rate while lowering blood pressure.

Murray appears to have obtained the drug legally and its use is not in itself a crime. To show the doctor was negligent in his care, detectives spoke to more than 10 medical experts to see if his behavior fell outside the bounds of reasonable medical practice.

According to court documents, Murray told police he administered propofol just before 11 a.m. then stepped out of the room to go to the bathroom.

There is some dispute about what happened next. According to court filings, Murray told police that upon his return from the bathroom, he saw Jackson was not breathing and began trying to revive him.

But an ambulance was not called until 12:21 p.m. and Murray spent much of the intervening time making non-emergency cell phone calls, police say. The nature of the calls, which lasted 47 minutes, is not known.

Murray’s lawyer has said investigators got confused about what Murray had told them, and that the doctor found his patient unresponsive around noon.

The investigation included several agencies, including the Los Angeles Police Department, the district attorney’s office and the federal Drug Enforcement Administration.

Many witnesses have been interviewed by police, including those who were present during Jackson’s last days, those who worked with him in preparation for his series of comeback concerts, “This Is It,” and members of his personal entourage, including his security guard and personal assistant.

Michael Jackson’s doctor pleads not guilty

by Liz De La Torre | February 8, 2010

From The Associated Press

LOS ANGELES – The doctor who prosecutors say caused Michael Jackson’s death has been released from jail after posting $75,000 in bail, only a few hours after surrendering to authorities on a manslaughter charge.

Sheriff’s Department spokesman Steve Whitmore says Dr. Conrad Murray was released Monday afternoon. Earlier in the day, he appeared in Superior Court and pleaded not guilty. He faces up to four years in prison if convicted.

Murray’s lawyer says the doctor plans to return to his medical practices in Houston and Las Vegas while he awaits trial.

However, state officials say they plan to ask that the court suspend his medical license while he is free on bail.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP’s earlier story is below.

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Michael Jackson’s doctor pleaded not guilty Monday to involuntary manslaughter in the death of the pop star at a brief hearing that had all the trappings of another sensational celebrity courtroom drama.

Dr. Conrad Murray appeared in court in a gray suit as Jackson’s father Joe, mother Katherine, and siblings LaToya, Jermaine, Tito, Jackie and Randy watched from courtroom seats behind prosecutors.

Neither Murray nor the Jacksons showed much emotion as Murray entered his plea through his attorney Ed Chernoff.

“We need justice,” Joe Jackson said outside court before leaving with family members in a fleet of Cadillac Escalades.

Earlier, several people shouted “murderer” as Murray walked past a crowd of hundreds of reporters and Jackson fans on his way to a courthouse adjacent to Los Angeles International Airport.

Murray, 56, a Houston cardiologist who was with Jackson when he died June 25, entered his plea just hours after he was charged.

Superior Court Judge Keith L. Schwartz set bail at $75,000, three times more than the amount most people face after being charged with involuntary manslaughter.

Prosecutors had been seeking $300,000 bail for Murray, who was taken into custody by deputies but not handcuffed in public. He was expected to be released later in the day.

The judge told Murray he could travel throughout the United States after posting bail but must surrender his passport and not leave the country.

It appeared authorities were taking extra steps to ensure the arraignment did not become a media circus.

Lines were formed to gain admission to the courtroom, and the Jackson family was escorted in separately and seated before anyone else arrived.

Despite the precautions, the upcoming proceedings promise to be the focus of widespread attention.

Jackson, 50, hired Murray in May to be his personal physician as he prepared for a strenuous series of comeback performances.

Officials said the singer died in Los Angeles after Murray administered the powerful general anesthetic propofol and two other sedatives to get the chronic insomniac to sleep.

Murray is accused of the single felony count in a five-page complaint that said he “did unlawfully, and without malice, kill Michael Joseph Jackson” by acting “without due caution and circumspection.”

The complaint contains no details on Jackson’s death, but authorities have said the singer died after Murray administered the anesthetic and other drugs. Murray has said he did nothing that should have caused Jackson to die.

If convicted, the doctor could face up to four years in prison.

“We’ll make bail, we’ll plead not guilty and we’ll fight like hell,” Chernoff said before the charge was filed.

Known as “milk of amnesia,” propofol is only supposed to be administered by an anesthesia professional in a medical setting because it depresses breathing and heart rate while lowering blood pressure.

The American Society of Anesthesiologists warned in 2004 that a doctor using propofol should have education and training to manage anesthesia complications, be physically present throughout sedation and monitor patients “without interruption” for signs of trouble. Rescue equipment “must be immediately available,” it said.

Los Angeles investigators were methodical in building a case against Murray, wary of repeating missteps that have plagued some other high-profile celebrity cases, most notably against O.J. Simpson and actor Robert Blake, both of whom were acquitted of murder.

After reviewing toxicology findings, the coroner ruled Jackson’s death a homicide caused by acute intoxication of propofol, with other sedatives a contributing factor.

