"Crazy" vs. Ignorant Arrogance: A Rebuttal of Sullivan and Hill

Click here to watch the interview:


Lately I’ve been getting a lot of emails from readers asking me if I plan to review and/or rebut the controversial new book by Randall Sullivan, Untouchable: The Strange Life and Death of Michael Jackson. I have been honest in my responses, which is that first of all, along with so many other titles on my to-do list (many of which, frankly, I am looking much, much more forward to and that I know will be far more worthwhile reads) it is going to be awhile before I can find the time to actually sit down and read it. As a policy, I do not like to do book reviews until I have actually, well, read the book in question. It is often too easy to judge a book based on hearsay and kneejerk, word-of-mouth responses. I like to be an independent thinker and judge for myself. Sometimes, even if an author and I do not see eye to eye on some issues regarding Michael’s life, we may find common ground in others. The question then becomes: Does this book’s good qualities outweigh the bad? To what extent can a person knowledgable about Michael Jackson’s life overlook some egregious errors and flaws if there are compensating qualities the author offers and new insights? Usually, the reaction of the fan community is a very good barometor by which to gauge a book’s worth-and not because, as some detractors insist, simply because all MJ fans are blind worshippers who only wish to see positive things written about Michael. In fact, many fans, like myself, are far more interested in the human side of Michael Jackson than the public image. No, it has to do with something else-the fact that MJ fans, on the whole, are knowledgable, intelligent people who have, for the most part, invested many more years of researching Michael’s life than the average journalist for whom it is simply their latest project, and for which they hope to earn a quick buck and some notoriety. The fans know how to separate the junk from the gems; the knowledgable from the ignorant, and most of all, the difference between those who have a genuine love or at least respect for their subject vs. those who don’t.

It Doesn’t Take Close-Up Reading Spectacles To Know When A Biographer Doesn’t Respect His Subject

One thing is for sure: If an MJ biographer doesn’t respect his subject, it will come through loud and clear. It will come through in what he/she chooses to emphasize; what facts they purposely choose to omit, and the overall, general tone of the book. A “sympathetic portrayal” (to borrow Sullivan’s own words) isn’t good enough if there are numerous egregious errors; good intentions don’t cut it if the overall result is simply to add to more misunderstanding of who Michael Jackson was, and to further contribute to the tabloid caricature rather than a true understanding of a complex human being.

Thus, while a negative buzz isn’t enough to turn me completely off of a new title, it usually is enough to put me on high alert. I certainly do not need all of the books I read to be warm and fuzzy love letters to Michael. But I do expect them to be knowledgable, well researched, and accurate. I expect a certain level of journalistic integrity in which the author does not simply rely on tabloid sources. And one thing that turns me off quicker than anything is when writers who never knew Michael attempt to psychoanalyze him. At best, such attempts come off as a kind of arrogant projection (this is who/what I think Michael Jackson was, and I will do my damdest to make every “fact” suit my agenda). At worst, they can do irrefutable damage by sometimes creating false perceptions and myths about an individual that can then take years to undo.

At this point, you may be thinking, wow. For someone who admits I haven’t even read Sullivan’s book yet, I am sure doing my share of judging it already. Well, let’s be honest. With all of the interviews Sullivan has already done, all of the book reviews that have already been written, and the excerpts I have seen (and yes, I have downloaded and skimmed a sizeable chunk of the book) I don’t think I am speaking too prematurely. For sure, I’ve seen enough to know what Sullivan’s general attitude is, as well as the overall tone and agenda of his book.

But really, what I intended this piece to be, as per this title’s post, is not so much a review of Sullivan’s book per se, as a rebuttal of his recent Huffington Post interview by Dr. Marc Hill. Now that I am perfectly qualified to speak out about, and all I have to say is…this interview is, by far, the biggest exercise in condescending, smarmy, arrogant ignorance I have seen in some time. And that isn’t directed at only Sullivan, but Marc Hill as well. Dr. Hill could certainly do well to take some lessons in journalistic integrity, but sadly, he is the norm rather than the exception. Once again, I find myself cringeing through an interview where some arrogant, clueless author (just because he has journalistic “credentials” with some big name magazine) sits and spouts decades-old misinformation about Michael Jackson, while he and the suck-up host (as equally clueless about Michael) sit and scoff at the fans who are actually providing credible facts and correctly calling this person out on their errors. Even if Marc Hill called himself being “balanced” or fair by allowing the tweets from fans and by allowing the other interviewers onto the show (even though sanemjfan was the only one with anything of substance to say) his smirking, condescending attitude toward the fans spoke volumes. Obviously, this had nothing to do with a genuine interest in presenting factual information or allowing viewers to actually challenge Sullivan’s egregious errors or motives. It was, as one viewer aptly commented, nothing more than a “fratboy gabfest.”

I don’t necessarily fault journalists if they don’t know everything about Michael, and if what they do know seems to come only from mass media reporting. After all, these aren’t people who have spent their lives researching MJ 24-7. But what I do expect is a certain level of professional neutrality; not automatic, knee-jerk dismissals of those who are attempting to refute the very misinformation they are helping to perpetuate. Just because someone has written a book on a subject doesn’t make their opinions infallible; it certainly doesn’t mean there aren’t knowledgable readers who may challenge that information. To simply dismiss these people out of hand as “crazy” Michael Jackson fans is insulting and shows a complete disregard for any interest in presenting truthful information. I was also very disappointed that of the three guest interviewers Dr. Hill allowed on the show, only one (sanemjfan, of course) presented any serious challenges to Sullivan’s claims. Thank God there was at least one strong advocate on that show who wasn’t turning this into a Sullivan butt-kissing fest! And seriously, what kind of Michael Jackson fan would have to ask Randy Sullivan, of all people, if Michael was working on new music in his last years? Sheesh! Although I thought Sullivan handled the question well and seemed reasonably knowledgable enough of the music Michael was working on in his last years (as he should, he is supposed to be a Rolling Stone reporter, for crying out loud!) this is mostly common knowledge material that any halfway educated MJ fan would already know. But it seemed to me that challenging Sullivan was the least concern of this show.

Here is a tip for Randall Sullivan: If you expect to sell copies of a book about Michael Jackson, it might be in your best interest to not alienate your prime audience. After all, who else is going to buy a book about Michael Jackson? People who don’t like him, or are indifferent, aren’t going to bother. Casual fans most likely aren’t going to bother (after all, the book is over 700 pages!). It’s the hardcore fans and researchers who will buy this book, if anyone does. But the hardcore fans aren’t interested in regurgitated tabloid information that is decades old, and researchers aren’t going to be interested in a book filled with errors and sloppy, one-sided research.

And by condescendingly dismissing those who are intelligent and knowledgable enough to call him out on his errors as “crazy” Sullivan certainly isn’t going to endear himself with the very audience he needs most in order to sell his book!

To be honest, there was a time when I would have defended the entire MJ fan community, but in recent years, I’ve come to the slow, dawning realization tha this “lunatic fringe” faction does exist. I know because as a blogger who has always attempted to write about Michael from a balanced perspective, I’ve had more than my own fair share of dealings with this faction-unfortunately, they are all too real. But they do not represent the majority. Most importantly, they do not represent any of the commentors I saw who were responding to Dr. Hill, to Randall Sullivan, or to this Huffington Post interview. These were, from everything I read, knowledgable fans who want the truth to be told, and who are rightfully concerned that the truth be told. I know some will come back with the old, trite, worn out responses: How do we know what is “the truth” when it comes to Michael Jackson? Perhaps that is a fair enough question. We may not know the whole “truth” but we sure know BS when we are hearing it.

The “BS” Patrol Is Out In Full Force!

And frankly, that is all I heard for three-fourths of this interview-a whole lot of BS mixed in with the occasional bits that I agreed with or where I felt Sullivan probably knew what he was talking about. Like most writers who set out to write on MJ, Sullivan seems to be a writer with some areas of strength and expertise. For example, some of what he had to say about Michael’s movie ambitions were interesting and informative (again, managing to put Dr. Hill in his place, whom I’m willing to bet has never seen “Ghosts” and also seems to have conveniently forgotten all about Captain EO as well as every extended music video Michael ever did!). But the problem with Sullivan is that his arrogance, his blatant ignornace of other areas of Michael’s life, and his seeming lack of desire to get past the tabloid headlines more than overshadows anything positive or truthful he might have to say.

For example, Sullivan appears most on solid ground when he is addressing Michael’s relationship with his family, but even here, there is nothing particularly new or revelatory for most diehard fans beyond the story of Janet’s feud with the estate over the $40,000 deposit for the burial, a story that has been denied by the family and which may or may not be true; other than that, most fans know Michael spent very little time around his family in his last years; we know all about the abuse from Joe, etc. Nothing new under the sun there! I also have to give him some kudos for the effective knock-out punch he gave to Dr. Hill’s poorly informed (and typically media-fed) assertion that Michael was a barely functioning, physical wreck in his last years “barely able to walk without drugs.” I loved the story Sullivan tells of how Michael completely “dusted” the doctor in Bahrain who challenged him to a foot race. He mentions how the autopsy showed all of Michael’s organs to be incredibly healthy for a man his age, but then, within the same sentence, destroys any credibility gained by falsely stating that the autopsy mentions his nose, implying that it mentions his having a prosthetic nose (it doesn’t) and needle marks, implying these were a result of drug use (when, in fact, the actual report makes no such insinuation; all of the puncture marks mentioned seemed to be in direct correlation with recent medical procedures-including those administered by Murray- and/or resusitation efforts). What the autopsy does mention is that a small bandage was on the tip of the nose. I am guessing that Mr. Sullivan, in his haste to assume his theory about the prosthetic nose, must have jumped on this as “evidence” of a prosthetic. But, in fact, this is standard medical post-mortem procedure. Gauze tape and cotton is often used to prevent post-mortem draining from bodily cavities. It is not at all unsual for gauze tape to be placed over the nose and beneath the jaw (the latter purpose is to prevent the jaw from opening). For those who can bear to look at the hospital gurney photo, it is obvious that both Michael’s nose and lower jaw have been gauzed, but again, this is completely normal and standard post-mortem procedure.


This gauze bandage is still visible in the autopsy photo; in both photos, his nose appears fully intact.


But what’s more telling is that if Michael had been wearing a prosthetic nose, this certainly would have been mentioned in the autopsy report! The report is quite detailed and graphic, and leaves no stone unturned. Certainly the least of their concerns was preserving Michael’s “image” or his fans’ idealism. Its purpose was as an official document declaring how his death occurred, and why. Any artifice that would have had to have been removed as part of the examination process would have been duly noted, especially given that a full examination was done of his oronasal passages.


For example, the autopsy report clearly states that his wig was removed to reveal a mostly balding hairline; the remaining natural hair was short and “tightly curled.” If they would put into his report that they had to remove a wig, you know they would have certainly documented the removal of a prosthetic nose piece! They also would have certainly documented if the nose appeared in any way abnormal or remarkable, even if that abnormality did not contribute to the death. With the autopsy report having been made public, I certainly would never attempt to argue with anyone that Michael had all of his natural hair and wasn’t wearing wigs when he died; to do so would be the height of absurdity and denial! Yet there are still those like Mr. Sullivan who choose to simply cherry pick what they want to believe about the autopsy report, while ignoring the rest!

One of the things that MOST irked and irritated me about this interview was when the person tweeted demanding to know where was his proof that Michael wore a prosthetic nose, and the best he could do was evasively allude to a photo on the internet. Sullivan never specifies the photo he is referring to. I agree with the fans who pointed out (correctly, I am assuming) that the photo in question is most likely this well-known photoshop:


I have to hope that SURELY an accredited journalist would be smart enough to not assume this as a genuine and legit photo! But given his evasiveness and apparent unwillingness to identify the photo in question, it seems this is, in fact, the photo he is referring to as “proof.” It is the only “photo” on the internet that shows Michael Jackson without a nose, and it is obviously a fake. So what else is there? If he is referring to the infamous photos taken on the day of his November 2002 Santa Maria court appearance, even those (as unflattering as they are) clearly show that he has a fully intact nose! In fact, many of those photos were intentionally doctored/distorted to make his nose look worse than the way he actually appeared that day in court.

Michael’s November 2002 Santa Maria court appearance.

What The Media Wanted You To See And Focus On:


Now look at this photo, taken the same day at the same court appearance:

Though I would still never argue that these are Michael’s most flattering photos, it is plainly obvious in the second pic that his nose looks perfectly normal for this particular era of his appearance. At any rate, it’s certainly intact!

Note in this video (thanks, Blue Lotus for the link!), beginning at about the 0:27 mark, how other photos taken of him on that same day, during the same court appearance, look perfectly fine!


So if Sullivan’s “proof” isn’t that hilariously obvious photoshop, or the Santa Maria court pics, what else is there? The only such photos on the internet are very obvious sick “joke” pics made by haters and pranksters. Simply put, there is no such pic on the internet. And if Sullivan does have such proof of an actual, legit photo that exists, he needs to put up or shut up.

While I’m not denying the whole body dysmorphia arguement (I have heard too many of Michael’s friends say that he did believe he was ugly, so I am forced to accept this as at least part of his psychological makeup) I really just think the whole issue has been played out. The notion that Michael was somehow desperately trying to not look like Joe is ridiculous, since Michael never resembled Joe to begin with. If anything, Michael bore a much stronger resemblance to his mother-the parent he claimed to adore-and to her side of the family. The theory that Michael was trying to erase any vestige of his father from his face goes back to Taraborelli, who in my opinion really started the whole body dysmorphia thing and the He-Didn’t-Want-To-Look-Like-His-Dad Theory, to which others have simply been latching onto ever since without bothering to do their own research.


The Myth That Michael Was Trying To Eradicate All Resemblance To Joe From His Face Is Puzzling Since Michael Actually Bore Little Natural Resemblance To His Father!

This is followed by more of the usual tired, cliched’ speculation about Michael’s sexuality. I know I have addressed this issue dozens of times, but the fact that it continues to crop up in almost every media interview says everything about how persistently stubborn some people are to let go of these worn out notions. I’ve said before, and will say it again: WHY does there exist this prevalent need to de-sexualize and emasculate Michael Jackson? Why? Excuse me, it’s just that I have yet to understand why we can’t allow this perfectly grown man his humanity-and certainly allowing him his sexuality is a part of that. Just ask Michael’s millions of female fans all over the world, and we can certainly tell you: We weren’t fainting and passing out at all of those shows because we were seeing Peter Pan up there!

Sullivan says he believes that Michael died a virgin but again, when pressed for his “proof” or sources for such a claim, he becomes defensively evasive and falls back on the same old cliches’ about what Tatum said, or what Brooke said. It’s really high time that someone stepped up and said, Who Freakin’ CARES what Tatum or Brooke said? Tatum O’Neil and Brooke Shields are hardly the only two women Michael ever had in his life, and besides, what makes their word gospel? How do we know they’re not lying themselves, for one reason or another (just as people like Sullivan want to dismiss and discredit Lisa Marie Presley, because her version of events doesn’t suit their agenda!). Then, when pressed about Lisa Marie, he tries to back pedal by falling back on the old stand-by “I wasn’t there, so I don’t know.” Well duh! Then it gets even more bizarre as he tries to insinuate that he never said that Michael and Lisa Marie didn’t have sexual relations; only that he doesn’t believe any intercourse took place.

