Was there not a clause in Michael Jackson's last will and testament requesting that his children should, until they came of age, be brought up at least vaguely in the manner he would have wanted? Lost in Showbiz is moved to ask because his 16-year-old son, Prince Michael Jackson, has used the past month to make his debut as a showbiz reporter for Entertainment Tonight, guest star in an episode of 90210, and announce that he is also "looking to become well-rounded as a producer, director, screenwriter and actor". Obviously, none of us can second guess with total accuracy what Prince Michael's father would have wanted. But given that he required his children to wear masks or full veils in any public place, perhaps we could hazard the answer: "Not this."
Of his new reporting job, the first gig of which was a sitdown chat with the stars of new film Oz the Great and Powerful, Prince Michael declared: "I've been raised around stuff like this." And yet, Lost in Showbiz has to question that "stuff like this". Mildly unusual though interviewing the cast of a movie might seem, it somehow doesn't feel analogous with your father running a private fairground, or growing up in a house where the chimpanzee cleaning staff occasionally mounted dirty protests.
Given that Michael Jackson virtually admitted his entire life was a cautionary tale of child stardom, it seems faintly perplexing that this somewhat gauche youngster should be making such an early debut. But only faintly. We do, after all, have to take into account the fact that the children's formal guardian is faction-beset materfamilias Katherine – a woman to whom the exhortation "Don't put your children on the stage, Mrs Jackson" would seem a little belated.
Indeed, it was only a few months ago that this doting grandmother was being forced to explain that a selection of her children hadn't kidnapped her. I know, I know – just one of those everyday misunderstandings. This one arose after both Prince Michael and his sister Paris tweeted that they were banned from contacting their grandmother by persons unspecified. But if you were looking for leads, you may have cared to note that shortly after her disappearance, an SUV containing the precious cargo of Jermaine, Randy and Janet Jackson smashed through the absentee Katherine's security gates, and attempted to relieve the children of their mobile phones.
After 10 days, Katherine finally broke cover to explain she had merely left her three grandchildren at home and guardianless because she needed a break, and had decamped to an undisclosed spa in Arizona. The whole not calling thing was also explained – Katherine had left her mobile behind because: "I didn't want to have any phone calls while I was here."
Mmm. That opaque trip to the hot springs saw the guardianship of the three children evolve into a shared task, with a court ordering that their cousin Tito "TJ" Jackson should also assume responsibility for their welfare. Attempting to draw a line under various driveway arguments between the warring factions, lovingly captured by LA's videorazzi, TJ issued a statement. "After much soul-searching, it is clearly time for us to live by Michael's words about love not war," he explained. "In this spirit, I offer this statement by way of extending an olive branch. Mistakes have been made and irrational things have been said on both sides in a highly charged emotional environment. It is time for us all to draw a line in the sand and move towards peace, co-operation, love and healing."
That move appears to be complete, as this week Katherine filed court papers requesting that TJ be paid $9,000 (£6,000) a month from Jackson's estate for his role in the children's lives. An invoicing strategy Jackson fans will recognise from the famous chorus: "Heal the world / Make it a better place / For nine grand a month / I will fake good grace / Na- na-na-na-na-na / Da-da-da-da-da-da-da-da / something something / nine grand a month..."
Still, as Katherine put it to the court, it's what their nanny gets.
As for the other children, Paris recorded a hugely promoted Oprah Winfrey show a few months ago, while little Blanket – the crowdsurfing baby Jackson dangled off the balcony back in the day – is not likely to remain the unknown quantity for long.
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That doesn't entirely complete our roundup of child-effect dependants, of course – something Lost in Showbiz was reminded of by a recent snap of Prince Michael presenting his girlfriend with a love token. The gift in question? A cuddly toy chimpanzee, dressed in a sort of snazzed-up bellboy uniform, the sort ... well, the sort that once graced a certain 80s star named Bubbles. Not being an expert in blended family terminology, I am not sure how precisely one describes the relationship between Prince Michael and Bubbles. Whether Bubbles is Prince's step-brother or step-chimp, I wouldn't like to hazard, but the next time La Toya visits the Floridian animal sanctuary in which Bubbles now lives after conquering anger management problems, perhaps she could ask.
In the meantime, one daren't say whether settled waters lie ahead for this nuclear family (Chernobyl edition). But you can rule out any mercy dash for the children by the woman who gave birth to two of them – the erstwhile Mrs Jackson, Debbie Rowe. The level of Debbie's non-involvement can be gauged from a quote Lost in Showbiz still classes as one of the most eye-popping in the modern showbiz era: "I am absolutely around if the children need me for a liver, a kidney, a hello, whatever." What can you say? What. Can. You. Say?
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