Revisiting the scene outside the courthouse at the Michael Jackson trial – with a film of Dana Gedrick and Barry Shaw
Okay, guys, as you can see, this post was meant to be published on June 13, on Michael’s acquittal day, but for some reason I published it today by accident. I’m sorry for that, but since it happened now I leave it there since we have only 6 days left.
(Today) is the 9th anniversary of Michael Jackson’s official acquittal. Although June 13, 2005, was a happy day for the MJ fan community, in the long run the trial in 2005 had so many after-effects on Michael Jackson that I am convinced it contributed to a large extent to his death 4 years later.
This year we learned about a film that was made by two filmmakers of Santa Barbara – Dana Gedrick and Barry Shaw – who went to the trial in 2005 to observe the behavior of the fans, but ended up with observing the behavior of the media because they witnessed that the media and anti-fans behaved much more freaky and crazy than Michael and his fans.
Their film named “THE TRIALS OF MICHAEL JACKSON” can be purchased on Amazon:
http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00K41GDYM/ref=cm_sw_r_fa_dp_N0MAtb000E412 [/ and was introduced to fans on two radio shows:
More information is here: http://thetrialsofmichaeljackson.tumblr.com/
The anniversary is a good opportunity to remind us by means of this film of the ongoings in Santa Maria in 2005 and how the whole trial was made into a spectacle by the media and by all kinds of people, while for Michael it was terrible pain and the beginning of events that directly lead to his death. Next year we will have the 10th anniversary of this spectacle and we all want to make sure it will never be forgotten how this craziness got out of hand. So it is worth to revisit the scene in front of the courthouse and at the Neverland gate to expose the media and their accomplices and to show who were the real freaks then and there.
After Michael’s death I read the court transcripts, but after seeing this film now, I can imagine much better what kind of a circus overrun Santa Maria during these months, consisting of a released mob of slavering trophy hunters; rampant media pack, so biased that they even put the words they wanted to hear into the mouth of their interviewees; self-proclaimed preachers who claim to be god-sent, but come straight out of hell; panting haters who are not interested even in a spark of fact; busybodies who go to see any spectacle to voice their opinion; comedians who presented this trial just as entertainment and fun.
And between them a persevering group of fans who had to defend not only Michael, but also themselves for being there, who were labeled as crazy, who were attacked and ridiculed for their support of Michael and who stood against an overwhelming media machine. They were true heroes and we all have to be thankful that they were there to comfort Michael.
I asked myself again: How could Michael survive all this threat and exposure?
The enormous witch-hunt becomes clear again when we go once more into the situation the film presents us.
For those in Europe and other parts of the world who are not able to buy the film and have problems to understand spoken English I provide in the following a summarized record of it with the most substantial statements quoted. I am sorry for some graphic statements, but this is how far the mob went and what Michael and his advocates had to endure. And I couldn’t help but add a few personal notes.
Filmmakers Dana Gedrick and Barry Shawn are the narrators of the film, they are included as Dana and Barry.
I have to thank my friend Petra from Germany who borrowed me her DVD when I couldn’t order it from Amazon. Without her this post wouldn’t have been possible. Thank you very much, Petra!
At the beginning of the film we see scenes in front of the Santa Maria courthouse with media and fans as well as two snippets of TV reports talking about the media circus around the trial.
Then Dana tells how everything started with an article on the fans of Michael Jackson at the trial in Santa Maria (“Faces in the crowd”), which her son showed her, and how they got the idea to do a film on the Michael Jackson fans.
Barry: I just graduated from film school the day before we started shooting. This wasn’t exactly the project I’ve wanted to work on. But then again, something seemed intriguing about the fans of a man accused of being a p–file, especially one as colorful as Michael Jackson.
Barry tells that about 65% of the crowd consisted of members of the media, about 25% consisted of anti-fans and only 10 % were actual MJ fans.
We see the first severe scene at the Santa Maria Courthouse with Bobby Bible, Palm Springs, California (white middle-aged man with a beard and sunglasses holding a cross in his hand with Christ nailed on it) who is a Jackson hater and can be seen and heard during the film several times. He is screaming:
Michael Jackson is guilty. We gotta KILL Michael Jackson. You guys are a bunch of foolish kids, goofin’ off. The world’s going to hell, the muslims are attackin’ and all this. If it wasn’t for Bush … would you all hate [? inaudible].”
There are pictures of MJ in front of the courthouse, anti-fans and fans are shouting in turns “Guilty – Innocent”
Santa Maria police officer:
We have a variety of people coming from all over the world. Australia, Japan, different countries throughout Europe. All want to see the famous singer…
Dana and Barry then go on to talk about their difficulties to interview the fans because they didn’t trust anybody with a camera. Dana explains that on the first day of the trial only a handful of fans were there, that they were not going to talk to her and that she didn’t understand why.
At Neverland front gate fan Gregory Son is coming towards their camera saying “Goddam paparazzi”.
Barry: I thought it would be easy. I thought we could go up there, you know, film the fans, but they actually would not let us. Most of them would turn away, wouldn’t answer my questions, wouldn’t talk to me, try to cover up the camera. (film shows fans running away from camera, holding their hands in front of camera etc)
Overall they had this feeling of distrust for anyone with a camera. (film shows fan BJ saying: “They’re all trash, anybody with a camera is trash”)
It took several weeks with these fans for them to put their guard down enough to let us film them.