Sullivan Bounces From Calling MJ “Presexual” To Heterosexual All In The Course Of A Single Interview!

By this point I am just like…WTF??? Okay, so as if all of this wasn’t bizarre enough, now we are supposed to believe that two perfectly grown, adult, married people somehow managed to have “relations” without ever “doing it?” Come on, Michael and Lisa were not two high school kids sneaking a quickie in their parents’ bedroom; they were grown adults-married adults, at that.  Sullivan was also quoted in another interview as saying that Lisa Marie doesn’t know what sex is. Wow! Talk about making assumptions. I’m sure Lisa would know more about that than Mr. Sullivan! Than, to further compound and confuse things, Sullivan then proceeds to state how he is convinced, from the conversations he’s had with his “sources” that Michael’s “baseline” was heterosexual, since he enjoyed checking out women’s backsides and such like! Okay, Sullivan, so now you’re saying he was heterosexual and enjoyed checking out women, when just a few sentences ago you said he was “presexual.” Is anyone else here as confused as I am?

And wouldn’t it stand to reason that a man who was interested in checking out women would then naturally proceed at some point to having relations with them, especially when he has women throwing themselves at him at every given opportunity?

It makes sense to say we can’t know for sure about his sexuality because we can’t ever be certain of anyone’s sexuality except our own (and some are confused even about that!). But Sullivan can’t seem to make up his mind. He veers from admitting he isn’t sure, to expressing outright doubt, to nevertheless pushing his “presexual virgin” agenda, all within the space of a single interview!

This is exactly what I mean when I talk about the arrogance of this man! To make such blatant and ridiculous claims is bad enough; to be passing them off as “fact” on a national platform is even worse. But the biggest tragedy of all is that gullible people will somehow find all of this nonsense “believable” because…well, simply because it’s Michael Jackson.

To cap it off, an inordinate amount of time is spent speculating on Michael’s alleged “mental health issues.” Again, it’s not so much the subject itself that bothers me. Bi-polar disorder, for example, runs in my family, as does major depressive disorder. I have dealt with these issues in one form or another my whole life. I do not think Michael was immune to such problems just because he was Michael Jackson. Michael was human like everybody else, and certainly prone to the same conditions and illnesses that many suffer from. Certainly we know he was taking anti-anxiety medications and medications used to treat major depressive disorder. But I have a problem when people like Dr. Hill just assume, as a matter of fact, that Michael had mental health issues and here we go again, with people who never knew Michael; who never even met him (like Randall Sullivan) attempting to psychoanalyze him.  The segment that most irked me here was when Dr. Hill mentioned “climbing trees” as a symptom of someone with a mental illness, and of course, they show the Martin Bashir clip where Bashir is baiting Michael into saying he would prefer to climb trees to having sex. Aside from the fact that I think any reasonably intelligent person would guess that he was joking (how many times have we said something like, “I’d rather eat chocolate than have sex!” and of course everyone laughs) the fact is, both Bashir and now Sullivan and Hill all miss the main point Michael was making, which is that this was how he drew his artistic inspiration! I’m sure if Beethoven or Shakespeare had said, “I get my best ideas when I am sitting in this tree” people would have quite a different take! To be totally fair, although I know this was what Michael was trying to get across, he should have done a better job of articulating his purpose for taking Bashir out to The Giving Tree. Bashir used this segment to try to paint Michael as some sort of deranged, regressed child (or, more aptly, as the kind of dangerous pedophile who uses such childlike behavior to entice children) rather than an artistic visionary who drew creative inspiration from nature. Perhaps he could have done a better job of articulating how he drew artistic inspiration from nature and from sitting in The Giving Tree. But then again, knowing as we do how Bashir manipulated and edited that interview, who knows what was actually said, and what ended up on the cutting room floor!

Michael Was Inspired To Write Some Of His Greatest Compositions While Sitting In “The Giving Tree” Including The Award-Winning “Will You Be There.” Yet The Ignorant Still Persist In Referring To This As A Sign Of Mental Illness! Perhaps We Should ALL Be So “Mentally Ill,” Huh!

I do not think it is necessarily hurtful to Michael’s legacy to think that he may have been bi-polar or that he had major depressive disorder (God knows, especially in the last years of his life, he endured enough to make anyone depressed!). But it IS hurtful to his legacy when we have armchair psychoanalysists like Sullivan who continue to pair the image of Michael Jackson with the words “bizarre,” “strange” and as someone with unresolved mental “issues.” The problem is that we are not-yet-at a stage where the tabloid damage that has been done to Michael’s legacy can be fully separated from, perhaps, a more compassionate view of those “issues”-even if, albeit, a compassionate view is the intent. In the public mind, Michael is still “Wacko Jacko” and, unfortunately, allowing a platform to people like Randy Sullivan does little to dispel that myth.

One of the apparent problems with this book is that Sullivan seems content to waffle on the really important issues. Like so many biographers who attempt to have it both ways (appeasing the fans while courting the major publishers and hoping for the big bucks of s sensationalistic best seller) he seems to neatly skirt the issue of Michael’s guilt or innocence concerning the allegations. Notice in the interview that he mentions having “a shadow of doubt” and even makes a sick joke that “only Lisa Marie and Jordie Chandler” would know the truth about Michael’s sexuality (real classy, by the way, to make such a joke if you have “a shadow of a doubt” that this may have been an abused child!) but neatly tries to back pedal when sanemjfan challenges him with direct questions about the Jordan Chandler case. Perhaps I will come away with a different impression once I read the book, but just judging from this interview alone, Sullivan certainly did not strike me as very knowledgable or as someone who has done much beyond the most rudimentary research on the allegations. In fact, he says in the interview that when Rolling Stone asked him if he would be interested in covering the 2005 trial, he refused! (Consider that meanwhile, Aphrodite Jones, who was not only there for the trial every single day but did painstaking research even afterwards, was forced to self-publish her own account of the trial).

Which perhaps, for me, brings up the most sadly ironic issue of all and why I so detest seeing people like Randall Sullivan getting such a platform. It happens again and again, that those who are misinformed; who do shoddy research; who rely on biased and questionable sources, are touted as “the experts” while those of us who have actually invested hundreds of hours into meticulously researching Michael’s life are relegated to the “lunatic fringe”-all because we may not work for some fancy schmanzy publication, or because we’re not rich enough to afford publicists who can book us on national talk shows.

One of the first things I did, upon downloading Sullivan’s book, was to check who the publisher was. Somehow it did not surprise me in the least that it was Grove/Atlantic. A major New York publisher! How fitting.

Explain to me again why Aphrodite Jones, a noted crime writer, had to resort to self-publication to get Conspiracy out? Or why Michael’s bodyguards could not get their book published, despite having shopped it everywhere?

A lot of us are very excited about Lisa D. Campbell’s new book! But I can practically guarantee you, there will probably be little to no promotion for this book on the talk show circuit!


I will be writing more in regards to Lisa Campbell’s book later, but for now, suffice it to say that I’m very, very discouraged and disheartened by this trend which allows the best and loudest platforms to those who seem to do the least amount of proper research.

As far as the subject of vitiligo, I have heard conflicting accounts of Sullivan’s take on that. Some reviewers have said that he does acknowledge in his book that Michael had it. However, others have said he states that Michael bleached his skin-a myth that the very autopsy report he so often falls back upon clearly dispels. Again, the damage he is doing to Michael Jackson’s legacy by continuing to perpetuate these age-old tabloid rumors is paramount when one reads reviews like this one that appeared recently on the Examiner website:


But on the bright side, major reviewers like The New York Times (certainly not a biased, fan publication by any means) have been less than glowing. Note the passages I have bold-faced in Michiko Kakutani’s review:

Books of The Times

This Just In: He Was the King of Pop

‘Untouchable,’ Michael Jackson’s Life, by Randall Sullivan

    He was the consummate performer, the ultimate showman. The creator of the biggest-selling album of all time, who three decades ago crashed through racial barriers on the music charts, ushered in the music video age and remade the pop music landscape. A song-and-dance man who took soul, funk, R&B, rock and disco and turned them into a sound distinctively his own, just as seamlessly as he drew upon the work of James Brown, Jackie Wilson and Fred Astaire to create otherworldly dance moves never before seen on this planet. An entertainer who would imprint the imaginations of several generations of fans and shape the work of performers from Justin Timberlake to Beyoncé to Usher.

Alessandra Montalto/The New York Times



The Strange Life and Tragic Death of Michael Jackson

By Randall Sullivan

Illustrated. 776 pages. Grove Press. $35.

Russell J. Young

Randall Sullivan

In those days, before the Internet niche-ification of culture and the ridiculously accelerated spin cycle of fame, he was the avatar of the celebrity age, at once a self-conscious and self-destructive pursuant of publicity. In later years his private life — accusations of child molesting, and a swirl of lawsuits, financial woes, drug addiction and erratic behavior — increasingly came to overshadow his music. His drug-induced death at the age of 50 in 2009 would itself turn into a worldwide spectacle of grief, speculation and unseemly jockeying for money and position among family members and lawyers.

Michael Jackson — a k a “the King of Pop,” “the Gloved One,” “the Earl of Whirl” or simply “M J” — has already been the subject of yards upon yards of coverage: magazine and newspaper articles, documentaries, interminable Internet discussions and wall-to-wall television reportage. According to Randall Sullivan’s dreary new Jackson book, “Untouchable,” the evening news programs of ABC, CBS and NBC “devoted more than a third of their broadcast coverage for an entire week to Michael Jackson” after his death.

Mr. Sullivan, who was a contributing editor to Rolling Stone for more than 20 years, does an adequate job of chronicling Jackson’s over-the-top fame. He conveys the tabloid madness that orbited around the pop star for several decades, and the grandiosity of his later self-presentations. (An estimated $30 million was spent on the publicity campaign for Jackson’s album “HIStory,” which included nine 30-odd-foot-high statues, one of which was floated down the Thames in London.) Such accounts, however, will be highly familiar to even the casual follower of Jackson news, and all too often, this volume feels as if it were constructed out of recycled materials.   

Much has already been written about Jackson’s fiscal woes (a result of insanely extravagant spending sprees, convoluted financial dealings and declining record sales) and the shameless maneuvering of family members and business associates over his estate (which, despite his huge debts, soared in value as his death led to a surge in sales of Jackson merchandise). Still, Mr. Sullivan devotes a huge and depressing amount of this haphazard and unconvincing book to these subjects — in large part, it seems, because two anonymous sources had a lot to say about them.       

At the same time Mr. Sullivan makes no serious effort in these pages to communicate or assess the artistry that first propelled Jackson to the pinnacle of pop music. He provides only the most cursory account of the performer’s musical apprenticeship — as a Motown artist and as a member of the Jackson 5 — and sheds little new light on his discovery of his own voice as an artist, the relationship between his music and his life, or the evolution of individual songs and albums. 

As for the infamy that attached to Jackson since he settled a 1993 child-molesting lawsuit for some $20 million, Mr. Sullivan says he told Jackson’s mother that he — Mr. Sullivan — “didn’t believe Michael was a child molester.”

Although Mr. Sullivan acknowledges that the detailed account that the boy in the 1993 case gave to police investigators about how a sexual relationship had developed between himself and Jackson is “undeniably disturbing,” he promotes a theory that the singer may have been “presexual.”       

“Of all the answers one might offer to the central question hanging over the memory of Michael Jackson,” Mr. Sullivan asserts, “the one best supported by the evidence was that he had died as a 50-year-old virgin, never having had sexual intercourse with any man, woman or child, in a special state of loneliness that was a large part of what made him unique as an artist and so unhappy as a human being.”

Mr. Sullivan, however, does not present any persuasive evidence regarding this assertion. What’s more, he leans heavily, throughout this book, on his “tremendously helpful” source Tom Mesereau, the lawyer who in 2005 helped win Jackson an acquittal on all charges in another child-molesting case. Remarkably enough, Mr. Sullivan ends this book’s last chapter with the suggestion that you might even grant Jackson “the wish that he isn’t sleeping alone tonight.”

Despite such sympathy for his subject, Mr. Sullivan fails to give us any new insight into Jackson’s enigmatic personality or his growing retreat into a fantasy bubble world of his own making. Instead, Mr. Sullivan just reiterates the sorts of observations made countless times before. He tells us that Jackson had been emotionally scarred as a boy by his brutal father’s verbal and physical assaults; that as a child star he was deprived of an ordinary childhood; that he was appalled by the behavior of groupies who circled his older brothers; and that his early Motown lessons in public relations increasingly morphed, in later years, into the belief that “there was no such thing as bad publicity.”

Cutting back and forth from Jackson’s earlier days to the period following the 2005 child-molesting trial, Mr. Sullivan spends way too much time chronicling the pop star’s depressing later years: his restless travels to Bahrain and Ireland, his growing dependence on drugs, his downward-spiraling finances and his reluctant decision to embark on a 50-show comeback tour.

Jackson was rehearsing for that tour at the time of his death in June 2009, and rehearsal footage was quickly edited together into a documentary (“This Is It”) released several months later.

Mr. Sullivan cites insiders as saying that the concerts would not only help stabilize Jackson’s finances, but also, in the words of Kenny Ortega — who collaborated with Jackson on the show — would give him back “his dignity as an artist.” And Jackson emerges from the rehearsal footage in “This Is It” not as a frail drug addict, but as a perfectionist, very much in control of his vision and focused on everything from the show’s tone to the phrasing and pacing of the music.

The never-to-be-realized concerts were meant to be multimedia extravaganzas — with 3-D videos, Broadway-like numbers with backup dancers, hologramlike effects and an elaborate save-the-Earth sequence — but it is Jackson alone on the stage who commands everyone’s attention. Conserving his energy, he doesn’t do “Billie Jean” full out — the sequence is only a shadow of his dazzling and now legendary performance on the “Motown 25” television special nearly three decades ago — but he reminds the other dancers and crew (and the viewers of the movie) of the magic he could still work as an artist.

Fans of Jackson’s talent (and even those readers only curious about the onstage phenomenon he once was) would be way better off viewing that documentary — or YouTube clips of the Motown show — than reading this bloated and thoroughly dispensable book.




Now, for those who still want to believe that Sullivan is simply offering up a fair, balanced portrayal of a flawed human being, and that we fans are being “irrational” and “crazy” when we attempt to point out the errors and inaccuracies in the book, consider for a moment this very well-informed review that appeared on Amazon from a reviewer named Katerina:

How is it possible to write a book and already have it considered out of date by information that has been released over 2 years before it was published? It’s a good question, and one I’d raise to both Randall, his publisher and the people who’ve excerpted his story all over their tabloids (where Randall’s info mostly originates).