Murray appears to have obtained the drug legally and its use is not in itself a crime. To show the doctor was negligent in his care, detectives spoke to more than 10 medical experts to see if his behavior fell outside the bounds of reasonable medical practice.

Court documents state Murray told police he administered propofol just before 11 a.m. then stepped out of the room to go to the bathroom.

There is some dispute about what happened next. According to court filings, Murray told police that upon his return from the bathroom, he saw Jackson was not breathing and began trying to revive him.

But an ambulance was not called until 12:21 p.m. and Murray spent much of the intervening time making non-emergency cell phone calls, police say. The nature of the calls, which lasted 47 minutes, is not known.

Murray’s lawyer has said investigators got confused about what Murray had told them, and that the doctor found his patient unresponsive around noon.

A large number of witnesses have been interviewed by police, including those who were present during Jackson’s last days, those who worked with him in preparation for his series of comeback concerts, “This Is It,” and members of his personal entourage, including his security guard and personal assistant.

The comeback concerts sold out in anticipation of Jackson’s return as the “King of Pop” after years of odd behavior, trial and acquittal on molestation charges and self-imposed isolation that overshadowed a lifetime in music that reached superstardom with the 1982 album “Thriller” and such hits as “Beat It” and “Billie Jean.”

At the time of his death, Jackson was in relatively good health and had no illegal drugs in his system, according to the autopsy report obtained by The Associated Press. Jackson had a strong heart and his kidneys and most other major organs were normal, according to the autopsy.

Jackson’s most serious problem was a chronic inflammation of the lungs that reduced capacity and may have left him short of breath. But the autopsy said it would not have been a direct or contributing cause of death.

Legal experts said the autopsy findings bolstered the case for prosecution and would block a potential defense that Jackson hid serious conditions that increased risk of death from drugs he willingly took.

Doctor finally facing charge in Jackson death

by Liz De La Torre | February 8, 2010

From The Associated Press

LOS ANGELES – After a week of trying, Dr. Conrad Murray was preparing to finally surrender Monday, with prosecutors saying they will file a charge in the death of Michael Jackson.

A district attorney’s spokeswoman did not name the doctor nor say what the charge will be but Murray’s lawyers have said they expect a single charge of involuntary manslaughter against the man who administered an anesthetic to the singer before he died.

In a brief statement posted on his Web site Monday, Murray’s lead attorney said his client was prepared to surrender at the courthouse adjacent to Los Angeles International Airport at 1:30 p.m. PST. In anticipation of his arrival, TV news vans and satellite trucks filled the courthouse parking lot before dawn.

Murray has been the focal point of a police investigation since Jackson died under his care last June 25 at age 50. Murray acknowledged that he administered the hospital anesthetic propofol and other sedatives as Jackson, a chronic insomniac, struggled to sleep.

Murray had been hired as the performer’s personal physician as he prepared for a monumental comeback concert in London. The doctor was to have traveled with Jackson and had closed down his cardiology practices in Houston and Las Vegas to devote himself to Jackson full time.

The death of the pop superstar left the doctor’s life and medical practice in limbo. There was talk of a criminal case even before a coroner’s report found that Jackson’s death was a homicide and pinpointed propofol and other drugs as the cause.

On Friday, after a week of on-again, off-again reports that Murray would be charged, district attorney’s spokeswoman Sandi Gibbons said the office was delaying any action until Monday amid reports that police wanted to arrest and handcuff the doctor but his attorneys were negotiating to avoid that.

The drama of his surrender and subsequent arraignment was to be played out in front of news cameras, and Murray’s legal team wanted to avoid the spectacle of having the doctor seen in handcuffs by a large audience — including potential jurors for his trial.

One group that wants to see him in handcuffs is a contingent of Michael Jackson fans who launched a telephone campaign to the Los Angeles Police Department demanding as much. They threatened to hold a protest at the airport-area courthouse if Murray was allowed to surrender on his own.

The doctor maintains nothing he gave Jackson should have killed him. A trial would be expected to involve expert medical testimony on the use of propofol and whether there was gross negligence involved in its use at a private home. It is normally administered in hospital settings.

Murray’s lead defense lawyer, Ed Chernoff, has said the doctor is prepared for the legal battle ahead.

“We’ll make bail, we’ll plead not guilty and we’ll fight like hell,” said Chernoff.

Jackson’s 3-D tribute is a hit at Grammy Awards

by Brittni DeHart | February 1, 2010

From The Associated Press

In a mix of the mystical and gimmicky, Michael Jackson posthumously paid tribute to both Mother Earth and 3-D video on Sunday’s Grammy Awards telecast.

The occasion was a lifetime achievement award for Jackson from the Recording Academy.

But the much-awaited spectacle was the 3-D live-and-film number with the King of Pop heard performing his “Earth Song,” accompanied by on-stage stars as well as images from nature that had multitudes of Grammycast viewers peering through the red-and-blue-lensed 3-D glasses they scored beforehand from their local Target store.