After Dana and Barry could finally connect with the fans, several of them talked into camera and became a part of this film.
Emily Smith, fan from the UK:
[…] I used to impersonate him and just sound like him because I was fascinated by him, and I suppose maybe when I was about 12 or 13 I started looking at the deeper issues surrounding Michael, such as his humanitarian efforts and the charitable nature and that kind of thing, so that was I suppose when I really became a supporter. Here is an innocent man on trial where the media have already tried making him look guilty, even before he’s had a chance to prove himself that he is innocent. But it’s supposed to be a law where you are innocent until you’re proven guilty. […]
BJ Hickman, fan from Knoxville, Tennessee:
BJ was an 18 year old young man who quit school and his job to come to Santa Maria to support Michael during the trial. He was a staunch defender of Michael and voiced his opinion loudly to everybody. When Dana asks him what his family thinks he says that it doesn’t really matter what they think.
We see scenes again from the courthouse with Fans shouting: “Heck with the press, Michael is the best.” BJ is shouting: “Go home, you nasty press member. Go home.”
BJ became somewhat of a celebrity at the courthouse and was interviewed by several media outlets.
BJ: Michael wears an armband. He says that as long as he has an armband on his job ain’t done. And his job is to manage that there’s no hungry children in the world. That’s why he records songs like “Man in the Mirror” and “We are the World” and “Heal the World” and all the others.
Fan Wiedjai Sewgobind, Amsterdam, Netherlands:
For the American fans it’s very easy, they take their car or their local flight, but I think the most frustrating time will come, I mean it doesn’t matter what we believe or know, whether he is innocent or guilty, but waiting for the jurors to decide. It could be one day, could be weeks, could be months. Nobody knows. I think for the fans right now it looks like a little bit fun, but it’s serious.
Subline: SANTA BARBARA DISTRICT ATTORNEY TOM SNEDDON
The next section is about Tom Sneddon and Diane Dimond. Dana and Barry explain that the fans believe Sneddon had a vendetta toward Michael Jackson and that the 2005 case was brought forward because the first case in 1993 was settled out of court.
Emily: Tom Sneddon is going to be retiring soon. There is one thing he said he wanted to complete before his retirement, and that was getting Michael behind that stand. And he succeeded in doing that, but I think people are going to be seeing his true colors pretty soon.
Tom Sneddon in press conference:
I know of no prosecutor that I have ever met who had issued an arrest warrant for an individual hoping that they would uncover some evidence that would justify the filing of criminal charges later.
We see fans shouting repeatedly at the courthouse: No evidence – not guilty , no evidence – not guilty…
Dana asks BJ why he is not allowed in the courtroom anymore and BJ answers that he had a conversation with Michael in the hallway, so they kicked him out. He also screamed at Diane Dimond and had to promise not to scream anymore. The film shows BJ in front of the courthouse shouting: “Go to hell, Diane!”
Dana: The fans hated Diane Dimond. Barry and I had no clue who she was. But we would soon find out.
At S. M. courthouse, BJ is shouting: “Stop your lies!”
Barry says that Dimond has covered the accusations against Michael Jackson since 1993 and BJ tells on camera that Michael sued Diane Dimond in the 90ies for slander and false statements.
Barry: I found out on CNN that BJ was right. The same District Attorney on both cases, Tom Sneddon, actually helped reporter Diane Dimond to get out of a lawsuit with Michael Jackson.
TV report, Howard Kurtz, CNN, talking to Catherine Crier, Court TV:
She was sued by Jackson, unsuccessfully as it turned out. The DA in the case, Tom Sneddon, helped her out there. Is that the kind of thing that should be shared with viewers when she reports on it? The Court TV spokesman is quoted as saying ‘not necessary’.
Crier: Well, I don’t know that it necessarily is because it’s not …. This was 10-12 years ago, and in fact when they say Sneddon helped her out, he simply gave a deposition, an appropriate piece of information that the judge then used to dismiss that case.
- NOTE: This is the document which Sneddon provided for Diane Dimond’s support: (we have this document thanks to Paula: http://turningthetableonthechandlerallegations.wordpress.com/2014/04/24/three-stooges-dimond-gutierrez-and-allen/ )
- NOTE: Tom Sneddon wrote in his declaration (no. 4): “I did tell Miss Dimond that our investigation was still open and we would pursue any new information received.” This is in contradiction to his later statements that he never thought of Michael Jackson after the 1993 case and that he had no vendetta against him.
Dana: A lot of the fans were definitely not what I expected. They were not the crazy people that my son showed me on the front page of the newspaper.
Dana asks Emily what makes her so passionate in her crusade for Michael.
Emily: I think it’s the fact that Michael has been a great inspiration to me for most of my life. I love the way he’s an individual, the way he’s not afraid to be different, the way he’s not afraid to fight for what he believes in, and I think it’s a very serious issue. And I don’t think that the trial should have been publicized or brought to this level. The media hope all the way through, especially Court TV, and other individuals … have all shown to be biased in favor of the prosecution, maybe because it is more commercially viable for them to put Michael Jackson down. It’s something they’ve done pretty much for most of his career, certainly for the last 15, 20 years. So, you know, why change now?
The film shows different scenes at the courthouse with media people and fans and MJ with his entourage. There is one scene where officers lead a fan away and take away his “not guilty” sign.