Any book which now proclaims that Michael did not have a nose, insinuates he bleached his skin recreationally, hems and haws over his innocence, claims Michael hated his race or claims Michael didn’t have relationships with women is frankly anachronistic. There is much publicly available information which sheds light on all of that – none of which is covered here. Michael’s autopsy report is publicly available, why is that not used as a source for the information about his nose and instead misatributed quotes from The Sun are presented as though they are fact? It would seem to me that Randall didn’t even look at the autopsy report but got distracted by some tabloid recreation of it back in the days after his death and failed to research beyond that point. He goes on for pages about this supposed Bobby Driscoll’s prosthetic nose he imagines Michael had, all of it entirely fictional and so absurd that I wondered at the degree of shame the author lacked in its recounting, at no point in this fictional nose nonsense did he seem to stop and reconsider how he was making himself sound ridiculous with this obsession, and not Michael. His nose is right there in his autopsy; and yet here he writes almost 4 pages about a fake nose that never existed. But it goes to show how absolutely anything goes with Michael and Sullivan – it seems there is no tabloid story too crazy or wild that Sullivan doesn’t believe has a degree of truth in it. The Michael here is a monsterized version of tabloid literature come to life.

— He now claims the autopsy not revealing a prosthetic is based on the fact that Michael removed it at night. I’m not sure if he’s aware but in the autopsy photos Michael clearly still has his nose, and neither the coroner, the bodyguards, paramedics, or even Murray ever mentioned the lack of a nose in their reports. Did Mike keep this jar of noses by his bed? At what point during the day would it be glued on? Why have none of these noses ever gotten out? Mike left his phone everywhere, almost his entire life has been ransacked and paraded for show, but his detachable take-it-off-at-night-nose never went missing? None of the thieves around him ever bothered to run off with it to Ebay? Wouldn’t these fake noses be worth bazillions? Why weren’t they photographed by the crime scene photographers? Cited anywhere by anyone involved that day? Did it manage to re-attach itself to him during death for the photos? How exciting for it. It’s also at odds with the original description in his book of how the coroner had to cut away the prosthetic (coroner never says this). Either he had it in the autopsy or he didn’t; either way, we can clearly see in death his nose was with him, the coroner did not mention this lack of a nose and the nose seen there was the one he was normally seen with, i.e. this prosthetic nose business has absolutely no basis in reality.

He uses a quote from Taraborrelli’s biography to claim Michael started bleaching in the 70s with his sister LaToya. Of course no source are named, and it’s easily debunked as Toya has always been naturally very light skinned (their father Joe Jackson has green eyes because his mother is biracial and his father is listed as mulatto, as are all Michael’s grandparents.) These stories about Michael’s skin have been going on since the 80s because of his skin disorder, with the media seeking to fill in the blanks to explain the lightness in his skin for him, but when his vitiligo became public it should’ve illuminated many people on how easy it is to lie and perpetuate the lie about him, but instead Sullivan seems to lack any common sense and can’t see what is obvious in hindsight. Or like the nose, was it that he just liked the idea of Michael hating his race so much he just couldn’t let it go? Does he not ask himself why it’s only the people who have something against Michael who claim he hated his race and bleached his skin (Blanca Francia, Stacy Brown, Bob Jones) and not people he was really close to? That he let his children be raised by an African woman and insisted on ensuring they were raised well versed in African history and that besides his mother he wanted a black woman raising them (Diana Ross)? His daughter even says, “I’m black and I’m proud of it.” Obvious questions go unasked and unanswered here.

He claims Michael Jackson was a virgin, a moment in the book where I audibly laughed – a reaction I’m sure his ex wives and girlfriends would also share on such news. Even if he couldn’t find people around them willing to speak, Randall should’ve perhaps taken note of those two G spot articles the police found amongst his things in 2003? Lisa Marie is quoted here as saying Michael was “somewhat asexual”, you’d think with the way he presented this remark that this was a damning comment about their sex life: no, in reality she had been asked about his physical appearance, and that was her description. This is the kind of casual misquoting and omitting of information Randall does throughout his book. If it doesn’t fit in with what he needs, he ignores it or re-contextualizes it. None of Lisa Marie’s other remarks are included here (he made the moves on her, she wouldn’t have married him if the sex wasn’t good). He believes Bob Jones and the Neverland 5 (successfully countersued; exposed as liars on the stand) who claim nothing happened between Michael and Lisa, even though they had obvious agendas against Michael, were seeking to profit from the scandal, had left their jobs before they’d even married and were thoroughly discredited as witnesses (their testimony is like reading a surrealistic comedy); but we must forget, those are his best sources here. — He’s now claiming Lisa Marie and Michael may have “sexual contact”, but suggests Lisa doesn’t really know what sex is. That must be a real shocker to Mike who was trying to have a baby with her. He says that only Lisa can say if Mike was a virgin – that’s funny, she’s repeatedly confirmed they’ve had sex.

He claims that Debbie has never said she’s had sex with him. This isn’t true. The only reason we know Debbie’s name is because in the News of the World exclusive in 1996 which broke the story, a journalist had befriended her undercover for 2 months while she was pregnant, this is what they taped her saying: “We started by fooling around a bit and the next thing we knew we were doing it. We knew we were going to try for a baby.” And taped again undercover in 1997: “I can’t wait to see him again. We’re going to stay all day and night in bed – I can’t wait.” He claims Michael’s kids didn’t know who Debbie was until after his death. This is untrue, Paris has said that Michael would talk to them about Debbie. She also didn’t only meet him when Michael “spilled bleaching agents on his scrotum,” in early 93, she met him in 1981. The confidentiality agreement she signed after the divorce where she agreed not to talk about him or the kids in public was there to protect him, the kids, in case she wanted to hurt him in the future, and to protect Debbie from herself, as she’d already been caught speaking about both unawares before, it does not say anywhere Michael is not the father – Debbie and Debbie’s custody lawyer have repeatedly stated he was.

He claims Sneddon had 5 victims who were going to show up and testify for him, and only one did (Jason Francia; could go down as “the one the juror’s laughed at”), Jordan refused to testify against Michael, he was prepared to go to court in order not to have to testify. Randall doesn’t say that the other 3 supposed victims? Absolutely testified. They were the defense’s first witnesses; Wade, Brett, Mac. Randall also doesn’t note that it was these boys that the Chandler’s allege Michael had abused (because we all know Michael is the most selective pedophile in the world with all the kids he befriended and never abused) – kind of takes the sting out of that whole argument, huh? Neither does he go into the bizarre attempts of the prosecution attempting to convince their own supposed victims they had been molested. He doesn’t counter the alcohol in cans story, even though that one was easily debunked thanks to the prosecution’s own witnesses, the airline stewardesses.

There are so many other casual egregious errors throughout the book that it gave me a headache reading, just some – the proposed book circulated between Jermaine/Stacy was not written by Jermaine, but by Stacy (he’s admitted as much, but now blames others). In that Stacy Brown (he’s never properly met Michael, never worked for Michael, etc) proposal he claimed Michael had shocked the family in the manner he had held his 3 young nephews after their mother’s death – perhaps they were just shocked that Michael could fit his arms around 3 twenty year old men on a bed at the same time. Yes, they were full grown men, not children, so how would that work? Ask fanfic writer extraordinaire Stacy Brown. It did not circulate during the trial, but in 2006, which speaks volumes about its validity as attention hungry Stacy never mentioned it in 2005. Britney didn’t supposedly cheat on Kevin Federline with Wade Robson, she supposedly cheated on Justin Timberlake. Debbie Rowe didn’t have her first boyfriend at the age of 30, she had already been married/divorced by then (that was another moment of laughter from me). Jessica Simpson I doubt has ever visited Neverland. Michael didn’t move into Neverland in 1990. Michael was not called “liver lips” by his brothers. LaToya didn’t claim sexual abuse by her father in her book, she claimed it on the book tour. Michael never said he used any medication for his skin on Oprah. Uri Gellar is about as close to Michael as Martin Bashir. Corey Feldman was the one to ask about the book of skin diseases which involved STDs on Michael’s table, so Michael explained them to him, is Randall really suggesting skin diseases and STD’s were Michael’s hook for kids, really? Mike had many books on skin diseases because he had skin diseases. Michael Jordan says it was Michael himself who called him up to ask to do the music video, which makes me suspect that he may have known who he was on the set – just a suspicious though, don’t quote me as a fact on that, Randall (using Bob Jones’ as a source for anything will just embarrass you; ask Tom Sneddon). On that note, there is no mention of head licking in any Jordan case documents, that ridiculous story came entirely from Gavin, then was bizarrely copied by Bob Jones/Stacy Brown; their testimony about it on the witness stand was another moment of comedy gold. The Jacksons contacted Branca 2 days after Michael’s death because they knew he had the will, so how could they also claim they didn’t know they had a will that first week? He quotes Schaffel saying Michael was scheduled to perform in the United We Stand Benefit concert in Washington but Michael failed to show up, that’s odd as he also managed to perform “What More Can I Give?” at this same concert. He says TJ Jackson had 3 sons, he doesn’t. He calls Eddie Cascio by his brother’s name throughout the book. He mentions that Michael stayed with the Schleiter family after the trial and makes it seem like Michael only spent time with the son (who was in his 20s, not a kid), for some strange reason his sister Franziska who was there throughout is completely ignored (all the females in Michael’s life are given this treatment, no mention of any of the female kids he’d befriended too, even in Wade’s testimony Randall never mentions Wade said his sister also slept in the room with him, she testified to that too, so did Brett’s sister and Simone Jackson). He brings up the panic room in Michael’s bedroom – in reality that room came with the house, the original owner had installed it when he built it. He uses the locks on the door as a sign Michael wanted to keep people out; yeah dummy, that’s why it’s a panic room, do you normally have a welcome mat outside one of those? And if you think it’s odd he needed this room, ask yourself why the original owner, one of the richest men in California at the time, had wanted it. If he was not a deviant, why is Michael? He mentions online posts where fans wish death upon Evan but fails to mention the death threats and stalkers Michael had which are both a matter of police and FBI record and also can be found on gossipy sites online, which he used as sources. Evan Chandler did not kill himself on November 14/15th, he killed himself on the 5th and the media reported about it before November 17th, which is when he bizarrely claims Evan was found. The stuff about Michael buying Elizabeth Taylor for the Private Home Movies thing is from Schaffel, I’m amused the price of that supposed jewellery has gone up with each retelling.

He claims here that the Chandler’s attempted to keep a low profile after 1993. Does he know about the book deal they sought immediately after Michael’s insurance settled? How Ray Chandler admitted in court records that Evan moved him in right after the allegations broke just so he could write it? Does he know about how Ray sold stories about Jordan to the National Enquirer throughout the 90s on behalf of his brother? Did he think Evan Chandler’s 1996 lawsuit and demand for a record album to be released was a show of Evan seeking to be low key? Ray claimed he hoped the 2005 trial would bring vindication, why did he not ask why the Chandler’s didn’t seek this in 1994 with a criminal trial instead of book deals and frivolous lawsuits and demands for record contracts? Why didn’t he ask Ray why he didn’t take the stand in 2005? Why didn’t he ask Ray why he claims now he told Jordan to testify in 2005, when in 2005 during his various paid for media appearances he claimed he had no contact with either Evan or Jordan at the time, as well as claiming that in his subpoeanas? Was Ray lying? Which time was he lying? (At the time he also claimed Jordan was out of the country as an excuse for why he didn’t testify, but then he was photographed skiing in the US.) Does he know how on the audio recording before he claims Jordan had even confessed Evan said that he himself wanted to make it as public as possible? That recording was on July 8th; Jordan was supposedly drugged to confess on July 16th. How does that jibe with his claims it was the Chandler’s who wanted to keep it low key and Michael who made it a public issue? Why doesn’t he explain Evan’s failure to report MJ was molesting Jordan at June’s custody hearing, but the police only learned by the psychiatrist the next day? Is it because he didn’t want Michael to sue him for making false allegations? Why does he not realize the explanation given for why Jordan cut off contact with him in 2005 doesn’t make sense? If Evan suffered from cancer and manic depression, wouldn’t he sympathize with him? Why wouldn’t Jordan care about the man who rescued him from supposed “anal sex” when he died, a moment most people would forgive their parents any mistakes? Why does he act like the crazy fans made the Chandler’s stop from going to criminal court (not even in defense of poor cancer victim Gavin), when he can only cite one instance which involved a fan (Pfeiffer) just graffitying outside his dental place in 1994 and making phonecalls? Does he realize that the Arvizo’s, Francia – hell, the most hated of all, Diane Dimond, all have online accounts and recognizable faces and have managed to survive unscathed for years? Does he think it’s a bit strange the only person who’s hurt Jordan and scared him to the point of criminal action in all these years was his own father? How did Evan abandon his two younger kids but still lived with Jordan, who was apparently close to both? Why did he abandon the two kids with no money, but stuck with the millionaire son? Why does Ray Chandler need to research books on pedophiles, if Michael was one and he can just go by that? Why does he need to further inform himself of how they work? Who describes their nephew’s abuser as someone who just “had needs”? Do you think the relatives of Sandusky react the same way to him? He claims Evan stated in his petition to remove custody from June that she had “prostituted” her son to Michael; does he not think what Evan Chandler threatened on those tapes on July 8th (“It’ll be a massacre if I don’t get what I want”), how he had been demanding money in private over the idea his son was molested (“irrelevant to me”), just according to a psychiatrist who had not met any of them personally, and how he only wanted a civil lawsuit, a book deal, an album deal, a script deal (initially), and a further $60 million was not also prostitution? But according to Ray, this was “protecting” his son?

He claims Michael was paralytic with drugs almost the entire way through the last 20 years. It seems every drug story about Michael on Earth has been added here as a fact. It amuses me greatly that Michael was such an opiate addict, and yet managed to wean himself off these drugs entirely by the time he died, and the only drugs inside him were non opiate sedatives administered by Murray. Isn’t it a bit ironic that Michael could wean himself off this huge addiction to every drug known to man, but only died because of another non addictive drug? That none were found in his home or autopsy? That none are presented in any medical documents from the last months of his life, besides Demerol for the treatments with Klein, which the drug addict specialist in the trial even admitted did not fall into an addict’s level of use? He even copied and pasted a remark from a tabloid about how Michael shirked away from sunlight at one point as evidence for Michael’s drug use – in reality, Michael was photo sensitive because of his discoid lupus.

It makes me wonder if it’s possible to write a book about Michael where almost the entire source material doesn’t come from people who have been found to have lied about him in court cases, lawsuits or found to have stolen from him, considering the sources Randall mainly uses here: Tohme (stole $5,000,000 million from MJ), Schaffel (stole hundreds of thousands of dollars from Michael, planted negative stories about him in the press, Debbie Rowe amusingly recounted Schaffel’s creepiness in her testimony in 2005), Adrian McManus (successfully countersued by Michael; was found to have stolen toys from sick children & from her own nieces and nephews), Mark Lester (claimed to be Paris’s father 4 years before he’d been re-acquainted with Michael, even his ex wife came out and denounced him as a liar desperate for media attention), Matt Fiddes (only met Michael briefly after Blanket was born; known as a “vainglorious attention seeker” by Channel 4 producers) Howard Mann (has lost many lawsuits against the estate, blackmailed Michael’s mother into dodgy deals involving his kids), Ray Chandler brother to Evan (Michael subpoenaed him in 2004 demanding he show up with the evidence he claimed he had in his book; Ray refused and eventually he admitted he had no such info, his book was essentially fiction), Terry George (he wasn’t found out because rumors reached the LAPD, what nonsense, he had a gay sex chat line back then and when the scandal broke he seized on that to sell a story in The Sun for thousands of pounds, this is why anyone knows about him; FBI and DA didn’t find him credible, he’s changed his story a few times since – the one here is a new fancy retelling, he was and is still obsessed with Michael and even he admits Michael refused to take his calls, so much for grooming kids) Stacy Brown (admitted to lying in his book for money in his 2005 testimony; sued by juror’s for plagiarism after that, a habitual liar who admits he never even really met Michael), Bob Jones (admitted he had an axe to grind, admitted to lying about money in the trial, and yet his book is used here as gospel) and so on and so on. Were these the only people willing to speak to Randall? Or, more likely, were these the only people Randall wanted to hear about Michael from? Was he incapable of deducing which things were lies by the amount of evidence, or did he assume the things which were the most ghastly and often repeated (what sells more?) had to be true? Would he be shocked to discover not everyone around Michael was a liar and a thief and there were many, many decent sources he could’ve used? Did he just not care? Whatever the answer, in the end the result is an almost entirely fictional book.

