Let's Get This Party Started: Top Stories for Saturday 07/15/06

7/15/2006 11:31 AM PDT
Unable to decide whether Michael Jackson or his ex-business associate Marc Schaffel was the true sleazeball, the jury in Jacko's latest salacious courtroom battle awarded money to both sides.

The King of Pop's case ended yesterday in a split decision, though jurors in the case didn't seem particularly pleased about it.

The verdict in the two-week-long trial came back yesterday afternoon, with Santa Monica jurors ordering Jackson to pay Schaffel $900,000, while Jackson was awarded $200,000 in his cross-complaint. Schaffel had originally sued for $3.8 million, later reduced the claim to $1.4 million, and, in the end, will get something around half of what he asked for. "Obviously, I'm very happy," said Schaffel outside the courtroom. "We got less than I asked for but considering all the factors...I'm pleased."

The jurors expressed serious ambivalence about the two sides in the case. From the outset of their deliberations, according to the Los Angeles Times, jurors "were saying, 'He's a sleazeball,' " according to juror Cathleen Yancy. When asked which party she was describing, Yancy answered, "Both."

Irma Beard, a law firm receptionist, said, "The plaintiff was not the most upstanding character, but neither was the defendant." And when asked if the split decision suggested that both sides had made credible arguments, foreman Roy Shimogaki replied, laughing, "We wouldn't go that far."

Diana Crash Photos Spark Outrage, Princes' Anger

An Italian magazine is catching heat from all sides for publishing photos of Princess Diana taken moments after the crash that took her life.

Her sons, Princes William and Harry, expressed their anger yesterday at the publication of the horrific pictures by Milan-based Chi magazine. "We feel deeply saddened that such a low has been reached," they said in a rare statement. "Despite the support shown to us and our mother's memory by so many people over the last eight years, we feel that, as her sons, we would be failing in our duty to her now if we did not protect her, as she once did us."

Even the British tabloids, normally unburdened by journalistic or moralistic scruples, had refrained from publishing the pictures, which depicted Diana slumped and dying in the Mercedes sedan just after it had slammed into a Paris tunnel wall at high speed. The Italian magazine, for its part, said, through its rep, "[The pictures are] just an attempt to get closer to the truth of a drama that is still wrapped in too much mystery and too many lies."

Diddy Tries Actual Singing on New Record

On his latest album, Sean Combs takes a little left turn and tries his hand -- or voice -- at singing, or "fun singing," as the rapper-mogul calls it.

FOX News' Roger Friedman took the new record out for a brief spin, and reports that the reinvention of Diddy, as he will be referring to himself for the purposes of the album, is reasonably convincing. "Press Play," due October 3, is apparently full of small surprises for fans accustomed to Diddy's generally non-expressive rapping style and sample-heavy beats as well as guest stars including Christina Aguilera, Mary J. Blige, and Brandy.

On the song "Special Feelings," for instance, Diddy attempts a little R&B crooning, which he agrees isn't exactly Sinatra-singing, but, as he tells Friedman, "fun singing." Whatever that means.

Cameron Directs Cameo on "Entourage"

James Cameron made sure that his reputation remained intact with his cameo appearances on HBO's "Entourage," according to the show's creator.

Doug Ellin, speaking yesterday at the Television Critics Association meeting, said that Cameron really, really wanted his fictional "Aquaman" to be a financial and critical success. "Mr. Cameron didn't want 'Aquaman' to bomb, which, fortunately, we figured out a way to make sure that didn't happen," said Ellin. As for its critical reception, which doesn't get addressed on the show but is assumed to be positive, Ellin said, "[Cameron] didn't insist, but he asked nicely and he's got a strong presence, so we decided to go with that."

Meanwhile, art really is imitating life with the cast: Kevin Connolly, who plays Vince Chase's manager Eric on the show and who constantly frets about the gang's money situation, told the assembled scribes, "I just bought a house that I can't afford. We're still in the early stages of it, so hopefully it continues for a few more years."

Biel Auctions Off Date With Herself for Good Cause

Actress Jessica Biel has decided to put herself up for bid to help a Denver teenager who lost her leg in a prom night accident.

Molly Bloom, 18, was trying to get in a stretch Hummer limo on her prom night when the car took off and was dragged about 38 feet, resulting in the loss of her leg. Biel, a native of Boulder, Colo., was contacted by friends of Bloom and agreed to give herself (or a evening with her) up in an auction to help raise money for the teen's rehabilitation. "Come on, it's Jessica Biel," said an obviously excited Dmitri Lee Natali, a friend of Bloom's. "What guy wouldn't want to win a date with her?"

JJ Abrams Makes Surprise Move to Warner Bros.

"Alias" and "Lost" creator J.J. Abrams has made an abrupt switch in television studios, moving from his longtime perch at Touchstone Television to set up shop at Warner Bros. TV in a lucrative six-year production deal. Variety reports that the deal came together Friday morning, and that as recently as Wednesday, the writer-producer-director and Touchstone had been in active talks to renew his deal. What's more, Abrams arrival at Warner adds another prestigious name to the already stacked deck of showrunners there, including Jerry Bruckheimer, John Wells, and Aaron Sorkin.

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