Subline: MICHAEL JACKSON GOES TO THE HOSPITAL
Next we see Nancy Grace on CNN, Today’s News, with the famous glove scene. She asks Jane Velez-Mitchell if Jackson was in the hospital once or twice over the weekend.
Jane Velez-Mitchell: Alright, well, he was in the hospital towards the end of last week and then he was in the hospital yesterday. There was a scuffle that broke out between some still photographers and somebody who was purportedly a security guard, a camera smashed to the ground, I watched all of this.
We see a chaotic scene in front of Cottage Hospital, Santa Ynez Valley, with masses of media pack and people shouting and discussing.
One person shouts: “Get off the premises now.”
Velez-Mitchell is twice shouting loudly: “Officer, what’s his name and title?”
A male person shouts: “Careful, that guy is armed, surrender his weapon!”
Then Jane Velez-Mitchell is interviewing a witness named Don (older man with baseball cap):
V-M: What happened?
Don: It appeared as though the cameraman bounced his camera off the side of one of Michael Jackson’s cars, not the one he was in, but the other escort car.
V-M: Yeah, but then there was another camera that fell to the ground, after, a big black camera was smashed to the ground. It appeared that it might have been done by a security guard here.
Don: Wow, I didn’t see that, I’m terribly sorry.
V-M: What is it like? Do you live in this area?
Don: No, I don’t. I’m just passing through – but they arrested the gentleman with the camera. The sheriffs took him away because they thought he did something wrong.
V-M: This is kind of crazy, isn’t it?
Don: Well, I think the cameraman thought the car got too close and almost hit him. And he said God-dang-it or something like that. And he threw the camera at the car! Well why else would he do that?
V-M: Well, I’ve never seen a photographer throw a camera. Oh, here comes someone. Thank you. What’s your name, sir?
Don: Don, but, but…
V-M: Don what? … Okay, alright.
Don: But the thing of it is, they arrested the guy.
V-M: I heard you… thank you, sir. (goes away)
Don tells the story again to Dana and Barry:
The one photographer threw his camera at the second Michael Jackson car. But he looked to me like an older British gentleman, who seemed fine, but apparently he felt that the car came too close to him and tried to hit him, so then he threw the camera at him. And you could hear a plop at the side of the car. And now the Sheriff’s deputies, there’s no question about it, they’re gonna arrest that guy. At least they take him down for questioning.
- NOTE: What was described by Jane Velez-Mitchell in her report as an incident where a security guard (of Michael) smashed a camera of a photographer was quite different according to this witness. The fact that a photographer was arrested because he had thrown his camera at one of Michael’s cars was not what she wanted to hear from witness Don. So she tried to put words into his mouth, answered her question herself and when he insisted in what he saw she just stopped him from talking by going away.
Next Dana and Barry are talking about the love-hate-relationship the fans had with the media.
Dana says as time went on she started to see their use of the media and what they wanted to use the media for.
Fan Shakia from Philadelphia, PA, talking to the media:
And I don’t think I’m crazy, I’m sorry, but I love Michael Jackson. And I’m not going to let anybody tell me I’m crazy because I’m coming here to support him. He deserves support and I believe he’s innocent. And he’s gonna get my support. And everybody here does support him as long as this trial is going to be. I’m gonna be here.
Myra, fan from the Netherlands, talks at Neverland:
After 20 years we still fall for it. Jim Moret (chief correspondent Inside Edition) comes here, pretends to be listening to the fans, win their trust – ‘Oh, we want to listen to your opinion and what is your take on the trial’ – win their trust. As soon as you get their trust, whip up the camera and the microphone and use the fans for a program and make fun of them. I mean, as soon as I saw the camera I left, but they do this every single time. Pretend they’re your friend and then whip up the camera and make fun of you.
At Neverland Jim Moret sits in his car and fans discuss his behavior with him.
Myra: You just whipped up the camera after everyone was standing around, instead of making your intentions known from the beginning. You came and pretended like you extra cared about our opinion.
Dana: We never saw the report. But what Myra said hit me like a ton of bricks. I guess you could say I had some guilt because I started out agreeing with them so WE could film. And now I was starting to understand what they meant by being exploited.
Then we see a scene at NL gate where Steve Smith (BBC News Night, UK) tries to interview fans, but is not successful and looks rather frustrated.
Dana: They just wanted to be taken seriously. But there was so much opposition towards them from the media and people who just didn’t like Michael Jackson.
This is the transition to a scene at the courthouse where MJ haters are among fans. We can see T-shirts with inscriptions like “Jesus Christ the Messiah can save you from sin and hell” and signs with “Homo sex is sin”, “America: Execute all homosexual pedophiles right now” as well as bible verses.
Fans are shouting continuously: “Proud to be a Michael Jackson fan.”
An anti-fan provokes them: “Whose fan?” – “Can’t hear you”. He laughs at fans and challenges them: “Oh, you gonna beat me up? You gonna beat me up? Are you a tough guy?”
Then we learn about an incident at Neverland from Emily:
Also today some fans had gone and put about 40 signs all the way along the road up to Neverland to give Michael some hope and support and give him something to smile about, and some lady went and mowed them all down today with her car. (signs are shown along the road: Hey Michael – We love you – You are special… etc)
In addition, Dana tells that police stopped 3 teenage boys for destroying the signs.