Perhaps the author had the best intentions for this book (though I suspect, not for Michael). Perhaps he really believes the information he presented is fair and objective. Perhaps he felt this was all there was to the story. But I can’t understand why so many problematic sources were used as though they were absolutes, why so much information was not properly researched beyond tabloid articles, and why so much info has been seemingly intentionally misquoted. It comes across intentionally done and I can’t understand why.
I find it bewildering really that he will talk about Michael as being a good father – something even the liars and the thieves around him have all agreed upon, and yet people still fail to realize the way he was with his own children was how he was with every other child. It doesn’t take a genius to have to work that one out, but it’s an inconvenient truth for many, so instead we’re left with all the liars and thieves and rehashed The Sun articles, and can now count the willfully uninformed Randall Sullivan among them.


Now I ask you, who really comes across as more credible and knowledgable here, Mr. Sullivan or the “fan” who wrote this review? In fact, the above reviewer did such a knock-out job I am not so sure I even need to bother, as it would be pretty hard to top this or to do a more thorough job of debunking all of the nonsense in this book!

I will repeat, just to be fair, I have not read the book yet. But based on the reviews and everything I have heard so far, and having seen Randy Sullivan’s Huffington Post interview, I feel like I can offer up a pretty fair assessment of this book’s contents. And a lot of it bothers me, for reasons that have nothing to do with my “fandom” of Michael Jackson. I am a journalist myself, even though I may not have the credentials of Randall Sullivan. I haven’t worked for Rolling Stone, or any other major music publication. But I have probably interviewed just as many people who knew Michael Jackson. Why is it that I have managed to walk away with a completely different perspective? Why is it that none of my “sources” have talked about prosthetic noses, or have given me the impression of some presexual virgin? Perhaps because, when all is said and done, we did not approach our subjects with the same agendas. Or perhaps because of who those “sources” are. I found it funny-in an unintentionally scoffing kind of way-when Sullivan mentioned in the interview that some of Michael’s friends and family simply wouldn’t talk to him. Which, of course, begs the big question he then so neatly skirts-WHY? Hmm. Yes, why indeed.

As it turns out, his major sources are no huge surprise-Tohme Tohme, Deiter Weisner, Marc Schaffel, Stacy Brown, etc, etc. I am not saying these people may not have some relevant things to say about Michael (and, heck, I still have some begrudging respect for Schaffel for the wonderful gift that was Michael Jackson’s Private Home Movies) but it doesn’t take much putting together of two and two to figure out where the bulwark of Sullivan’s information was coming from.

I would also like to add a word of caution to anyone who feels compelled to buy this book just because they are so anti-Jackson family that they will support anything that paints the family in a negative light. I will admit that after all of the events that took place last July, I have been forced to re-think some of my own long-held positions and beliefs when it comes to certain members of Michael’s family. But as always, we have to keep in mind that we simply don’t know all of the inner workings of this family’s life. While the Jacksons take some hard punches in Sullivan’s book, we have to ask the  bigger question: Who is really being hurt the most?

If you are among some small and minority percentage of anachristic Michael Jackson fans who still want to believe he was an asexual, skin bleaching “possible” pedophile and general, all around psychological wreck of a human being, this is probably the book for you. But for all the rest of us who have moved on into the 21st century and have discovered a wonderfully complex human being and artist, probably not so much.

No, it isn’t fair to judge a book I haven’t read-yet. But I have had ample opportunity to observe Sullivan’s arrogance, his continued evasiveness of the tough questions, and his condescending attitude towards the most knowledgable people of all when it comes to all things MJ-his fans. Not the blindly obsessive; not the lunatic fringe; but those of us who love Michael in all his flawed and human complexity. This has nothing to do with some desire to maintain a false ideal. It simply has everything to do with expecting fairness and accuracy in reporting. Mr. Sullivan calls his book a “sympathetic portrayal” of Jackson but should a “sympathetic portrayal” be one that reduces his image, his entire legacy and complexity as a human being and artist to the same old tabloid caricature that we have spent years advancing away from?

Don’t be fooled! Remember, Thomas O’Caroll (aka Carl Toms) claimed his book was a “sympathetic portrayal” as well!

The time has long past when fans were so grateful for anything that was half-heartedly positive that we forgave shoddy research, overlooked egregious errors, and put up with pseudo, armchair pontificating. If there are still those misguided few who genuinely think all of this outrage is simply because fans only want positive books about Michael Jackson, think again. It’s not about needing him to be perfect, but it is about allowing him to have his humanity. In closing, I found this quote from yet another commentor on the Huffington Post site to be the most apt of all. This was in response to a commentor who questioned why so many were upset about a book that simply discusses Michael’s “vulnerabilities”:

“We’re not talking about vulnerabilities, we’re talking about letting the man have his own goddamn nose, his race, his sexuality. Basic human things.”-Mirella_Conti.

Amen, sister! Amen!

UPDATE: (11/23/12): When Randy Sullivan appeared on The Katie Couric show this week, he was challenged to address the issue of Michael’s “prosthetic nose” and what had been stated in the autopsy report. This was his response:

“I have MJ’s autopsy report (which is cited in my Chapter Notes) and have read it closely. I’ve also seen the photos of MJ’s autopsy, which show the condition of his body at death in graphic detail, and I am basing my description to a substantial degree on those. The autopsy report in no sense states that MJ’s nose was intact, merely that he had a nose. That nose was, as I described, so cut away that it was little more than a nub of bone with two nostrils surrounded by ridges of shriveled cartilage. I didn’t say he had no nose, just not much of one. And that is the same description that has been publicly made by several doctors who examined or treated him in the last five years of his life. Anyone who doubts this can find a photograph of himself without a prosthetic that MJ allowed to be taken, widely available online. Compare that photo to photos of him in public appearances and there can be no question that he was wearing a prosthetic.”

This is allegedly an official response made by someone in the LA County Coroner’s office, after they had been contacted to verify Mr. Sullivan’s statements made on the program:

“As far as Mr. Sullivan’s book information he might have a copy of the report since it is a matter of public record, however I can assure you that he does not have the autopsy photos or other photos involving Mr. Jackson. The photos have been secured, and the location is only known to two of us that have them. I can tell you that Mr. Jackson did in fact have a nose and that it was nothing like described by Mr. Sullivan. I guess he just wants to sell books…”


The ones who contacted the coroner’s office have posted this very interesting video on Youtube. You can draw your own conclusions, but I am inclined to believe them, as their findings are consistent with everything that Randall Sullivan has already been called out on. Sometimes all it takes is a little simple fact checking to uncover the truth.


90 thoughts on “"Crazy" vs. Ignorant Arrogance: A Rebuttal of Sullivan and Hill”

  1. Thanks for this, Raven!! I agree that the attitudes displayed by Hill and Sullivan revealed that they see Michael and his fans as a bunch of mildly amusing insects. I don’t get why Sullivan would write a 700 page book about a man he does not admire or take seriously, unlessit is just $$$. He says it was an assignment from Rolling Stone, so it wasn’;t even his idea, and it shoiws. He lacks seriousness, earnestness, authenticity, and credibility. This is sad b/c he might have had something worthwhile saying for all his trouble. I think he is mad at the fans for roasting him on Amazon and on fan sites.

    On the other hand, although I have not read the book, I have heard that his discussion of the 2005 trial is excellent, but why he needs to shoot himself in the foot on these MANY interviews is beyond me.

    The stuff about Michael’s nose, his sexuality, his mental state is the worst. As far as the tape on his nose, I read that due to various medical conditions (lupus, the various treatments), he wore tape over his nose to stop swelling. Don’t know if anyone else has come across this. Many things Michael did, like the umbrellas, were based on his legitimate medical needs, even though people just took them as affectations. Take his back pain, he fell 50 feet during a concert–hello?–and yet people thought he was fooling in the 2005 trial when he had severe back spasms.

    As far as body language, during the interview he has this silly smirk on his face, as if he is saying wow–this Michael Jackson is so amusing, such a funny, strange man, I just think he is a bit of a joke, don’t you? And so are his fans.


    1. “…I have heard that his discussion of the 2005 trial is excellent…”

      This is why, again, I really do not like to do book reviews prematurely because if the author DOES have strong points, I like to be able to acknowledge that. This is why I stressed this as more of a rebuttal to the HP interview, rather than a proper book review, which I will do later provided that, once I have read it, I still consider it worth my time or readers’. If there were things I got wrong-if I have prematurely misjudged Sullivan-I will certainly be willing to rectify that. But I honestly don’t think I have gotten much wrong. The reviewer I quoted from Amazon is obviously a knowledgable fan who also, obviously, HAS read the book, and her review frankly, I believe, says it all

  2. The other thing that really made me mad was his dismissal of Michael’s later work–saying his high point was the music he did with Quincy–this is the standard line on Michael. Randall Sullivan, you blew it! Your book is a mess–it needed major editing that it didn’t get. You misjudged your audience. You don’t understand Michael Jackson enough to write about him–or his fans.

  3. Thank you Raven!Great post …
    I had the courage to read a large part of the book and I would like to say that I find really disgusting the tone with which Sullivan discusses some topics.
    I do not know if it’s the fault of the Italian translator but I read, I felt the psychological nuances that brought me back to the shameful media climate during the 2005 trial.

    As if in the background and between the lines, there was always a “Wacko Jacko” overt, undisputed.
    And on the other hand as Raven says, “As it turns out, his major sources are no huge surprise-Tohme Tohme, Deiter Weisner, Marc Schaffel, Stacy Brown, etc, etc. I am not saying these people may not have some relevant things to say about Michael (and, heck, I still have some begrudging respect for Schaffel for the wonderful gift that was Michael Jackson’s Private Home Movies) but it does not take much putting together of two and two to figure out where the bulwark of Sullivan’s information was coming from. ”
    What could you get?

    And one last thing: who can tell to Mr. Sullivan that the nose, virginity, bleaching, the gossip, ect, we do not care anything, it is now a long time that Michael is out of it and no one can make him evil.
    He is now what we want to really: his art, his music, his being a special gift of heaven.
    We want to buy and read books that reinforce these themes, of what Sullivan wrote we have had it up for years and years.It was more than enough.

    1. This is exactly the point that most of the critics are making. There was a time when there was an audience for these sensationalistic stories about Michael Jackson, but that time is passe’. It’s old territory and no one cares about rehashing it anymore, unless the writer has something new or revelatory to say. From all appearances, Sullivan does not. The only really new material he had was the stuff about Janet, the estate, and the burial deposit, which he played up by publiciizing in the wake of the July “kidnapping” scandal as it was guaranteed publicity for the book.

      The general public has grown bored with these sensationalistic stories about Michael Jackson, and have long moved on. And the fans are too knowledgable and savvy to be fooled. What audience does he have? He has alienated the fans and, judging from the reviews, the rest don’t care. So what is left?

  4. I am seriously getting tired about this all. If we ignore these stupid people and not even a single copy sells then may be then they will finally STOP! Because we pay attention they thrive.

    And I am very sorry Raven, u had to write this post with your busy schedule and not another interesting post that I so look forward to. Now another week without an interesting blog post! :-/

    @ Nicoletta, I agree with u. Someone tell these sorry excuses for humans THAT WE (THE FANS) DO NOT CARE if he had a nose or not, fake hair or not, false voice or not! We love Michael Jackson warts and all and nothing will change that.

    1. Not to worry, this is the Thanksgiving holiday week so I will have some time off. I plan to have my post on the Spike Lee movie up by Wednesday. We will be turning to a much cheerier subject!

  5. “We love Michael Jackson warts and all and nothing will change that.” BlueLotus

    “And one last thing: who can tell to Mr. Sullivan that the nose, virginity, bleaching, the gossip, ect, we do not care anything, it is now a long time that Michael is out of it and no one can make him evil.
    He is now what we want to really: his art, his music, his being a special gift of heaven.
    We want to buy and read books that reinforce these themes, of what Sullivan wrote we have had it up for years and years.It was more than enough.” Nicoletta


  6. Thank you, Raven, for this. All of it had to be said.

    Regarding the court appearance in 2002 (Marcel Avram case) Frank Cascio writes in his book (p. 246):
    “As it often happened, Michael didn’t sleep at all the night before his appearance. The next morning he was a mess – unshaven, his hair disheveled. He walked from the car to the courtroom wearing a tape over his nose. The tape helped him breathe…”
    The next page he talks of speculating journalists who “also made the ridiculous claim that his nose was falling off from excessive plastic surgery”.
    “He liked his nose, and as far as his appearance at the Avram case hearing was concerned, that people would actually say in all seriousness that his nose was about to fall off was absurd.” (p. 248)
    He also talks about nose strips that everyone can buy at any pharmacy and that they helped Michael breathe (I assume they could be those nasal strips that are sometimes used by athletes in sports competitions because they help them breathe).

    I don’t get it why there are still authors who try to tell the public such ridiculous nonsense. I mean Sullivan is really making a fool of himself. Or is it possible that certain circles wish to maintain all these myths for some reason and he gets paid for telling them again and again (to keep the lies alive)?

    1. I just think there is a very determined Old Guard who refuse to let the tabloid caricature that THEY created die. They are gradually being replaced by younger, more open-minded journalists and hopefully one day soon their reign will be completely over, but as long as their last vestiges remain, we will still have trash like this.

  7. HI Raven this is Lynette from Michael Jackson Vindication. I am in the process of reading the book now. I have finished the first part that is almost completely about Schaffel.I did a search of the PDF version of the book and he is listed no less than 408 times.Other reference points that he uses are…now hold on…Desiree Hill form desireespeaks so listen.She is listed 4 times in the bibliography. His point was that she made good points about Jimmy Safechuck not getting married at Neverland and points out the discrepencies in LaToya’s statements them and now. VMJ is listed as well but not in a favorable light as is David (not by name) who he says “outed” Gavin after finding his MySpace page ( he doesn’t do well with the details. He admits that most of it is his opinion. Butthe most heartbreaking thing he writes is that Katherine begged him not to say that Michael was a pedophile.He doesn’t but what he says and does instead in fact says that he does believe it and when he favorably lists Desiree that tells me everything I need to know. Randall Sullivan is to Katherine Jackson what Martin Bashir was to Michael.

      1. I’m reading this comment for the first time and the very idea of quoting the likes of Desiree is beyond me. Ignorant, strongly agenda driven, rude, nasty, not to mention her inability to recognize the basic concept of civil discourse unless you flatter and agree with her. To quote and legitimize such a mess tells me all I need to know as well.