This big event arrived about two-thirds into CBS’ three-hour live shindig from Los Angeles’ Staples Center.

It was introduced by Lionel Richie, who said the performance was meant by Jackson as a call to action against the destruction of Nature and animals by humans.

The performance began with footage of waterfalls and rain forests with Jackson heard declaring, “I respect the secrets and magic of Nature,” as the song began its message of preserving the planet.

The lyrics were affecting enough: “Did you ever stop to notice all the blood we’ve shed before? Did you ever stop to notice this crying Earth, its weeping shores?”

But with the sight of a little girl blowing the seeds of a dandelion seemingly right into a viewer’s living room, every viewer had to be captivated — at least, viewers with the 3-D glasses.

Viewers without glasses saw slightly offset red and greenish images. Not so captivating.

In turn, the background panoramic visuals were supplemented by onstage singers Celine Dion, Usher, Carrie Underwood, Jennifer Hudson and Smokey Robinson to powerful effect — and, when captured at the proper angles, they stood in distinct 3-D relief against the film background.

Through it all, Jackson reigned in photos across the sprawling panorama.

As Richie explained in his introduction, the performance piece was produced as a key element of Jackson’s planned comeback concerts in London in July 2009 — shows that never happened because of his June 25 death in Los Angeles.

A part of the clip was included in Jackson’s movie documentary “This Is It,” but the full production of “Earth Song” had not been seen before and was billed by the Grammys as the first time an awards show had featured such a 3-D sequence.

Of course, the 3-D effect, however much still a novelty, is no stranger to TV. A year ago, NBC aired an episode of its action-adventure series “Chuck” in 3-D, as well as a commercial during the Super Bowl promoting the animated feature “Monsters vs. Aliens.”

Recently, two major cable networks — ESPN and Discovery — said they plan to start beaming 3-D entertainment into homes regularly.

And earlier in the day Sunday in Britain, pub-goers in nine pubs became the first public audiences to witness a live sports event broadcast in 3-D as they watched a soccer match: Manchester United beat Arsenal 3-1.

Jackson moonwalk glove sells for $350K in NYC

by Brittni DeHart | November 22, 2009

From The Associated Press

The shimmering, white glove Michael Jackson wore when he premiered his trademark moonwalk dance in 1983 was auctioned off for $350,000 — plus tax — on Saturday.

Winning bidder Hoffman Ma of Hong Kong will pay $420,000, including taxes and fees, for the rhinestone-studded, modified golf glove Jackson wore on his left hand for his moonwalk on Motown’s 25th anniversary TV special.

The glove was the top item in a collection of Jackson memorabilia on the block at the Hard Rock Cafe in Times Square. Its pre-auction estimate was $40,000 to $60,000.

“It was a fairly good discount,” said Ma, a 36-year-old Jackson fan who bought the pop-music treasure on behalf of the Ponte 16 Resort Hotel in Macau.

As the price of the glove soared, fans roared and squealed — echoing the kind of frenzy that accompanied the late pop star when he toured the world.

“That’s what death brings upon celebrity,” said Brendan Doyle, a college student munching chicken fingers from a plate in his lap. “Jackson’s death was such a tragedy at such a young age that it pushed up prices.”

The pop icon, who died June 25 at 50, had given the glove to Walter “Clyde” Orange, of the singing group the Commodores.

A jacket that Jackson wore on his 1989 “Bad” tour fetched $225,000 — 20 times its low estimate of $8,000.

The sale, held by Los Angeles-based Julien’s Auctions, also included a fedora Jackson wore for the moonwalk. It sold for $22,000, against a $2,000 high estimate.

New Yorker Linda Derogene said she was willing to spend up to $5,000 for a material link to the performer she’s idolized all her life, but never got a chance to see in concert.

“I can’t even tell you what it would mean for me. It would be like a dream come true,” she said as she waited to bid on something she could afford.

There was no doubt that Jackson dominated the auction dubbed “Music Icons” — of more than 300 items belonging to stars from Elvis Presley and the Beatles to Mariah Carey. The musicians’ clothing and instruments filled the small Rock Cafe stage, with two giant photos of Jackson on either side and a huge picture of his famed glove at the center.

Buyers paid the gavel price, plus a 20 percent auction house premium for items over $50,000, and 25 percent for those costing less.

Michael Jackson items to go on display in London

by Brittni DeHart | October 26, 2009

From The Associated Press

Rare Michael Jackson memorabilia will go on display in London later this week.

The official exhibit opens Wednesday and includes one of the late singer’s Rolls-Royces, some of his trademark gloves and sequined jackets and a contract from his early days with the Jackson 5.

It is timed to coincide with the release of a posthumous album and a movie consisting of rehearsals for his ill-fated “This is It” comeback performances in London.

The sold-out shows were canceled after Jackson’s sudden death in June.

The exhibition at London’s 02 Bubble arena includes more than 250 items from Jackson’s personal estate. It includes a crystal-studded hat and other items never before shown to the public.

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