Michael Jackson dies at 50

Michael Jackson with his signature move

Michael Jackson with his signature move

LOS ANGELES – Michael Jackson, the sensationally gifted child star who rose to become the “King of Pop” and the biggest celebrity in the world only to fall from his throne in a freakish series of scandals, died Thursday. He was 50. Jackson died at UCLA Medical Center in Los Angeles. Ed Winter, the assistant chief coroner for Los Angeles County, confirmed his office had been notified of the death and would handle the investigation.

The circumstances of Jackson’s death were not immediately clear. Jackson was not breathing when Los Angeles Fire Department paramedics responded to a call at his Los Angeles home about 12:30 p.m., Capt. Steve Ruda told the Los Angeles Times. The paramedics performed CPR and took him to UCLA Medical Center, Ruda told the newspaper.

Jackson’s death brought a tragic end to a long, bizarre, sometimes farcical decline from his peak in the 1980s, when he was popular music’s premier all-around performer, a uniter of black and white music who shattered the race barrier on MTV, dominated the charts and dazzled even more on stage.

His 1982 album “Thriller” — which included the blockbuster hits “Beat It,” “Billie Jean” and “Thriller” — remains the biggest-selling album of all time, with more than 100 million copies worldwide.

The public first knew him in the late 1960s, when as a boy he was the precocious, spinning lead singer of the Jackson 5, the music group he formed with his four older brothers. Among their No. 1 hits were “I Want You Back,” “ABC,” and “I’ll Be There.”

He was perhaps the most exciting performer of his generation, known for his feverish, crotch-grabbing dance moves and his high-pitched voice punctuated with squeals and titters. His single sequined glove, tight, military-style jacket and aviator sunglasses were trademarks second only to his ever-changing, surgically altered appearance.

“For Michael to be taken away from us so suddenly at such a young age, I just don’t have the words,” said Quincy Jones, who produced “Thriller.” “He was the consummate entertainer and his contributions and legacy will be felt upon the world forever. I’ve lost my little brother today, and part of my soul has gone with him.”

Jackson ranked alongside Elvis Presley and the Beatles as the biggest pop sensations of all time. In fact, he united two of music’s biggest names when he was briefly married to Presley’s daughter, Lisa Marie.

But as years went by, Jackson became an increasingly freakish figure — a middle-aged man-child weirdly out of touch with grown-up life. His skin became lighter, his nose narrower, and he spoke in a breathy, girlish voice. He surrounded himself with children at his Neverland ranch, often wore a germ mask while traveling and kept a pet chimpanzee named Bubbles as one of his closest companions.

In 2005, he was cleared of charges he molested a 13-year-old cancer survivor at Neverland in 2003. He had been accused of plying the boy with alcohol and groping him. The case took a fearsome toll on his career and image, and he fell into serious financial trouble.

Jackson was preparing for what was to be his greatest comeback: He was scheduled for an unprecedented 50 shows at a London arena, with the first set for July 13. He was in rehearsals in Los Angeles for the concert, an extravaganza that was to capture the classic Jackson magic: showstopping dance moves, elaborate staging and throbbing dance beats.

Singer Dionne Warwick said: “Michael was a friend and undoubtedly one of the world’s greatest entertainers that I fortunately had the pleasure of working with……..we have lost an icon in our industry.”

Hundreds of people gathered outside the hospital as word of his death spread. The emergency entrance at the UCLA Medical Center, which is near Jackson’s rented home, was roped off with police tape.

“Ladies and gentlemen, Michael Jackson has just died,” a woman boarding a Manhattan bus called out, shortly after the news was announced. Immediately many riders reached for their cell phones.

In New York’s Times Square, a low groan went up in the crowd when a screen flashed that Jackson had died, and people began relaying the news to friends by cell phone.

“No joke. King of Pop is no more. Wow,” Michael Harris, 36, of New York City, read from a text message a friend sent to his telephone. “It’s like when Kennedy was assassinated. I will always remember being in Times Square when Michael Jackson died.”