    1. This is shocking and so sad. I hope it was not because of Mesereaus endorsement of the book that KJ was lured into talking with this guy. TMs respons is typical lawyers talk, the average Joe will not even understand what he is saying.
      I totally disagree with him that this hatefest will help restore Michaels reputation. I wonder if TM still thinks the same after hearing sullivans horrible insinuations about KJ.
      Trashtalking Michaels family is as disgusting as trashtalking Michael. its sensationalism and another nail in his coffin.
      I have never before heard of a deceased treated with so much contempt and so little respect as Michael is, disected and reduced to his damn nose as if that is what defined him.
      Let the man rest in peace for Gods sake.

    1. The dark pigmentation is something I began to notice and pay close attention to long ago. In many photos, especially those up close or where he is not wearing much make up, it is very noticeable. To be honest, my first instinct when I began to notice this was to attribute it to decayed cartilage (necrosis) and I started to wonder if some of the tabloid stories weren’t at least partially true. I never believed he wore a prosthetic but I did start to wonder about the extent of the cartilage damage. But after observing many photos, I am now convinced this was, in fact, the result of dark pigmentation that had remained on his nose. In some pics it is much more noticeable than others. In several of the pics used in Frank Cascio’s book, for example, it is very obvious.


  8. Just saw this response from T. Mez:

    “Thank you for your email. I respectfully disagree with your approach to Mr. Sullivan’s book.

    First of all, I am less concerned with issues like Vitiligo, plastic surgery and sexuality than the hideous, false charges of pedophilia. The main question, for me, is how to restore Michael Jackson’s damaged reputation.

    In my opinion, labeling one as a child molester is worse than being called a murderer. However, please remember, the authorities called Michael Jackson a particularly horrific form of child molester. They said that he took a cancer-stricken child and filled him with alcohol to “soften him up” for sexual abuse. They also claimed that Michael tried to tear children away from their families. They charged him with abducting children and falsely imprisoning them. Michael was also charged with conspiracy to extort the family of the child he allegedly abused.

    There are three general groups of people that are relevant to this issue. They are:

    Group One: The Michael Jackson fan community;

    Group Two: People who enjoy Michael Jackson’s music and art but suspect him of being a pedophile;

    Group Three: Individuals who either don’t like Michael Jackson’s music or are indifferent to him, yet believe he was a child molester.

    The main question for me is “How to convince Groups Two and Three that Michael Jackson was not a pedophile?”

    With all due respect to you and the Michael Jackson community, Group One has virtually no influence on Groups Two and Three. When supporters of Michael Jackson claim that he was not a child molester, people in Groups Two and Three give little credence to their position. The reaction is simply “Who cares what they have to say. They are Michael Jackson fans. What do you expect?”

    Obviously, there is a similar reaction to my position. I know that Michael Jackson was not a pedophile. But, unfortunately, the general reaction from people in Groups Two and Three is “What do you expect? Mesereau was his lawyer.”

    Randall Sullivan’s book will do more to dispel these horrific, false charges than anything that you or I have to say.

    When Michael Jackson supporters state their beliefs in Michael Jackson’s innocence, they are usually “preaching to the choir.”

    Mr. Sullivan’s book, with his conclusions that Michael Jackson was not a pedophile, has an enormous capacity to reach a large audience that continues to attack Michael’s reputation. This is because Mr. Sullivan did not approach his work as a Michael Jackson fan or supporter. His work clearly demonstrates that he is willing to address troubling, controversial issues in Michael Jackson’s life, as well as present relevant information that certain individuals don’t like. For this reason, his conclusions that Michael was not a child molester can have more persuasive weight.

    On a personal note, I don’t like censorship or group boycotts. I believe that certain individuals who are criticized in this book are orchestrating a negative campaign. Some of the negative comments suggest that the critics did not even read the book. This is disturbing to me.

    You say that questioning the sexuality of a “famous, talented, powerful black man is racism”. Do you think this is worse than calling a famous, talented black man a pedophile? If you do, we are in very strong disagreement.

    I don’t judge people by their sexuality. Nor do I judge them by their race, religion or spiritual beliefs. Michael told me he was heterosexual and I believe him. But if he were not, it would make no difference to me.

    Again, I believe we both share the same goals. We both want to restore Michael Jackson’s reputation because we know what a wonderful, kind and talented person he was. We simply have a different view of priorities.

    Thank you for sharing your views with me.


    Tom Mesereau


    1. I saw that. This was what I responded on Deborah’s page (with some editing, since I screwed up my first comment):

      I am sorry, but I still disgaree heartedly but respectfully with this statement. Yes, Mr. Mesereau makes some good points but IMHO, based on everything I have heard Mr. Sullivan say, there are just too many egregious errors and nods to the same old lies and tabloid journalism that destroyed, or nearly helped destroy, Michael’s legacy in the first place. On the one hand, this helps to better explain his endorsement but I don’t think this means we should be satisfied with a half baked pie. I, for one, desire to see nothing less than the FULL respect given to Michael that he deserves, and that is with his humanity fully intact-that starts with belief in his innocence, yes, but that is still only a part of the bigger picture, even if albeit the most important part. But on the other hand, having people continue to think that he was bleaching his skin; that he was some weirdly regressed, asexual being; that he had mental issues; that he had no nose, etc, etc is not doing his legacy any favors. I don’t believe in censorship either, but I think we are within our rights to express our concerns about this book.

      1. Raven, with all due respect to all opinions, I fully agree with you!
        Here it seems as if you say, “as long as you stop judging MJ a pedophile, everything else is well.”
        I try to express myself in English, I’m sorry.

        So, if the community’s number one got no power on communities two and three, I think just the opposite: that opinions so cryptic, ambiguous, alluring and very confused, drag people just thinking the worst! The Sullivan’s book is in my opinion extremely negative and dangerous precisely because of his lack of clarify of opinion, of its ambiguity, its lack of in-depth research of impartial sources.

        It is a book that can be able to influence the public two and three!

      2. Almost no one outside group 1 accepts that MJ is NONE of the following: pedophile, gay, “virgin”, impotent male…

        In other words, he may not be a pedophile but he’s either a gay, a “virgin”, or impotent and he is not his children’s biological father.

        The non-sense about his sexuality is not fair even to LMP, how could someone like her would marry MJ to be his platonic wife?

        It all started with Oprah!

  9. I don’t agree with mesereau on that book, but I agree with the rest of what he said. By the way I have the kindle version, and the part on the allegations isn’t that bad. I think he was trying to be neutral. He used Fischer & Ray Chandler.

  10. he said in the book that MJ used Porcelana cream during the seventies. This what I found about that cream.

    “Back in the early 90′s a doctor told me to try a product called Porcelana. It’s a skin lightening cream that helps fade scars from acne, pregnancy and sun damage. It’s also supposed to fade freckles and other dark spots. Back then, the product was pretty costly so I never bought it. I had always wondered if it would work for me but at that time in my life I just couldn’t justify the expense and so I just went without.”


    1. Even if Michael used Porcelana (which I do not know) it can’t just automatically be assumed it was for the purpose of skin lightening. It is a well known fact that he suffered horribly from acne, and Porcelana, as this article states, has a reputation as a very effective remedy for acne.

      I believe its effect as a skin lightener would be minimal at best; I couldn’t imagine it being any more effective than a self-tanning product, which can darken the skin by a shade or so but that is about the extent of it.

        1. @ Shelley.
          ‘not that bad’ is not good enough when it comes to allegations of child molestation,which Mesereau said are worse than to be called a murderer. What purpose does it serve to drop a statement about bleaching cream without explanation.
          What Sullivan is doing is a form of framing and conditioning. Summarize a heap of unfavourable facts about a person, all maybe true in itself, or SOUNDING true, but taken out of context and presented in a convincing way . The effect is that the negativity will stick and this person or anything related to him will be associated with negativity = then allegations must be true. Throw in some verivyable positive statements, twisted quotes from Michaels own mother and an endorsement by Mesereau to gain credibility, add to it the same kind of framing that he is fucked up but please feel sorry for him cause he has a fucked up family as a way to justify the alledged ‘deviant’ behaviour, – a damaging meme even some fans like to repeat-, and again it is confirmed what the public opinion and beliefs have been of Michael Jackson for the last 30 years.

          Mesereau is true that we are preaching for the choir and that he does not judge people by their sexuality and neither do we. However the rest of the public who are already maliciously biased about MJ does. And when his acquaintances say they dont judge him by his sexuality and the public doesnt know what to make of it, then he might as well have had sexual preference for children.
          I dont agree with fans who bring up facts that he was married, had relationships with women, has children, was a good father, his belief in God or his huge collection of heterosexual pornographic magazines to counter the allegations.
          Those things do not exclude pedophilia. Most child molesters have perfect families and jobs,often great parents to their own children and are respectable members of their society and are charismatic, but still psychopats.
          I think its more convincing to bring up the facts AND context of the accusations and why there is so much evidence to counter the Chandlers and Arvizos credibility.
          These attacks will not stop as long as there is a market for it and media need sensational stories for ratings.
          Its time for fans to make our own documentary with the help of professionals. Or else Michael Jackson will forever be labeled the greatest artist and entertainer of all time, but an alledged child molester.

          1. Yes. The main problem is that, based on what Sullivan is saying in the media, he is NOT doing anything to dispute the allegations in a credible way. He is leaving it open for speculation and when you have him making crack comments such as, “Only Lisa Marie and Jordan know the truth about his sexuality,” what conclusion are viewers who know little about MJ supposed to draw? He is, from all I’ve gathered, making this into an either/or arguement, and I commented as such on Katie Couric’s website. “Either he had sex with Lisa Marie and/or he had sex with Jordan Chandler.” Period. End of story. Of course, real truth is always much, much more complex than that. He seems to have this opinion that the only “credible” women worth believing about Michael’s sexuality are his high profile, celebrity girlfriends. While it may be true that others who have made the claim cannot necessarily “prove” they are telling the truth (I guess without pics, lol!) nor can accusers like Jordan Chandler, so why would his word carry anymore validity than some anonymous groupie or girlfriend? It’s good that the book may be presenting balanced information, but if the writer’s bias is leaning towards doubt, then so will the reader’s.

            I know that at least some of what he says is probably true based on things that some of Michael’s friends have likewise told me, such as his insecurities about his appearance. Some things I have kept confidential because they were told to me confidentially; not because they were “bad” things, necessarily, but because they are personal. These are not the sort of things I necessarily have a problem with in the book, although it still begs the question of why some of these issues are so imortant to hash out and parade once again before the public. Michael’s insecurities about his appearance, no doubt, may be a key to understanding him, but it is such common knowledge as to be almost cliche’ by now.

            There will always be questions about his appearance because even future generations of fans will know that his looks changed, and will wonder why. I think it’s enough to know that he had the insecurities, and made the changes that he did. But I hope that a day will come when future generations will simply see him as Michael Jackson-regardless of what era they are looking at.

            Okay, forgive me that I got off on a tangent, but to get back on track, what I wanted to say is that if I sincerely believed Sullivan was doing a knock-out job negating the allegations, I’m sure I could forgive a good deal else. But I’m just not seeing it. I heard that Mesereau admitted he had only read the book in part, and June’s comment confirms that. If that is true, he should never have given it five stars without thoroughly checking its contents first. I suspect that Sullivan probably gave him a very charming song and dance in his interviews, and convinced him he was sincere. Martin Bashir was very good at that sort of thing as well.

            I realize that Meserau’s relationship with Michael was a professional one as his attorney. I believe that’s why he sincerely feels this is the most important issue the book addresses. But in my opinion, these tabloid sensationalisms continue to do just as much damage, and will add to the public’s doubt over his guilt or innocence. I’m somewhat surprised that Mesereau, as the intelligent man I took him to be, would not “get” that. I feel like what has happened in this case is that he has formed somewhat of a personal relationship with the author, and I’m sure probably thinks he is a very nice man. But that doesn’t necessarily make this a very good book, nor his intentions sincere.

            But like I said, if he was doing a truly credible job debunking the allegations, I could overlook a lot. Charles Thomson and I certainly do not agree on all issues, but I could care less. He is credible, convincing, and kicks rear when it comes to debating ANYONE on the facts of the Chandler and Arvizo cases. All Sullivan seems to be doing (again, judging from what I have seen and heard so far) is waffling back and forth, saying “maybe” this and “maybe” that, and leaving the door wide open for speculation.

        2. I’m extending the benefit of the doubt on the vitiligo issue because many of the reviews on Amazon have said that he does not dispute that in his book (although he does seem to raise the issue of how the vitiligo was induced, and that is still an issue of concern).

          1. No, he clearly said MJ had vitiligo and lupus. He spoke about studies about the link between childhood trauma and lupus.

            He also used Stacy Brown and his spabook word but he also have Howard King saying that MJ was tolerant offre everybody.

            In my opinion, that book is like Tarroberelli. You have to take everything with à grain of salt.

            I think what happened with Mesereau is that they spent lots of times together. Sullivan said he went through the whole 2005 transcript with him

  11. In the film Almost Famous, writer-director Cameron Crowe takes a sentimental look back at his days as a teenage writer for Rolling Stone magazine. That career was in jeopardy because the fact checker at RS couldn’t verify a couple of minor details in a story he wrote about a rock star.

    Yet Randall Sullivan is allowed to publish excerpts in RS and a 700 page book filled with errors, omissions, and outright lies. He couldn’t do it without the collusion of the publishing industry, abetted by the television programs that he’s appeared on. We need to face facts – there is an ongoing high level effort in this country to destroy Michael, even in death.

    1. I loved Almost Famous, but that is Hollywood fiction, unfortunately. In reality, Rolling Stone has never had a reputation for accuracy or fair reporting. They have always allowed their writers cart blanche, it seems, when they have an axe to grind with a particular celebrity. It’s been that way since 1967.

  12. This is a great post, thank you Raven; I’ve been following the reviews of Sullivan’s book on Amazon.com, including Mesereau’s review. I happened to see his review almost immediately after it was posted and could not believe it was really THE Tom Mesereau. I asked him by email and received no response. Went out of town a few days, came back today to see that yes, the review does appear to be from THE Tom Mesereau, who admitted he didn’t read the entire book, and thinks Sullivan stated that Michael was innocent of the charges. However, there’s an interview on Nightline where Sullivan tells Terry Moran he’s not 100% sure or similar language. With all respect to Mr. Mesereau, and even if he (TMez) does interpret Sullivan as believing Michael was innocent of the charges, Mesereau’s “dismissal” of Sullivan’s other distortions, is harmful and damaging.

    I was just plain angry at Dr. Hill’s interview of Sullivan, particulary when sanemjfan skyped in. Dr. Hill didn’t give him anytime at all. I don’t think Dr. Hill was even prepared for the interview or for intelligent questions as those proposed by sanemjfan, and, if possible, had done less research than Sullivan!

    I’ve been reading Michael’s printed and videod interviews over the past several months and have decided I’m sticking with them as they reflect the true measure of the man.

    1. Oh yes, absolutely, Sullivan is for sure more knowledgable than Dr. Hill, without question. That still doesn’t make him right about a lot of things, but yes, he smoked Hill on a couple of issues.