A Spanish female fan says:
They were just saying like ‘negroes go back home’, ‘people who don’t belong here’, which is not fair, you know, it is just not fair because we just decided not to say anything back to them, you know.
But this is what they did, this is what they did one more time today. It’s just shocking, I mean, and they’re just kids, you know.
Dana and Barry filmed the three white, short-haired teenage boys sitting in a pickup. The driver with a cigarette, wearing sun glasses, is talking into camera:
Why do I voice my opinion? Because I believe he’s guilty and I think he needs just punishment. Just like these people are voicing their opinion about him being innocent and supporting him.
A lot of locals are coming out here and doing similar things, voicing their opinions.
Gregory: I’m tired, obviously those young boys came back before and were screaming out ‘nigger this’ and ‘p–file that’ to Michael and to the fans and this is getting way out of hand, they’re coming by throwing eggs…
A young male fan shows bruises on his belly. Dana asks him what happened and he explains that a car drove by and someone from the car threw an egg at him.
Gregory: This is making it worse. It’s almost like people want to provoke the fans.
- NOTE: These young boys have the audacity to compare their actions to those of the fans and require the same rights. The fans at NL gate didn’t destroy anything, they were peaceful and didn’t provoke anybody. But voicing their opinion means for these boys to destroy signs, throw eggs and shout racist comments. The media apparently didn’t regard this violent and racist behavior as worth reporting.
In addition, they claim punishment without a verdict, whereas the fans just require a fair trial.
Next follows a turbulent scene at Santa Maria courthouse with haters holding signs with “God bless America”. MJ hater Bobby Bible, holding a white piece of paper with a mushroom attached to it in a plastic bag, is screaming:
Right here, right here, in black and white. Hey Judge, jury, get this into evidence!
Someone says: Jordie Chandler’s sketch…
Dana: KFI Radio had two talkshow hosts (John and Ken, the John and Ken Show, KFI AM Los Angeles) that came to the front of the courthouse. They had private security guards carrying a box of mushrooms in bags with a sketch attached to them of Michael Jackson’s genitalia. This was supposedly the sketch drawn by Michael Jackson’s first accuser Jordie Chandler in 1993.
(box with bags is shown as well as a large copy of Jordie Chandlers drawing, the hater is shouting again: Get the evidence right here.)
Lisa Bloom, Legal News Correspondent, ABC, Nightline:
The prosecution should have subpoenaed the 1993 boy. And his drawings of Jackson’s genitals which were the smoking gun in that case never came in.
- NOTE: We all know which drawing they talk about. We have discussed it numerous times here on this blog.
The drawing was taken from Ray Chandler’s book, so the book was obviously in the hands of media people who made use of it for their programs.
Lisa Bloom’s (daughter of Gloria Allred) comments could have been replied to easily, but she just used a typical media method by throwing in phrases without further explanation in order to twist the whole context.
First, the boy (Jordie Chandler) WAS asked to testify, but he refused and threatened legal steps if he is forced to, and then left the country to avoid the whole trial.
Second, the drawing she calls the smoking gun in the 1993 case never came in because it didn’t match the photos of MJ’s private parts and was useless as evidence.
The radio hosts explain to their “audience” the sketch and mushrooms and hand them out.
Fan Wiedjai: Before they came they introduced to the fans like they were nice press, but they have other intentions.
Radio hosts talking to hater: You think Michael Jackson is guilty?
Hater shouting: I do, it looks bad. Looks bad, 10 counts.
Radio host: Have you told these people here, his fans?
Hater shouting: MICHAEL, COME OUT, WE KNOW YOU’RE IN THERE!
Subline: MICHAEL JACKSON MEETS A FAN
In the next section Dana is asking Emily if Michael shows his appreciation to the fans for their support. Emily describes how Michael showed his appreciation by opening the gates to Neverland a couple of times for the fans and how each day a different fan can meet him.
The film shows a scene where Michael’s car approaches and stops at the gate of NL. They open the back door of the SUV, MJ waves to the fans.
Michael invites Nayiri Torigian, a fan battling two types of cancer, in his car, hugs her, kisses her hand and talks to her. She gives him a gift and cries and people clap their hands.
After talking to Michael for several minutes he takes her hand and hugs her again before she gets out of the car.
Barry tells that Torigian died of cancer not long after the trial was over.
Subline: THE LOTTERY
While Michael Jackson’s lawyers Susan Yu and Thomas Mesereau can be seen walking into the courthouse with trolleys, Dana says:
I wanted to hear what the defense was saying and I wanted to hear what the prosecution was saying. You couldn’t help but want to know more as you started to get to know a lot of the fans.
Barry talks about the lottery to allow a certain number of people from the public to go inside and observe the courtroom proceedings.
An excerpt of a FOX News report follows in which the reporter explains the lottery held at 6 a.m. every morning and tells that this morning 300 people were there for the lottery and 45 were selected to get a courtroom seat.
Fans are shown shouting in unison and holding signs in support of Michael, and Emily explains that groups of fan-clubs also from Europe are present and that more and more people turn up at the courthouse every day. There are scenes of foreign fan groups with signs and flags and a large banner with probably several hundred photos of fans and the headline “Michael you are not alone”.
Barry says that often media reporters were involved in the lottery with fans and other observers trying to get into the courtroom.