Heidi Montag and Spencer Pratt- Back in the Jungle

The newly weds, Spencer Pratt and heidi Montag

The newly weds, Spencer Pratt and heidi Montag

Newlyweds HEIDI MONTAG and SPENCER PRATT have returned to the jungle after quitting U.S. reality show I’M A CELEBRITY… GET ME OUT OF HERE!
The couple was seen walking from the survival show on Monday night (01Jun09) and The Hills stars appeared to have returned to Los Angeles.
But now UsMagazine.com reports the couple spotted under blankets at LAX airport were actually Pratt’s sister Stephanie and a family friend, and reports suggest the walk-off was all part of a plot to rev up TV ratings.
The couple’s representative says, “Heidi and Spencer are still in the jungle and part of the show.”
Montag and Pratt were part of Tuesday night’s (02Jun09) show, even though Pratt explained to his fellow contestants, “Super-celebrities don’t belong in the jungle. They belong in Hollywood with the paparazzi.”
Actor and recovering addict Daniel Baldwin was reportedly jetting to the Costa Rica jungle set to replace the Pratts, but his agent has denied the story.
And TV executive Paul Telegdy, who is overseeing I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here! for U.S. network NBC, has confirmed the newlyweds are back on the show.
He says, “I had a long chat with Spencer on Tuesday evening… He was very contrite. He felt that he’d been a bit hot-headed… I think he hadn’t really understood the purpose of the show was to raise a lot of money for charity.”
Telegdy insisted on asking Pratt’s castmates, including actors Lou Diamond Phillips and Stephen Baldwin and supermodel Janice DICkinson, if they’d be willing to let the newlyweds rejoin them in the jungle permanently.
He adds, “We’re gonna talk to the cast when they wake up to see if Heidi and Spencer can come back.”

Oprah Loses No. 1 Spot

The world’s Most Powerful Celebrities

She’s rich. She’s talented. She’s beautiful. And now Angelina Jolie is the most powerful celebrity in the world.

Thanks to the release of several blockbuster movies and an endless sea of media buzz, Jolie has dethroned Oprah Winfrey to top this year’s Celebrity 100 list, Forbes’ annual ranking of the world’s ultra famous.

Jolie raked in $27 million in the past 12 months thanks to a movie schedule that included “Kung Fu Panda,” “Wanted” and the not-yet-released spy thriller “Salt.” Even more impressive: The publicity she garnered following the birth of her twins, as well as the consistent headlines she grabs for her philanthropic efforts and her relationship with actor Brad Pitt, who ranks No. 9 on the list.

In Pictures: The World’s Most Powerful Celebrities

Winfrey drops to No. 2 on the list. The media maven has pocketed $275 million in the last year, making her the list’s top earner. Though viewership for her daily chat fest, “The Oprah Winfrey Show,” continues to erode, her earnings remain unchanged from a year ago. In addition to Winfrey’s monthly magazine, she has a three-year, $55 million deal with XM Satellite Radio. Early next year, the self-made billionaire will roll out the lifestyle-themed Oprah Winfrey Network in partnership with Discovery Communications.

In a year filled with humbling bank failures and violent stock market swings, the earning power of the 2009 Celebrity 100 remained remarkably resilient. The cumulative earnings of the 2009 list totaled $4.1 billion, up slightly from last year’s $4 billion haul.

The primary reason celebrities are still making big money: Many stars are locked into long-term performance and endorsement contracts. If the economy does not improve, expect the downturn to catch up to the A-list next year.

The Celebrity 100, which includes film and television actors, models, chefs, athletes, authors, and musicians, is a measure of entertainment-related earnings and media visibility (exposure in print, television, radio and online). The earnings estimates consist of pre-tax income between June 2008 and June 2009. Management, agent, and attorney fees are not deducted.

Rounding out the top five on the list are pop icon Madonna ($110 million), singer Beyonce Knowles ($87 million), and golfer Tiger Woods ($110 million).

More Galleries on Forbes.com

The Material Girl banked the majority of her millions on the road. Her “Hard Candy” tour rounded out 2008 as the year’s top-grossing international tour, raking in $280 million across 17 countries.

Knowles’ haul came from album sales, tour performances, films, a fashion collection, and a lengthy list of endorsement deals.

Woods’ pile of cash came mostly from endorsements, appearance fees, and a lucrative gig designing golf courses. He spent most of the year sidelined with a knee injury.

Among the newcomers on this year’s list: “Twilight” scribe Stephanie Meyer (No. 26) and country crooner Taylor Swift (No. 69). Meyer, who sold 29 million books and created a vampire frenzy, earned $50 million during the year-long period. Swift was the top-selling U.S. artist of 2008, banking $18 million off of a tour, album sales and endorsement deals.

Barack Obama joins the list as the first sitting head of state to land on the Celebrity 100. The President’s historic election last year helped him sell millions of books. He debuts on this year’s list at No. 49, with book earnings of $2.5 million for the 12-month period.

To make room for the new entries to the list, 37 bold-faced stars fell off. Among them: J.K. Rowling and Johnny Depp. Rowling lacked a new “Harry Potter” book, while Depp failed to release or collect on an installment of “Pirates of the Caribbean.”

Edited by Matthew Miller, Dorothy Pomerantz, and Lacey Rose

Jennifer Love Hewitt Sets Wedding Deadline

Jennifer Love Hewitt has told her boyfriend to propose within the next year.