      I commented pretty extensively on the Mesereau endorsement in my response to Sina, so I won’t repeat myself again, but I’m just a little shocked and saddened that he would put his stamp of appoval on this book without throroughly checking it out. That is like giving Bashir a stamp of approval without having seen the whole documentary, all because Bashir might have approached one and won them over with his “good intentions” of allowing people to see what Michael was “really” like…and, of course, we all know what happened there.

      I still have the utmost respect for Mesereau but I’m just a little baffled by this, honestly.

      1. Sorry for nit picking, this is the last thing I say
        If Mesereau thinks that he as Michaels lawyer will not be convincing to group 2 and 3, but an independent author will, than his endorsement of the book and his 5 star review to encourage people to buy the book will not make a difference . It does not look good that a lawyer writes a review for a book which he helped to write and which he endorses , about a case he defended and won, but a great part of the public is not convinced. Mesereaus stance is that the end justifies the means and if along the way there is colleteral damage, so be it. Thats pretty ruthless and poor judgement on his side. Or maybe Sullivan did pull a Bashir on him.
        He should have just stayed Michaels brilliant lawyer who we all adore and not become a crazy fan – like us.

      2. Yes, excellent post Raven!! Sullivan is a fool and with all of his non-sense it looks to me as if he is one more person looking for a spot light to stand under and using Michael as a tool to get attention he doesn’t deserve. How many of us would know who this person was otherwise? Makes me ill.

        Just an added note, although someone may have already pointed this out…

        Raven said, “Sullivan was also quoted in another interview as saying that Lisa Marie doesn’t know what sex is.”

        Really?? Obsurd observation since she already had two children WITH her first husband before she married Michael. Interesting detail to miss!?!

      3. Yes, the Mesereau endorsement baffles me as well. The only explanation I can think of is that TMez, a very busy man I’m sure, probably gets many requests for book endorsements and probably receives short sections of a manuscript to review. And I would imagine those sections relate to the trial somehow. As long as the representation is factually accurate I imagine he will then give an endorsement. So for me, he is really endorsing a small section of the book and not the book in its entirety. Of course this can be problematic in the long run but it’s the only explanation that could possible make sense to me. Please correct me if I’m wrong.

  13. On Nighline (there is a clip on youtube), Sullivan says when directly asked–“I don’t think he was” (a pedo). “I wish I could say with 100% certainty he wasn’t. ” He then goes on to talk about “a shadow of doubt.”

    So please tell me how is that refuting the charges of child molestation–it isn’t. I think Sullivan did the same to Tez at Bashir did to Michael: said one thing to his face and turned around and said to the world (printed, and spews out in talk shows) the opposite. He is another tabloid muckraker.

    Yes, Sofia,”It all started with Oprah!”

  14. @Sina,

    “‘not that bad’ is not good enough when it comes to allegations of child molestation,which Mesereau said are worse than to be called a murderer.”

    I don’t agree with you on that. It’s the only thing you can do. if you want to be fair you have to cover the other side of the story.

  15. Hi Raven;

    Frankly, I was very disappointed that Mr. Mesereau gave this book a 5 star rating, especially since he did not read the whole thing. For a man of Mr. Mesereau’s character, who as we know, was totally prepared for the 2005 trial, this just did not seem like something he would do. I saw the Marc Lamont Hill interview and the Katie Couric interview with Sullivan and the fact that he uses Ray Chandler as a source says it all to me. Chandler says the “family” still “believe” it happened and are very angry and bitter. Well, the “family” had the chance to testify in 2005, so apparently, they were not quite angry or bitter enough. You know, there is enough information out there for anyone with half a brain to see that Michael was totally innocent. Sullivan states that he has doubts – much the same as LMP, as she wasn’t in the room. Oh Please!! Using that logic, if someone said her father was a pedofile, she would have to say the same thing – I don’t know, I wasn’t in the room. My apologies to Elvis, but really, you get to know someone’s character and it gets tiring of hearing the “doubt” angle all the time. I never met Michael, but I know in my heart he was not capable of such a crime. There is enough evidence to absolutely prove it. Someone should not have to spend their life or after they have passed, their legacy should not be tainted with this horrible lie. I would love to see Sullivan debate with Charles Thomson and Sanemjfan. They would mop the floor with him.

    1. I would love to see Sullivan debate with Charles Thomson and Sanemjfan. They would mop the floor with him.

      Absolutely! That’s why I can’t abide by the arguement that the Sullivan book does such a knock-out job debunking the allegations. If Sullivan was making a case for his innocence on that kind of level, I would gladly overlook a good deal else.

    2. Susan said, “I would love to see Sullivan debate with Charles Thomson and Sanemjfan. They would mop the floor with him.”

      That would be heaven to behold!!

  16. Below is copied from the Vindicatemj site about the claims by Sullivan that Michael’s nose was completely cut away and was just a ridge of cartilege. First there is his statement on Katie Couric in response to a question:

    “@KatieShow why didn’t he refer to MJ’s autops rpt which says his nose was intact instead of spreading the lie that he only had nostrils.
    15 Nov 12
    Randall’s Response:
    I have MJ’s autopsy report (which is cited in my Chapter Notes) and have read it closely. I’ve also seen the photos of MJ’s autopsy, which show the condition of his body at death in graphic detail, and I am basing my description to a substantial degree on those. The autopsy report in no sense states that MJ’s nose was intact, merely that he had a nose. That nose was, as I described, so cut away that it was little more than a nub of bone with two nostrils surrounded by ridges of shriveled cartilage. I didn’t say he had no nose, just not much of one. And that is the same description that has been publicly made by several doctors who examined or treated him in the last five years of his life. Anyone who doubts this can find a photograph of himself without a prosthetic that MJ allowed to be taken, widely available online. Compare that photo to photos of him in public appearances and there can be no question that he was wearing a prosthetic.
    As far as Mr. Sullivan’s book information he might have a copy of the report since it is a matter of public record, however I can assure you that he does not have the autopsy photos or other photos involving Mr. Jackson. The photos have been secured, and the location is only known to two of us that have them. I can tell you that Mr. Jackson did in fact have a nose and that it was nothing like described by Mr. Sullivan. I guess he just wants to sell books…”

    This official is not named, which is unfortunate but maybe the person needs to protect his/her identity so he/she is not thrust into a media frenzy.

  17. Here’s the link to the vindicatemj discussion of Sullivan’s book, where the comments I copied appear. I guess it’s possible RS saw the autopsy photos b/c so much stuff has been leaked, but according to this official from the coroner’s office, no way.


    I just think RS is doing more damage to Michael’s memory by spreading this no nose stuff. If it could be definitely proved he is wrong, that would be great. It just creates another ‘we don’t really know’ nightmare, such as the case with so many things, and people just throw up their hands and don’t know what to think. We are trying to create a positive picture and here he comes along with more tabloid accusations to add to the pile.

    1. I believe the only “autopsy” photos Sullivan could possibly have seen were the two tragic images we all saw during Murray’s trial.

  18. Raven, I heard that Dr. Treacy had put a review on Amazon, so went to check it out, and see that Amazon has (temporarily I guess) pulled Sullivan’s book from its offerings! It says “Item Under Review While this item is available from other marketplace sellers on this page, it is not currently offered by Amazon.com because customers have told us there may be something wrong with our inventory on the item, the way we are shipping it or the way it’s described here. (Thanks for the tip!) We are working to fix the problem as quickly as possible.”

    Very interesting development. Perhaps Barnes and Noble will do likewise!

    1. I checked that out earlier today. Interesting development. I don’t know what it means, though, or what it may portend. I suspect this is likely a temporary matter. Perhaps Amazon received enough complaints about the book to force them to at least have a second look. I don’t think any attempts at banning it, however, will work. While we may legitimately question some of the book’s contents-and those contents may be controversial- it does not in any way fall into the category of books that are usually banned, such as obscene, pornographic, etc.

      I do not condone censorship and personally would never back any attempt to have the book banned, MUCH as I disagree with it. Readers should have the right to make up their own minds. What I advocate is spreading the truth. Write reviews, let people know what we think of this book, yes. INFORM them so that readers can make their own educated decision. But don’t take away their right to read it IF THEY WANT. That has always been my approach to these things, and will continue to be.

      On the other hand, with something like the Thomas O’Carroll book, I absolutely did not feel bad about participating in the campaign to have that book’s distribution pulled, as O’Carroll was a convicted pedophile and his slanderous book was as much an advocate for pedophilia as it was slanderous to Michael. THAT is a whole other can of worms.

      I think any attempt at having this book banned will only result in making fans look like the “crazed lunatics” that so many already take us to be. I say let the bad reviews speak for themselves; let the facts speak for themselves. Anyway I don’t know if that is what has happened in this case; just guessing, of course.

  19. Here is Mesereau’s most recent email to a fan, that was reprinted with permission on the Reflections on the Dance FB page, and he asked that it be spread throughout the fan community.

    While I agree with his overall message of confronting uncomfortable topics about MJ’s personal life in order to convince non-fans that he wasn’t a pedophile, I vehemently disagree with his assertion that Sullivan’s book is the best way to achieve this goal. If Mesereau wants MJ to be “humanized” to non-fans, he should recommend that they read the books that were written by Jermaine & Latoya Jackson, Frank Cascio, Michael Bush, and the upcoming books by Raymone Bain and Arnold Klein.

    And if non-fans want to investigate the allegations only, then of course they should read Mary Fischer, Geraldine Hughes, and Aphrodite Jones’s respective books. (Fischer released her GQ article as a paperback book and eBook a few months ago.)

    Another thing that bothers me is that Mesereau STILL has not addressed Sullivan’s statements in recent interviews that MJ “may have” been guilty in 1993, or the fact that Sullivan didn’t challenge the Chandler’s version of events in his book.

    Here is Mesereau’s email:

    Thank you for your recent emails.

    The Los Angeles Times book review appeared in hardcopy on November 19, 2012. As I prepare this email, I have it in my hand.

    This book review was prominently featured on the front page of the Los Angeles Times “Calendar” section. This section is widely read by people in the entertainment industry.

    Following the publication of this review, I received a number of phone calls from people who I do not consider to be part of the Michael Jackson fan community. They were affected by the reviewer’s comments in the first two paragraphs. As you know, he immediately states that Mr. Sullivan believes that Michael Jackson “could not possibly have been a child molester.” In the second paragraph, Mr. Lee comments on Mr. Sullivan’s believe that the Chandler case in 1993 was an “extortion case”. Mr. Sullivan also says that Mr. Jackson should not have paid money to settle this case.

    What Michael Jackson fans apparently don’t realize is the need to confront certain aspects of Michael Jackson’s life and explain them. If you don’t explain these realities and utilize them to humanize Michael Jackson, you will never persuade others that he was not a pedophile.

    My perception of the Michael Jackson fan community is that, for the most part, supporters of Michael Jackson want to avoid addressing issues like his sexuality, interaction with children, plastic surgery, vitiligo, etc. I understand this. However, in my opinion, you will never persuade others about Michael Jackson’s humanity and decency without confronting them.

    What do I mean? Consider one of my strategies in Michael Jackson’s criminal trial of 2005.

    I began the defense case by calling three witnesses whom the prosecution claimed had been molested. They were Macaulay Culkin, Brett Barnes and Wade Robson. The prosecution had presented witnesses and evidence in their attempt to prove that these young men were sexually assaulted by Michael Jackson.

    All three denied that Michael had ever touched them improperly. They were indignant that anyone would suggest that they were molested. However, all testified that they had slept many times in Michael Jackson’s bed. They all claimed that they were friends and that nothing illegal ever happened.

    I decided that evidence that these young men had slept in Michael’s bed needed to be explained. I also decided that allowing in such evidence was a price worth paying in order to illicit their strong denials that any molestation ever happened.

    Roger Friedman and others criticized my decision to let in evidence that these young men slept in Michael’s bed. I also called female witnesses who had slept in Michael’s bed. I wanted to explain the innocence of this behavior.

    Following the trial, I spoke to the jury foreperson. He said that Michael Jackson might not have been acquitted of all counts if I had not called these witnesses and explained Michael’s behavior.

    I have always believed that top criminal defense lawyers do not run from evidence that appears troubling. They directly and courageously confront and explain this evidence. This must be done in a way that protects and humanizes their client. Mediocre lawyers, on the other hand, either run from such evidence or present slick, sleazy explanations.

    In the trial, I was not addressing a jury of Michael Jackson fans. I assumed that these twelve jurors were pro-prosecution and prepared to convict. Fortunately, they were persuaded otherwise.

    Again, you will never convince numerous segments of the general public that Michael Jackson was not a pedophile unless you confront, explain and humanize certain aspects of Michael’s life that these people find troubling or unusual. In my opinion, Randall Sullivan’s book does this very effectively.

    Randall Sullivan’s book is already changing people’s perspective on Michael Jackson. Mr. Sullivan portrays Michael in a very sympathetic light. He shows how he was continually exploited and misused. He humanizes him by addressing issues that must be explained. In the process, he explains Michael very effectively. He is changing people’s perspective on Michael Jackson in a positive way because he doesn’t appear biased towards Michael.

    I repeat, the Dimonds, Orths, Chandlers and Sneddons are ecstatic that Michael Jackson fans are trying to bury this book. To me, these fans are doing a great disservice to the legacy of Michael Jackson. Michael was no pedophile or criminal. He was one of the kindest, nicest people I ever encountered. He was also the greatest, artistic genius of my time.

    You are welcome to circulate this to anyone you chose.

    Kind regards,

    Tom Mesereau

    1. I still don’t agree, and am failing at this point to understand exactly what part of the fact that this book does NOT exonerate Michael or definitively prove his innocence that Mesereau doesn’t get. I “get” that appearing as an unbiased source is crucial to convincing the doubters, but spreading lies, inaccuracies, and a distorted image of who Michael was shouldn’t have to be accepted as the price for that. I won’t settle for it, and honestly, I don’t think too many will.

    2. “I have always believed that top criminal defense lawyers do not run from evidence that appears troubling. They directly and courageously confront and explain this evidence. This must be done in a way that protects and humanizes their client. Mediocre lawyers, on the other hand, either run from such evidence or present slick, sleazy explanations.” –TMez

      “Again, you will never convince numerous segments of the general public that Michael Jackson was not a pedophile unless you confront, explain and humanize certain aspects of Michael’s life that these people find troubling or unusual. In my opinion, Randall Sullivan’s book does this very effectively.” –TMez

      “I repeat, the Dimonds, Orths, Chandlers and Sneddons are ecstatic that Michael Jackson fans are trying to bury this book. To me, these fans are doing a great disservice to the legacy of Michael Jackson. Michael was no pedophile or criminal. He was one of the kindest, nicest people I ever encountered. He was also the greatest, artistic genius of my time.” –TMez

      I will continue to respect TMez and still believe he is a very honorable man who represented Michael with calm intelligence and immense skill but I’m having a hard time with the content of his comment regarding Sullivan’s book. Although I have not read the book it has been shown that distortions do exist concerning the way Michael’s personal life is represented and Sullivan, during interviews FOR the book I might add, has introduced doubt as to his own feelings on Michael’s innocence. Doubt that is based on long since discredited sources. Such publically expressed doubt casts a long dark shadow over the entirety of his book for me.