A scene at the courthouse is shown with an officer standing in an elevated position and explaining to the waiting crowd:
If you are media then this is important. If you are media and you plan to go through the public lottery you fall under the public rules. So you might take that media ID off and put in your pocket because you won’t have that media privilege. You will be under the rules of the public. Sorry.
Dana: After going into the courtroom my opinion did start to change. I know some people might think that’s crazy, but a lot of what the fans said about the testimony was true.
Next follows the description of Jay Leno‘s court appearance and his following jokes about it in his show.
Barry: Jay Leno was a witness for the defense because he had prior contact with the accuser Gavin Arvizo.
Fan Gouward, who was in the courtroom during Jay Leno’s testimony, as well as Mike Taibbi in a TV report for NBC, The Big Idea, explain how Leno’s testimony revealed that accuser Gavin Arvizo called him several times and left messages, which made him suspicious because he sounded scripted, not like a child, and that he heard someone in the background.
Fan Tammy tells at NL gate about Jay Leno’s jokes after his testimony:
[…] I was in court the next day and Jay Leno – I give you the background – Jay Leno made a joke on his show after testifying, he had still the judge’s gavel…
We see Jay Leno joking in his show about his testimony in Santa Maria:
I just come back from testifying, I feel kind of bad ‘cause I grabbed this souvenir before I left. I know you’re not supposed to do that. (pulls the judge’s gavel out of his pocket – audience laughs)
Tammy: And on the next day the judge came in and first thing he said was: Where’s my gavel? And the jury all laughed – so, you know, we all kind of think, obviously they’re watching at least the Jay Leno Show. As everybody knows Jay Leno makes fun of Michael all the time about the child molestation and all of that, which is totally inappropriate.
Jay Leno Show – Leno goes on joking:
… You know, I had my little cell phone and my camcorder with me while I was in the witness holding area, and I got pictures of all the other witnesses…
(Shows picture of other witnesses: a group of several young boys drinking alcohol)
TV report, Shepard Smith, Fox News anchor:
We know that they watched Leno one night. We know they did. They laughed at something that came from a joke from the Leno show. They wouldn’t have laughed…
Tammy: There’s kind of proof that they ARE watching.
Barry: Did the judge laugh?
Tammy: Yeah, he laughed, the jury laughed, the media laughed. I didn’t see any other fans laugh, to be honest with you.
Drew Findling, criminal defense attorney, on FOX News to Shepard Smith:
You know, Shep, I have a rule in high profile cases that I try. You could tell the jury as much as you want: Don’t read the newspaper, don’t watch TV, don’t talk to your neighbors, don’t talk to your loved ones, and if you believe they actually do that, then I sell you swamp in Florida.
Subline: BJ’S MOTEL ROOM
Scene: BJ is watching CNN Headline Prime with Nancy Grace and Jane Velez-Mitchell together with fan Shakia and Barry and Dana.
We hear snippets of Velez-Mitchell’s and Grace’ reports cut together:
“There is a lot of other testimony that’s very significant. Alcohol and porn are two key aspects of this case” – “He looks like the bizarre babysitter” – “…that he is that rebellious 13-year-old in his mindset, and when he’s operating with these children he almost operates the way he wished he had been treated. So I’m sure he wishes that someone would drink alcohol …(inaudible)”
BJ shakes his head, Shakia says: She is so stupid.
Barry: What are you guys going to do if they convict him of this?
Shakia: Oh my God, I don’t even wanna think about this, I don’t even wanna think about this.
BJ: Don’t ask that. I can’t think about this because it’s not going to happen. He’s innocent. We shouldn’t even think that way about it.
While Grace and Velez-Mitchell are talking about fans, there are scenes of fans holding hands and singing “Heal the World” in front of NL gate.
Dana: The trial started February 28th and lasted three and a half months. The month of May was when our film started to take a different direction.
Dana now tells the story how she was filming like everybody else in front of the courthouse, which is public property, and a young woman producing for Court TV didn’t like being filmed.
Dana: This woman who works for Court TV (shows young woman with a blond ponytail in a denim jacket with a cup of coffee in her hand) got mad at me for pointing the camera in her direction. So she walked over to me and pushed the camera in my face.
I got a little bit out of shape because I was there doing the same thing she was doing. So I decided to turn the cameras around.
This means she started to film the media people.
We now see a scene where Dana discusses with Roger Friedman, correspondent for Fox News at the time, why he wants the fans to sing “Heal the World” for his camera, but doesn’t want to sing himself for her camera.
Moments later Friedman asks Dana:
Now why you have your camera at me? I want to say something very important.
Dana: Why not?
Friedman, approaching and talking into the camera: I tell you something very important. You have no release to use this anywhere in the world for anything except private use.
Dana: Why does it matter why I’m filming you?
Friedman: I’m just reminding you.
Dana: But you’re holding a camera, you’re filming them.
Friedman: I’m reminding you.
Dana: They’re easy with it, so you should be easy with it, too.
Friedman: You’ve been reminded.
Dana: OK, thank you.
- NOTE: It becomes obvious that media people who feel they have the right to film everybody and use it for their programs without asking permission don’t like to be filmed themselves at all.
We can see fans shouting at courthouse: Fox News sucks!
Dana is talking to several media people and asks them for their opinion, if the media is representing the trial fairly and why they are there. All of them regard their own coverage as unbiased.