The ‘Ghost Whisperer’ actress – who split from fiance Ross McCall last year – is keen to tie the knot with co-star Jamie Kennedy and his given him a deadline for popping the question.

She told US radio programme 104.7 FM’s Johnjay and Rich Show: “A timeline? By this time next year, if we’re not planning something, then there’s a situation.”

Jennifer denied reports the couple – who began dating earlier this year – had already got engaged after they were spotted at a Las Vegas jewellers buying a small ring.

She said: “A rumour has come out that Jamie and I supposedly got engaged. He was like, ‘No, no, no. That’s not true!’

“I was like, ‘God, would that be the worst thing in the world?! Excuse me, but just for a second, there’s a line of people who would probably be OK with that.’ ”

Jennifer has previously spoken about her love for Jamie, 39, claiming he makes her the happiest she has ever been.

She has said: “We just make each other laugh and we’re best friends. Even though we haven’t been together for very long we are very much alike.

“The fact he is so hilarious is what makes this relationship work. When you’re really funny, there’s nothing really bad that can happen. He is a realist and I am a dreamer.”

Bite Into the ‘New Moon’ Trailer

In recent days Twilighters have been treated to the release of the official “New Moon” movie poster, with the love triangle between Edward, Bella, and Jacob front and center, followed by a few squeal-worthy production stills showing pivotal “New Moon” scenes. Then the news dropped that the cast of “New Moon” would be presenting exclusive footage from the “Twilight” sequel at the MTV Movie Awards and just about made fans from all over the world faint with sheer anticipation. So the moment we’ve been lusting after for days finally arrived as Robert Pattinson, Kristen Stewart, and Taylor Lautner unveiled the first trailer for “New Moon” during the live telecast of the MTV Movie Awards on Sunday.

The sneak peek shows tortured lovers Edward (Robert Pattinson) and Bella (Kristen Stewart) reaching a crossroad in their tumultuous relationship when Bella’s birthday party at the Cullen home nearly causes Jasper to forgo his “vegetarianism.” The incident makes Edward realize that as long as Bella is a part of his life, she will always be in danger, so he makes the heart-wrenching decision to leave her because he loves her too much to see her hurt.

With Bella’s leading man out of the picture, in steps Jacob (Taylor Lautner) to be her protector. That young, long-haired boy we remember from “Twilight” has been transformed into quite the hunk and I’m sure girls everywhere are still swooning after getting a good glimpse of his shirtless, ripped upper body. It’s hard to believe that Taylor’s only 17, but the real surprise came when Jacob transitioned into a werewolf.

Through the trailer, I think Taylor has once and for all proven that he’s the perfect actor to portray human Jacob (I’m slowly shifting my allegiances from Team Edward to Team Jacob) and although the CGI werewolf seems more cute and cuddly than scary and menacing (and not at all what I expected), the trailer still completely delivered and met all my expectations. I can’t wait to see more of Jacob! Consider me impressed.

What do you think? Is “New Moon” going to be better than “Twilight”? Are you excited and hungry for more or disappointingly underwhelmed?

Eclipse: Casting for Third Twilight Flick Underway

Marc Malkin Marc Malkin

Los Angeles (E! Online) – Casting for the third Twilight movie has begun.

We got our hands on a casting notice for at least three characters in Eclipse.

Find out just what director David Slade is looking for. However, we must warn you that there are a few spoilers…

Riley “is a handsome, blond, clean-cut college boy who falls victim to Victoria,” the notice reads. He’s in his early to mid 20s and “plays an integral role in Victoria’s attempt to murder Bella Swan.”

There are two more members of the Quileute tribe and La Push wolf pack in Eclipse. Like New Moon, they are looking for Native American or First Nations actors to fill the roles.

“Seth Clearwater is a “tall, gangly-limbed boy with a huge, happy grin,” the notice reads. “Seth idolizes Jacob.”

Seth’s big sister is 19-year-old Leah Clearwater and the only female member of La Push: “She is tall and slender with beautiful skin and short cropped black hair. She would be considered gorgeous if not for the perpetual scowl she carries due to a broken heart and her anger issues.”

Now that Eclipse is up and running, what about the fourth, Breaking Dawn? As much as everyone in the cast wants it to happen, it still sounds like nothing’s official…yet.

“I’m signed for three,” Peter Facinelli told me at the MTV Movie Awards. “I’m hoping that they make four. I mean, if New Moon does well, I think they’ll make four.”

Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart have said they want to make Breaking Dawn, too.

When asked about four, Ashley Greene said, “I can’t even think that far in advance.”

Or maybe she can.

“They’re just going to have to make a Twilight Five,” she cracked. “I will be forever known as a Twilight girl.”

Greene and Kellan Lutz said they’ll start shooting Eclipse in August.