      In my view to humanize someone you also need to be accurate in your accounting which includes the nature of Michael’s relationships and his personal appearance. To say he was a “virgin” when he died or to mis-represent the condition of his nose are not trivial issues. They became huge issues and are just two of many that the tabloid media, using the hateful pejorative tabloid shorthand “Wacko Jacko,” used to define Michael Jackson to the public for years and years.

      I agree with TMez that you have to confront and explain evidence that appears troubling but that is not what Sullivan is doing. I base this primarily on what he’s said for interviews promoting his book. When he mis-represents Michael’s “virginity” or the nature of his nose using questionable sources and claiming to have seen detailed autopsy photos he couldn’t possible have seen as stated by the Coroner (other than the two shown at trial) than it tends to cast doubt on the credibility of the rest of his work. Doesn’t it?? It definitely does for me!!!

  20. “I repeat, the Dimonds, Orths, Chandlers and Sneddons are ecstatic that Michael Jackson fans are trying to bury this book. To me, these fans are doing a great disservice to the legacy of Michael Jackson. Michael was no pedophile or criminal. He was one of the kindest, nicest people I ever encountered. He was also the greatest, artistic genius of my time.”

    TM you are way off base with this comment. Of course, the fans know that Michael was no pedophile or criminal–of course WE know it, but it is the man you are defending, RS, who says he can’t say that with 100 % certainty!!! TM you are really misjudging the fans. Of course WE know he was the greatest artist of our time. How can you doubt it??

  21. Hi everyone, I have resisted commenting on this before because in general terms I have agreed with what everyone is saying (including of course yourself Raven) . I have read all the reviews of this book on Amazon, and left a few comments there, and I have read this book (borrowed from the local library). I wouldn’t actually buy it. It’s a shame that Tom Mes has now become a bit of a bone of contention amongst some of us..and I have just read sanemjfan’s comment of 27/11 . Whilst I certainly don’t praise a book that rehashes all of the old lies.. especially when there is updated and truthful information readily available.. I think I sort of get where Tom Mes is coming from.

    I feel he is saying that if this book can convince more people that Michael was not a paedophile, and get them to understand what his life was like, that is the most important thing. It does not really matter how nice, kind, generous, funny, someone is, if you are convinced they are the worst type of criminal, you are not really going to believe any of the good stuff are you? However if you change your mind about that , then you may go on to change your mind about other nonsense as well.

    I liked his (explanation) example of the “sleeping in Michael’s bed” defence tactic, and thinking of the “jar of noses” in the same way,I wouldn’t be surprised if Michael did have a jar of noses, a box of pebble glass spectacles, false moustaches and goofy teeth as well.. oh and a fat suit…everything you might need to make youself incognito.. not because your nose had withered away etc.. I wholeheartedly agree that the continued distorted image of Michael should not be the price to pay, but maybe there is a starting point in this book for some to review their opinion of him.I do hope so.

    I think Randall Sullivan might just have kept this book deliberately contoversial and we have fallen for it, and I don’t have a very high opinion of him, but the book is out there ane people are buying it.

    One thing is for sure.. Michael is never going to get any peace from any of us, whether we love him or “hate” him.

    I sometimes wonder if he would say to me “leave me alone” or “thankyou for supporting me”.. I just don’t know anymore.

    1. I liked his (explanation) example of the “sleeping in Michael’s bed” defence tactic, and thinking of the “jar of noses” in the same way,I wouldn’t be surprised if Michael did have a jar of noses, a box of pebble glass spectacles, false moustaches and goofy teeth as well..

      You know the old saying that there is a grain of truth in everything? I believe that’s exactly how a lot of these lies and myths about Michael started, with someone taking some grain of truth and-for whatever reasons-exaggerating them into something else.

      Case in point: The tabloids print photos of Michael being pushed in a wheelchair, wearing a surgical mask, bandages, and looking very frail. The headlines read something like: “Jacko Now A Pathetic Wreck Forced To Get About In A Wheelchair.”

      Then someone comes along and says, “Oh, that was just another one of Michael’s clever disguises-the burn victim, or the paraplegic.”

      Or we learn that, yes, he was being pushed in a wheelchair…because he’d just been to rehearsal and had spent eight hours on his feet dancing!

      I have always believed that the thing about Michael losing his nose during a rehearsal was a prank that he pulled. He loved to pull those kinds of outrageous pranks. I could see him slipping on a prosthetic nose, and then laughing hysterically at everyone’s reaction when it fell off!

      Of course, it would not then take much stretching for someone with an axe to grind-or who simply wanted to make a few quick bucks-to sell a story to the tabloids about how Michael’s nose fell off during a recording session.

      Nine times out of ten, I believe that is how a lot of these stories started, and of course, just grew from there.

  22. I am wondering if TM’s ‘perception’ of the fans has anything to do with how another book he collaborated on, Defending A King, was reviewed. Is it possible?

    1. iutd, that’s a thought that also came to my mind. The way DAK was critisized by some groups perhaps made Mesereau loose respect for the fans.

      1. I know. Sometimes it must seem like MJ fans are sure a super picky lot, lol! We have a completely positive book with DAK that has been roundly criticized in some circles, and now the controversy with the Sullivan book. But all kidding aside, I don’t think what we are asking is too tall of an order. I can only speak for myself, of course, but I think all that most MJ fans simply want are books that are respectful to Michael, that present accurate truth without embellishment, and are thoroughly researched. As I’ve said many times, I do not need for all books on Michael to be 100% positive, but what bothers me so much with this book is the apparent sheer amount of tabloid sensationalism and the regurgitation of all the old myths about Michael as some sort of sexual weirdo. I am also very uncomfortable with the either/or picture that Sullivan seems to be trying to mop Michael into. That is what he seemed to be implying, for example, in his Huffington Post interview. As if to say, either it is Lisa Marie Presley’s version of the truth we believe, or it is Jordan Chandler’s. That’s what he meant by his smug little crack that “only Lisa Marie and Jordan Chandler know the truth” about Michael’s sexuality.

        The real picture is much more complex than that. What Sullivan seems to be asking us to buy is that EITHER Michael had to be some sort of regressed, presexual person OR we have to concede he was a pedophile. My big question is: Why?

        First of all, most intelligent people are aware that many pedophiles DO also have perfectly normal adult relationships, and are capable of having adult relationships. So even for those who are inclined to believe Michael was guilty, simply proving that he had relationships with women is not enough.

        But more importantly-and where I’m really going with this-I think it is perfectly reasonable to think that, just maybe, he was a normal man with normal desires who had adult relationships and never touched any child. In other words, why can’t he be innocent and still maintain his humanity and dignity as a man? Why does it have to be this narrow either/or? That’s what I fail to understand. What Sullivan seems to be purporting (and I say “seems” as a qualifier because I do want to stress I haven’t read the book yet) is that the only way to convince people that Michael wasn’t a pedophile is by convincing them that he was the sad pre-sexual caricature of tabloid myth.

        While I agree that proving he was innocent of those charges is the most important aspect of restoring his legacy in the eyes of the public, clearing up the misconception of the tabloid caricature Michael Jackson is a close second right behind it. If the trade-off for one is simply having to accept the other (which, to me, is just as equally false and damaging) then what has been accomplished? Perhaps one step at a time, as some have said, but what is wrong with taking the holistic approach and clearing up ALL of the misconceptions?

        1. Raven, you make an excellent point about why can’t Michael be innocent and a mature, adult male?? It seems Sullivan wants to put us back into the either/or choice of freak or pedophile. On top of this, his assessment of Michael as a person and an artist is NOT positive, NOT sympathetic. Here is an excerpt discussing hiow Michael failed to create good music after Thriller and how his search for perfection led him to mess up his face/looks as well (Sullivan sees the drive for perfection as destroying MJ bith artistically and personally):

          “He would not tolerate shortcomings. That approach was what carried him to the overwhelming success he achieved with Thriller, and it was also what left him stuck there. He devoted more than four years to his follow-up album, Bad, determined, as he said at the time, to make the record “as perfect as humanly possible.” He was confused when critics complained that it was as if he had tried to apply a thousand coats of aural lacquer to Thriller, to make pretty much the same album, only shinier. Jackson spent another four years on Dangerous and then read in the New York and Los Angeles newspapers that the album was an “overproduced” facsimile of Bad. It was as if he believed that polishing the surface of his work to a high gloss would blind people to the increasingly hollow core that lay beneath. Along the way, he lost interest in authenticity. What he wanted was flawless artifice. It was the same goal he pursued in the reconstruction of his face.”

          I can’t understand how T Mes thinks Sullivan is sympathetic or positive–he is not, not about the allegations or about Michael as an artist or a person. When you write “he lost interest in authenticity” that is NOT sympathetic and NOT true either. I think it is Sullivan who has no interest in authenticity.

          1. @iutd, Sullivan admits that he had no interest in Michael Jackson, pro or con, when he started the book, and then claims that the book opened him up in a sympathetic way to Michael. He has an odd way of demonstrating that. If Sullivan had no interest in Michael Jackson prior to starting the book, then why did he even try? I would surmise that most genuine authors do possess a genuine passionate interest in their subject matter which is part of the impetus that drives their work. Look at Michael himself, complete passion and dedication to his craft, hence he became the best ever. Sullivan was apparently intersted only in doing the job asked of him by his boss at Rolling Stone.

  23. Mesereau just released a video to denounce the “vicious, malicious, disgusting” campaign against Sullivan’s book. After watching it, there’s nothing I can do except literally shake my head in utter disbelief and shock that those positive words about Sullivan’s book just rolled off of Mesereau’s tongue! What he fails to realize is that the people who are trashing the book through their “campaign” are FANS of MJ, not Hollywood or media elites!

    1. Well, this is just my opinion, but in shaking my head as well as to why Tom Mesereau would be so upset by “negative and vicious reviews”, and while I have the utomost respect for Mr. Mesereau, it does occur to me that he and Randy Jackson are friends and perhaps he is acting at the behest of his friend. Inasmuch as Sullivan had nothing kind to say about the Jackson family, this could be an impetus for Mesereau, who has always defended Michael, to bring his A-game to the table.

      1. @June and sanemjfan:

        I am really shaking my head in disbelief at all of this as well. I’m sure I will be addressing this issue more in the next few days. However, at this point, I’ve probably said as much as I fairly can about the book until I have read it, and I probably will not get much opportunity until Christmas break. But I did have something I wanted to post regarding the fan reactions to this book (which I think, btw, are COMPLETELY justified even though I do not endorse deliberate “sabotage” campaigns). My blood was boiling, for example, after seeing this article, which is a COMPLETE misrepresentation of this situation and why fans are upset:


        And don’t even get me started on the ones who are trying to turn this into a pro-estate/anti-estate war. PUHleeze! I am completely neutral on that topic and could care less what Sullivan has to say about the estate. But I do care very much that the truth about MICHAEL is told! Honestly, it seems to me there are some fans who would even throw MICHAEL under the bus when it comes down to endorsing anything that is remotely anti-estate.

        1. Hi Raven;

          With all due respect and admiration for Mr. Mesereau, this video he made sort of reminds me of the Katherine Jackson “hostage” video of this past summer.

          It’s troubling and difficult to understand why he would support this book. Is he aware of the vindicating sites for Michael, where many people have invested their own time and money to do actual research. I just wonder what is going on.

          1. I guess his point might be that the vindicating sites are basically just preaching to the choir, which in a way is true, I suppose. But I also know these sites ARE making an impact and are also reaching casual researchers. Sullivan himself is certainly aware of them, since he references several in his bibliography, including Vindicating Michael (which I have heard he refers to as a “slanted” site).

  24. Here Sullivan on Nightline:

    Sullivan says on Nightline: “The Ultimate question is, did Michael Jackson ever molest a child? My conclusion is I don’t think he did, my answer is probably not, I wish I could say conclusively that NO he didn’t. I CAN’T, there is a shadow of Doubt! I have learned to live with that and anyone honest will also have to live with that!”

    How is this a full vindication? Is “I don’t think he did” or “probably not” enough? Not in my book. If RS is unsure then he is not able to convince others. He is saying if we are “honest” we have to live with the doubt. NO NO NO NO. The truth sure has to run a huge marathon!!!

    1. In a way, I think he is saying the same thing that Lisa Marie did on Oprah; the old “I wasn’t in that room so I can’t be sure.” In a way, however, given human nature and the times in which we live, some might look at that as the only 100% truthfully honest answer anyone can give when debating whether someone has been guilty of sexual molestation. Some of the nicest, kindest, most upstanding citizens can be pedophiles behind closed doors; it doesn’t matter how “nice” someone is, or how many good deeds they do. This is why I always say that we can’t convince anyone of Michael’s innocence simply by using his character as an example. Cynical minds will never buy that line of reasoning. I think some people use the “I wasn’t in the room” or “there will always be doubt” as kind of cautionary security net-as in, “just in case” they are wrong. It gives them a little wiggle room…well, just in case any REALLY incrimminating evidence ever surfaces. Essentially, it’s a way of saving face.

      Of course, the simple truth is that NONE of us were there, and yes, I suppose there is some logic to saying only Michael, Jordan, and Gavin will ever know the COMPLETE truth (and Michael isn’t here to say). But still, the evidence speaks for itself and should be able to draw most any rational and logical thinking person to a conclusion of innocence. The best thing that can be done is to allow the evidence to speak for itself.

      If Sullivan was TRULY sincere in believing Michael was innocent, and truly wishing to vindicate him (but still wanting to maintain his credibility as a neutral, unbiased researcher) the BEST way to handle that situation would be to say something like, “No one can ever know for sure, of course, but judging from most of the evidence I have gathered and the sources I have referenced, it would all seem to indicate that he absolutely did not commit those crimes.” That’s all that need be said-simple and assertive, yet honest.

      1. He can’t state that because in his book he makes it seem plausible.

        If you read the book, read what he says about Terry George. Read the version of events he gives for Jordan at the end. He wanted to specifically create a narrative where Michael was so sexually stunted and warped he could be capable of doing things with kids. I believe it’s also why he removes the women from his life, the obsession with young boys is a relentless theme of this book. You’re forced basically into either two stories about him: virgin, or molested Jordan in a state of sexual confusion.

        I don’t believe it’s just poor research, I believe he wrote it that way intentionally.

        1. This falls in line with everything I’ve been hearing about the book, which again is frankly why I don’t “get” Mesereau’s endorsement. Mesereau himself said, in reference to the porn Michael had, that this was evidence that he was a normal man who liked to look at beautiful women. There is certainly nothing sexually stunted or warped about that, even though I’ve heard some try to make the arguement that even the porn was symptomatic of some sort of inability to form actual intimate relationships. I think that is hogwash. I am sure that, like 99.9% of most men, the porn was simply an ADDENDUM to his sex life, not a replacement for it.

          I don’t know, this is just all very strange. I guess I am definitely going to have to read the book to see what I do make of it. I will try to put aside my preconceived notions about it before I read but I think it is going to be hard. I just pretty much know, already, what to expect.

          1. I’m pretty sure in the book he either entirely skips out on the porn or mentions it in perhaps half a sentence in relation to Gavin Arvizo, and that’s it.