During one of the conversations a person with a horrible MJ mask is shown, surrounded by photographers.
Subline: SANTA MARIA COURTHOUSE
What now follows is a very graphic statement for which I have to apologize, but that’s what is captured on film and that’s what some freaks in America seem to be about.
Hater Bobby Bible again, filmed by Barry:
My thing is, hey, let’s get a little fun back in christianity MTV, let’s get a little fun, let’s put some fun…. I’m gonna tell you, if a guy is guilty like Michael Jackson, he is really guilty, he did some bad things, then we take his penis, we put it on a table, we get pay-per-view, we get pay-per-view, we get the victim’s mother in there with a hatchet, we put Michael’s penis on the table, and Michael’s a big famous guy, we get everybody in the nation and in the whole world saying okay – here is what happens when you put your penis in a little girl or a little boy’s mouth. PAM, she cuts his penis off, Michael Jackson runs around bleeding to death, screaming his head off, we get replays, slow plays, everybody’s in on it, the kids are going WOW. ‘Hey, I never wanna do that, daddy.’ Well, that’s exactly why you do it on TV. Michael Jackson is dead!
(Film shows another scene with this hater in a red T-shirt with inscription “Fear God”, holding a sign “Hell”; wears sun glasses all the time).
Look, I don’t give a squat who said anything. Michael Jackson, a 40 year old picking mass got these boys in his bedroom, the guy’s got a problem. I don’t care who said it, what said it, everybody agrees that he’s got these boys, and now there are some complaints. Wake up, America. He got a problem.
Dana to Barry: Why are you wasting film on this guy?
Hater (very hateful and aggressive): Because I’m a preacher of Jesus Christ, little girl. You’re so stupid and blind, you love Michael Jackson who molests little kids. A nice going, nice going for the little kids…. What a great mother you’ll be!
Dana (narrative): For the record: I don’t love Michael Jackson, but I am a mother and I was in the courtroom for this trial. Suddenly the faces were real. At this point there was no way I could find anything about the trial funny.
This forms a transition to the next section which shows how the trial was used by comedians and others for fun and entertainment.
At first we can see animal rights activists of PETA in front of the courthouse who offer veggie burgers and carry signs “Free Veggie Burgers!” – a young woman wears a lettuce bikini.
Next we see a scene from the The Jimmy Kimmel Show (late night talkshow on ABC), who sent comedian Tony Barbieri to Santa Maria as a Michael Jackson fan impersonator. Barbieri is shown wearing a sweat-shirt with Michael’s mug shot and “He’s not Hitler” printed on it.
Dana: He thought it would be fun to invite kids into the Michael Jackson bouncer.
Barbieri alias “Jake Byrd, Michael Jackson Super Fan”, is on the bouncer, shouting like a kid:
I’ve been bouncing all day with all these kids. Look, I’m kind of watching kids. This is all for you, Michael.
Kimmel says laughing: Well, don’t please release them when Michael gets out.
Jake: I don’t make any promises.
Kimmel: Jake, are you gonna be bouncing until they deliver a verdict?
Jake: I’m hoping to…… (inaudible)
In another scene Barbieri/Jake Byrd joins fans dancing to “They don’t care about us” in front of the courthouse, an angry BJ makes signs to him and goes away.
At Neverland Ranch, fan Myra says:
You know, nowadays these people think humor and creativity in humor is just bluntly to people’s face make fun of them and see how they respond. That’s not creativity, I mean, that’s not comedian. It’s supposed to be funny. Even if you think you’re funny, then be creative and write your own jokes, instead of just insulting people to their face.
In another scene at the Santa Maria courthouse Triumph, the Insult Comic Dog, talks to a man in the guise of Michael Jackson (recorded for Late Night with Conan O’Brien):
Wow, look at you. You got the hair and the clothes, (his view goes down along the body) you even got the same vagina.
Conan O’Brien says in his show:
We thought who better to send to the Michael Jackson trial to give us a fair and balanced analysis, it’s just an analysis of what’s happening, our good friend Triumph, the Insult Comic Dog. (audience applauds and screams)
We sent him the other day and here is Triumph’s report:
Triumph (talks with an Eastern European accent): Yes, people have assembled from all over the world, going together by a common disconnect with reality and absence of logic.
(During Triumph’s report fans are shown with signs “Not guilty”, “Michael, Ireland believes in you”, “Support Michael Jackson”, fans wearing hats, sunglasses and armbands)
Gregory: They’ve made a joke out of it. They turned it around. …
There is also a scene at Neverland gate with Robert Smigel, creator of Triumph, with a lot of crosstalk, Triumph talks into microphone, makes jokes, fans have discussions with Smigel.
Dana makes fun of Smigel as well:
What do you think? Did you graduate from college? What was your major? Was it puppeteering? You must have a really good pay check, I mean, to come out here with a puppet. You do it so well!
(Smigel doesn’t seem to be amused, says “thank you” und wants to go away)
Again in Santa Maria, Triumph jokes with a woman about Michael crying and coming to court in his pyjamas and says in a microphone:
None of us can really know if Michael Jackson is innocent or guilty. But there is one thing we do know: He’s guilty.
In the next scene Barry tells about his own courtroom experience.
Barry (narrative): Sometimes you have to let go off your opinions, stop sitting through other people’s opinions and let the evidence be the truth.