            Like I said, it comes across very deliberate. According to his notes he had to have been aware about other facts concerning many people and events out there, but instead chose to work with the laziest most cartoonish version possible, because it fit his narrative. Or if he wasn’t and some of this is accidental because he just didn’t bother to check, then it just reflects a dire failing in his journalistic integrity.

            And it could just be that – I mean, he cites a page on my blog as being “entirely slanted”, but manages to think or suggest that I’m Josephine Zohny, a girl who went to NYU with Jordan Chandler. I quote her on that page, but it should be obvious to anyone that I’m quoting her as a separate person. I have no idea how he could have that impression about me, other than terrible comprehension skills, and if I’m being “sympathetic” the way he claims to be with Michael, that perhaps may just be where the fault in his book lies.

            That he is shocked by the fan reaction is just insulting. If he didn’t think we could so quickly and easily debunk so many of his stories and sources, he really must believe we’re as simple minded as the interview you speak about here suggests. Many journalists and authors and the general public have this idea about us as fans. That we believe MJ walked on water and just shut our ears off to the worst about him and react to everything by calling Michael a saint who would never do such things, instead of listing easily available counter information. Did he not realize that we’ve also read Bob Jones’ book, Taraborrelli’s, and the same tabloid articles he quotes without interrogation? It seems he hoped the “fringe fanatic” would react emotionally, instead of with facts, and now his book sales are being hurt because people can read better stories about Michael in the reviews for this book for free, than they can for the $20 charge and 700 page slog.

          2. I agree 100% with everything you’ve said. I have another relevant post on this topic that I want to make this weekend, so stay tuned.

          3. And I want to add that if he believed I was her, he should’ve tried to contact me, or the real Josephine. He never tried with me and he doesn’t make any claims at attempting with Josephine.

            So he had a student who attended uni with Jordan, he believed she’d written this huge long post about why Michael was innocent, and he never makes any attempt to seek her out for more information? Poor comprehensive skills, and terrible lazy journalism. Either he was like this with other people, or maybe if I’m going back to the deliberate tone of the book, he just wasn’t interested in speaking to anyone who would counter the narrative he’d created, which seems easy to believe considering the people he did speak to.

          4. “…he just wasn’t interested in speaking to anyone who would counter the narrative he’d created…”

            This is what I believe, too. The fact that Sullivan lists so many pro-MJ sites in his bibliography, including yours and Vindicating Michael, indicates that he IS aware and has access to all of the same information that we have. Yet it seems he has PURPOSELY-not out of ignorance or even laziness-but PURPOSELY chosen to ignore that information in favor of the narrative he has wished to create. He refers to all of the pro-MJ sites as “slanted” while conveniently ignoring that most of the information contained on pro MJ sites is nevertheless information pulled from factual, documented sources-it’s not as if we’ve made all of this stuff up as we go along! If I were on asignment to research Michael Jackson’s life for a major book publication, I would AT THE VERY LEAST be interested in checking up on the information from these sites. Then, to top that off, planting and spreading a false rumor about who he THINKS is behind a particular site-without even bothering to fact check that information-is just inexcusable. Mind boggling, actually. It doesn’t take that much effort to contact a blog owner; the contact info is usually on the home page!

            I also know that he made no effort to contact Theresa Gonsalves, which leads me to believe he never tried to contact any of the women who have claimed relationships with Michael. Even if he doesn’t think their stories are credible, you would think that he would at least want to interview some of these women, instead of relying solely on second hand sources and hearsay.

            Which brings me to something else that bugs me about this book. It just seems that, whether positive OR negative, he is mostly piggybacking off the reasearch of others-even down to the fans, as well as the haters from sites like MJFacts and Desiree-rather than doing any of his own. He’s pieced together a patchwork quilt based on Taraborrelli and just about every MJ book ever written-pro or con.

          5. I don’t know if he uses any pro-MJ books. The only books I could tell he’d read and was using as gospel were Bob Jones’ and Taraborrelli’s 1991 edition. Apparently he also admits to not even having read Frank Cascio’s book.

            He listed my blog a few times, but then claimed Tatum O’Neal was a sham relationship MJ had and that the only person he’d spent any time with at that time were his rats and a a young boy on the phone. He didn’t even realize MJ had given up his rats a few years earlier – so I guess it was just this one boy on the phone then.

            He uses Bob Jones as the only source for Lisa Marie, even though he’d clearly at least visited my blog and could see dozens of other sources and info relating to her. But only Bob Jones, who testified against Michael in 2005 and pretty much admitted to being willing to making up witnessing inappropriate conduct with minors to sensationalize a book – only he is taken seriously as a source. The story he creates for them doesn’t even make any basic sense. He claims she was okay with this fake marriage, then claims she wanted out once Michael wanted to get her pregnant. Then claims she wanted him back when she heard he’d gotten Debbie pregnant. No explanation as to why she, a millionaire with a huge name of her own behind her, would want in on a fake marriage with someone with his negative image to begin with, and then would want to remarry him just to have kids that wouldn’t be biologically be his. He claims literally in the same two sentences, that she only wanted him back when she heard Debbie was pregnant, and then that she gave up on him only when she heard he’d gotten Debbie pregnant. There’s no logic or rhyme given to any of this, we’re meant to assume Lisa Marie and Michael do things that make no rational reasonable sense. The idea these people should behave in any kind of logical way is something it seems he discarded when he started writing his book.

            The worst is his writing for Terry George. He claims Terry hadn’t sought any money or attention for his story, which makes him credible. No mention given to him having sold the story himself to The Sun for thousands of pounds right when the scandal broke, and how coincidentally to his story, he at the time owns and still does own, a gay sex chat line. How the LAPD and FBI had both investigated him only on the basis of this tabloid article (he claims it was just rumors going around Terry’s little quaint British town which managed to reach the LAPD strangely right at that time) and clearly found his story lacking as no moves were ever made to involve him in either case. How he claimed he had a tape of MJ which the police would be interested in, but it turned out to be the tape of MJ and Randy giving him that one interview where nothing untoward was said. No mention of how he’s still riding on MJ’s fame by hosting a website using the name of one of his songs, and he claimed after Michael died that there was another imaginary phonecall, this time where Michael had called randomly to congratulate him on that website he’s coincidentally seeking to publicize, and randomly Michael had then apologized for masturbating on the phone to him as a child. I mean, it would almost seem as if he wanted to try and make his website seem a little reasonable in light of his death, considering he basically claimed Michael was a pedophile, so he wanted a way to make it seem like no, it was just a big misunderstanding for Michael, which would make it okay for Terry to then not care about it at all and create a website using his name and image, and on top of that, Michael approved. Convenient Michael did this just before he died, it involved the website he wants PR for, and that nobody in his life can confirm or deny it. Again. But it’s okay, because Sullivan mentions none of this, and says that as Terry didn’t want money or attention and didn’t call him a pedophile, it meant he is MJ’s most credible victim. Yup.

            The lack of research in anything he states in this book was just mind blowing to me. I can’t fathom how he could feel upset about the negative fan reaction. He wrote it with as much integrity as a British tabloid journalist would.

          6. I’ve noticed all of these contradictions even as he talks in interviews sometimes. One can very obviously see where the holes in his narrative are; most of the time, he doesn’t even bother covering them, but rather just seems to hope no one will notice.

  25. Its sad that some are questioning TMs integrity. If there is anyone who truly vindicated Michael its him. Actually the only credible defense of Michael by fanblogs is based on his work in court. Anything else is fandom and will not convince anyone else other than fans. Why TM thinks RS can do it better is beyond me I am very intrigued why TM is so ademant about the book despite RS contradicting mediarstory .
    B:ut he has the right to his opinion .
    . I have decided to read he book to find out for myself for the same reason i read chandlers ‘halperin taraborelli,, bob jones bóok. They are slanderous books but stil have some verifyable information that w;ere eyeopeners to me.
    Chandlers book convinced me about the amateurism and lack of strategy of Michaels defense team in 1993 .It also gives a litttle bit on Michaels probable introduction to demerol.
    I have no high expectations,of RS book, but in hundreds of pages there is hopefully something new or revealing. Or maybe TMs pov on the book will become clear.

    1. That is sort of my approach as well. I usually find something of relevance for me in every book on Michael that I read. Some books I just have to cherry pick more than others, lol.

      I can’t speak for everyone but, honestly, I don’t think anyone doubts Mesereau’s integrity. It’s just that most of us, I think, are very baffled by this, and trying to understand it. I think the book may possibly have some good points but not enough to outweigh its potential damage, and that there are certainly books that do a far better job of “vindicating” him.

  26. I actually disagree that the best answer is ‘no one can ever know for sure of course, but all the evidence says not.’ Because if you look at people who are actually child molesters they never do it once and not ever again. They increase the frequency of th act. They have a sexual need for this or a sexual-psychological need. It is not realistic to say that Michael was with so many children in so many close ways, including the sleepovers, and nothing happened, but it might have happened with one boy. I just don’t believe this is a scientific or logical way to look at this form of sexual deviancy. Look At Sundusky, many victims over many years. The same with Saville. And yet we have to speculate that Michael did something sexual with one boy only? Does not compute.

    Look at Evan Chandler as an accuser. Statistically child abuse accusations are false and especially suspect in divorced parents involved in custody proceedings. And Evan was probably bipolar and had major anger issues, so was he believable, not to mention Rothman? Jordan’s account to Gardener was unbelievable IMO. He claimed he masturbated Michael and yet did not know he was not circumcised, among many other unbelievable claims.

    Michael said ‘I would slit my wrists before I would hurt a child” and I believe him 100%. I have no shadow of doubt.

    1. But again, WE know this. It’s not a question of what we, as fans, know and believe or who we think is credible. If I thought those were credible people, I certainly wouldn’t be here defending Michael! But this is not about what I believe, or you believe, or what any fan believes. It’s about what the average person believes based on what THEY have heard and what is known regarding sexual child abuse.Michael may have said “I would slit my wrists before I would hurt a child” but that statement alone isn’t going to convince a person who doubts his innocence. I assumed he was most likely guilty for years before I actually started researching what transpired in the Chandler and Arvizo cases. It was the evidence that convinced me; nothing else. And if an author who truly believes in his innocence can go on TV and say, “I believe according to all the EVIDENCE I have researched that he was not guilty” then that is what is going to convince people. But Sullivan, in my opinion, is not doing this; he’s simply pussyfooting around the issue…”maybe he did…maybe he didn’t.” I feel that if he was truly convinced that Michael was innocent, he would be assertive about it rather than hem-hawing around and saying “Only Jordan knows the truth”, etc on every talk show he goes on. I’m saying there IS a professional way he could go about this and if he said, “We may have a shadow of doubt but all evidence points to his innocence” and then be able to back that up WITH the so-called credible evidence that is allegedly in his book, then I really would not argue with that as I believe that would be a HUGE step in the right direction.

      But, frankly, I ain’t seeing it.

      1. A big question is why did Sullivan write this book? Why did Rolling Stone ask him to do it? Did they in fact ask him and/or subsidize the book? Who paid for him to do the writing over a 3 year period? Was it RS? It just seems that he is not the right person for this project–he has no real background. What has he written on Michael before, if anything? What are his motivations? The whole thing doesn’t make sense to me. Was it just another job?

        In the T Mez video, a comment on youtube asks why the ending of the video has an image of Michael and the text: “2009-forever,” pointing out that this does not sound like something TM would write (b/c it is not factual and rather hammy for him to do). Also they say this is not a video on his usual yt account, maybe b/c the other account is an official one? Apparently, he opened a new account on youtube just to post this video?

        I am wondering also what Susan Yu thinks of this?

        1. “In the T Mez video, a comment on youtube asks why the ending of the video has an image of Michael and the text: “2009-forever,” pointing out that this does not sound like something TM would write (b/c it is not factual and rather hammy for him to do).”

          That does sound strange.

  27. Raven, you say “I assumed he was most likely guilty for years before I actually started researching what transpired in the Chandler and Arvozo cases. It was the evidence that convinced me, nothing else.” Yes, the review of the actual evidence would bring most people to the conclusion of Michael’s innocence, and, in my opinion, this is why Tom M. has the best vantage point. The trial transcripts, the FBI files, all the irrefutable evidence which could not help but convince reasonable readers and viewers. From my cheap seat, despite the media’s continuing onslaughts through the years, I never assumed guilt as I believed Michael’s own words on this and other issues. Then I confirmed by reading transcripts and doing my own research (unfortunately after his death) that my intuition was correct. Unfortunately, most people, even now, will not look beyond what they are forcefed by media, and it will take an author with far more gravitas than Sullivan, a former Rolling Stone editor, to convince those with no eyes to see or no ears to hear. Tom M. may find he has to take the matter into his own hands, rather than endorsing the mixed work of others.

    1. I probably should clarify that I assumed him to be most likely guilty, for a number of reasons: The fact that there had been another case before 2003 (my reaction when news of the Arvizo story broke, like many, was “Here we go again” and “Where there’s smoke, there must be fire”; the way the media was portraying him and the case (at the time, I wasn’t yet media savvy enough to fully understand how they operate); and lastly, my own jaded, cynical mind that tended to believe most celebrities are immoral people with many perverted hang-ups, lifestyles, and sexual deviations.

      Yet as I’ve said many times, even then I would have a pang of doubt sometimes. It would hit me occasionally in the strangest ways, such as those times when they would show Michael going in or leaving the court house. I would feel a sense of shame at the media treatment of him (“This was the hero; the icon of our youth; how can we be letting this happen?”) and an empathatic sense of his pain.

      But it would only be that small twinge, and then I was mostly back to my indifference. In fact, when I really look back and honestly reflect on what I felt while the trial was going on, it was largely indifference-not hate; not any overwhelming sense that he was guilty or not guilty. When I took the time to think about it, like most of America at that time, I just presumed he probably was guilty but I was honestly just not that much invested one way or the other. It was the same sense of semi-detachment with which I follow most big trial stories in the news. I might keep up with the sound bytes or what is being said on social media; I might tune in on verdict day. But for the most part, I simply get on with the business of living.

      And that’s the place where I was in 2005. Simply getting on with the business of living. But I can’t deny that when I would see the coverage on the news, I felt that small pang, like a piercing dart in my heart: What if America has it wrong and this man really IS innocent?

      That thought nagged at me quite a bit. I just wish I had done more to act upon it THEN, instead of waiting until four years later. That remains a huge regret for me.

      1. I understand, Raven, although I didn’t conclude guilt in 2005 even through all the media crap, I did and still do feel those gnawings of what could we all have done to stop it or fix it, or take away his obvious pain. I read a comment on another site that fans should feel guilt b/c we insatiably pulled him back into the spotlight when he wasn’t ready. Perhaps some truth to that.

    1. Thank you for sharing these. I will probably contribute some questions of my own. Boy, Deborah is really going into the lion’s den with this one (interviewing Sullivan!). I think the bottom line is most likely that he’s just going to come up with excuses and, of course, defend what he has written. But we’ll see.

  28. I have read at least half of the book and I am so disgusted. It appears to be more of the same kind of trashing that was done by the media. I am to say in the least that I am quite disappointed in the book I paid nearly forty dollars for the trash. I do not give this book any high reccomendation. If you have to spend money on something I suggest you go out and have a nice dinner and a movie.

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