In an exchanged position Gregory Son interviews Barry:
Barry into camera: It was boring.
Gregory: Why was that? Is there any relevance to any of the information that they were talking about?
Barry: No, … they were arguing the same point over and over, back and forth, and it really wasn’t much of a point to begin with. And they spent almost the whole day on it, but part of it was interesting. They talked to the social workers that responded to the first allegations.
They all said the same thing. Their testimony was that Janet, her kids, Star and the other, didn’t…. they all said that Michael was an angel, that he was like a father they never had, that he did, you know, so many things for them. They only had good things to say about him. There was not one bad thing …
This is more detailed now by a TV report of Aphrodite Jones for FOX News, who also tells that the accuser “remembers or decides to reveal that this alleged act of molestation occurred” only after he met with the social workers and the dean of his middle school, after he did all these interviews and after he met with two laywers.
Barry: Janet Arvizo and her family began seeing civil lawyers about their case against Michael Jackson on February 21st, 2003. It wasn’t until June 13, 2003, four months later, that Janet told the police about the alleged molestation of her son. While in court, I also learned that the child’s mother had been involved in another sexual assault case when her two boys were caught stealing at JC Penney. She filed a lawsuit against JC Penney claiming their security guards sexually assaulted her. She won a settlement of close to 150,000 $, which she never claimed while receiving welfare checks for several years. Janet changed her name three times in the last 5 years or so. First, it was Janet Ventura, then Janet Arvizo, now it’s Janet Jackson.
Scene: Neverland gate – Aphrodite Jones and Roger Friedman are talking to fans.
Barry: Two reporters showed up at Neverland that afternoon. Roger Friedman and Aphrodite Jones, both for Fox News, both looking for some hope for another story from the fans.
Friedman says to fans: I tell you what, I don’t think he did molest Gavin Arvizo. I’ve said it. I’ve said it before.
This is followed by a retrospect: Roger Friedman on Fox News some time before:
10 years ago he had a problem with charges of child abuse and he narrowly escaped it by paying off the family. Then he could have had therapy, could have had treatment, it’s heartbreaking to see what he may have done to other children.
Fans are asking Friedman about his intentions, what he is doing at Neverland.
Friedman asks: What are YOU doing here?
Male Fan: I’m trying to find out what your intentions are.
Friedman: What my intentions are? Well, I don’t know if I could tell you my intentions.
A female fan asks him: What is your friend doing here?
Friedman: Who, Aphrodite or June?
Friedman: She came with me.
Fan: Is she doing a special report on the freaks around here?
Friedman: No, no, she just wants to hang around to see what’s happening.
Fan: You lie so bad, man.
Fan: You lie so bad, you have so ….
Friedman: We really did just wanna come out to see what’s happening.
Gregory asks AJ about her opinion. She says: I don’t know…
Gregory: You don’t know, you’ve been following this one, and you don’t even know? You have an opinion every day on television, but you don’t know now?
During the discussions between Aphrodite and the fans, the film presents a TV scene from The O’Reilly Factor where AJ tells that it doesn’t look good for Jackson and his team. When O’Reilly mentions that “they wished this family away to Brazil somewhere against their will on a private jet”, AJ says that “they” had the passports and the visas.
This is followed by another excerpt with Bill O’Reilly two years later where AJ says that “the media already decided that Jackson was guilty before there was ever a trial, based on prior allegations that were allegations, just that.”, and that she doesn’t think MJ is a p–file.
Emily: This isn’t about just a celebrity being put on trial. This is about a human being, a man who, you know, he’s a father, he has a life. He does want a private life. And, you know, I just hope that people can hold on and keep an open mind despite whatever they say on the TV. I just hope they can wait until everything from both the prosecution and the defense have put their cases forward and then make up their minds and then have an opinion.
- NOTE: Emily is a perfect example of the misrepresentation of fans as freaks. Can it be said in a more reasonable way how the media and society should deal with a trial like this? – This shows again on which side the real freaks were, just compare the behavior of these fans with that of media and haters.
Subline: NEVERLAND RANCH, JURY DELIBERATIONS, JUNE 2005
Next the film shows Art Harris, two-time Emmy award winning CNN investigative correspondent, at NL gate, recording a TV report.
Barry: I had never seen anything like this. A reporter reporting a story that hadn’t happened yet.
Harris, being filmed by his crew (during jury deliberations), into camera:
Three, two, one… Even though his fans will be with him forever, in the end the jury just did not believe that Michael Jackson was Peter Pan, that what was going on here behind the gates of Neverland was nothing innocent, that there was nothing normal about the 45 year old man sleeping with young boys. (Fans are disturbing the recording by waving in the background and talking in between: “That’s a lie!”)
There were too many dubious allegations to ignore. You had idiots like fans…. - (he is disrupted)
Barry: Art Harris was prerecording his coverage of the conviction of Michael Jackson. What better place to do it than right there in front of the fans?
Dana is also filming and challenging Art Harris with questions:
Where did you go to journalism school? Where? Why can’t you answer my question?
Harris ignores the questions, his cameraman answers:
Because if you went to journalism school you have to do a job sometimes, ok?
Dana: So, do you feel that he’s being accurate? Wait, don’t touch….
Harris can be heard saying: “Can we ask you a favor?”, then he holds his hand in front of Dana’s camera and pushes it away. He comes across very provocative and arrogant, the fans are outraged and disrupt the recordings.
Then we can see a police officer talking to fans. Apparently the CNN people called police for help.
Harris can be seen in front of Dana’s camera holding his thumb up and smiling arrogantly.
An officer can be heard saying: “Ok, guys, we don’t want any problems. I can’t stop them calling you freaks, ok?”
Subline: DAYS BEFORE THE VERDICT
Female reporter of Showbiz Tonight on camera at NL gate:
Big crowds at the courthouse today, and at times the fans have been antagonistic towards the media. In fact, Court TV’s Diane Dimond yesterday obtained a temporary restraining order against one of those fans, 18 year old BJ Hickman. Hickman is here from Knoxville, Tennessee, to support Michael Jackson. (BJ is shown on TV, shouting)
Now Dimond alleges BJ was inciting people to attack her. She now has three guards to protect her. Hickman says that he will comply with this order, but that he doesn’t think that it’s fair.
Gregory: Diane Dimond, excuse me, Diane Demon has served BJ Hickman with papers.
Barry: The restraining order meant BJ could not protest anymore in front of the courthouse or he’d be arrested.
Gregory accompanies BJ when he leaves the area, BJ showing the victory sign, they are filmed by several cameramen.
Gregory: He’s loud every day, and he’s there chanting for Michael, fighting with and for Michael, and he doesn’t keep it to himself, when he speaks his mind about Diane. But he does it within his vicinity, right where we’re supposed to, where we’re allowed to protest.
We’re really really tired, we’re really really exhausted. We’ve come to this low point, I have at least, and I’m sick to death with it. I’m sick, and I don’t know what to do anymore. I want to stay strong, I want to be here for Michael, and we’re going to be here to the very end and beyond, you know what I mean? But we’ve had enough. We’ve definitely had enough.
Then we see an excerpt of Court TV and hear how the verdict is read and fans at the courthouse and NL are beginning to scream, dance, sing, clap hands, cry, “Thank you, thank you” shouts in unison. They show a newspaper with headline: “Not guilty on all counts”.
Dana asks a young man at NL: “How do you feel?” The fan answers with tears: “I can’t describe it.” There is indescribable happiness and relief among the fans.
Next Barry and Dana are sitting in front of many newspapers about the trial.
Barry: When I first started this project I thought it was going to be a funny documentary, a fun documentary, you know, something that will be humorous and kind of light. But it ended up being really a very heavy issue. I don’t know why I thought it was gonna be funny and light, I mean it was a child molestation trial, but for some reason, because it was involving Michael Jackson, I had this, I don’t know, I had this feeling that it was going to be a big joke. And I know now, I think I know now why I felt that way.
Dana: When I watch the news today I definitely see a pattern. Despite the far more crucial issues in the world news broadcasters I think are in the business of making lots of money, and the news just isn’t the news anymore. Nothing increases ratings or gets more advertising time than a potential guilt of a celebrity, and the Michael Jackson trial is definitely just one example of this. I think the news broadcasters think that they have to hype their stories in order to keep us interested and this just makes me wonder, you know. Will we ever believe or can we ever trust what we see in the news?
With this conclusion their film ends.
We see again snippets of media reports by several media outlets superimposed on another. The name “Michael Jackson” is said numerous times at the end.
Written, directed and produced by Dana Gedrick & Barry Shaw
In the final credits comedian Tony Barbieri as Fan Jake Byrd can be seen shouting: “Michael is innocent.” (He now wears a sweat shirt with Michael’s mug shot and the writing: Full release!)
He says into camera: “There is something I would like to say to Santa Barbara District Attorney Tom Sneddon. I have a prepared statement. May I? (makes a flatulating sound and points to his backside). I didn’t get to talk to MJ or his family, but I did get to talk to BJ who’s a kind of chubby fan of Michael. He hates me. (laughs stupidly) … (inaudible) …yeah, restraining order.
I heard Phil Spector’s in trouble…. Here we go again….” (screaming and laughing)…
- NOTE: YES, THE SHOW MUST GO ON!!! Phil Spector was another celebrity waiting for his trial for second-degree murder committed in 2003. After a hung jury and a retrial he was convicted in 2009 and is now serving a 19 years prison sentence.
Michael Jackson 1958 – 2009
You will be missed
©2008 Barry Shaw Productions
Thank you, Dana and Barry, for this great documentary!
I want to recommend it to everybody and hope to incite a lot of readers to buy it.
Most of the photos used in this post are from the film website or screenshots from the film and so belong also to the filmmakers.
Tom Mesereau also recommended the film in his interview on King Jordan Radio, March 26th, 2014 (at 22:55):
“You know, I did see it. She was kind enough to send it to me and I found it very informative and really appreciated the work she did. Remember, I was in the courtroom during that trial, you know, I didn’t spend much time outside. We would arrive, we would park in a designated area, we would walk into the courtroom, bring our boxes and materials, be in trial all day, and then we would leave and go back to where we were living and where we were preparing for the next day. So I really was not seeing a lot what went on outside. This documentary gave me a lot of information, a lot of insight into what was happening outside the courtroom, who was there and what they were doing, what they were saying, what conflicts there were. I thought it was a very valuable documentary and I thought it was done in a very sensitive, professional way, and I thought that Miss Gedrick did a wonderful job with it. So I am very grateful she sent it to me.”