KURT: Singer Michael Jackson actually set foot on a U.S. concert stage last weekend, playing two shows in Hawaii. It was the usual great big deal, and drew die-hard fans from the mainland, as well. Here's the story.
FAN #1: My sister and I grew up with the music, and this is my daughter... (voice begins to crack with sobs) and we love him, and we're very happy that he's in Hawaii.
FAN #2: We feel priviledged as the Hawaiian people as the local people... and he has so much "aloha."
MTV: The purported King of Pop's first U.S. performance since 1989 brought the traditional tzunami of media madness to the fiftieth state, along with the kind of glitter-encrusted excess the 80s did so well. The K.O.P. himself surfed to the show via mini-van, and checked out the island through tinted windows only. A local impersonator -- or decoy -- was more than happy to mingle on behalf of his idol.
MICHAEL JACKSON IMPERSONATOR: I am very excited to see this tour, because
to me, I feel like Michael Jackson's show is the greatest show on Earth.
MTV: The show was Jackson's straight-out-of-Neverland circus: a two hour plus extravaganza, featuring hits like "Billy Jean" and "Thriller", plus a Jackson 5 medley that's old to enough to vote by now -- all of this served up by a full on crew.
CREWMAN #1: There are camera people, lighting people, sound people, wardrobe, make-up, costumes.
CREWMAN #2: There are costume changes every song. It never gets old. The only time it got somewhat old was when Hammer was at his peak. But when Hammer died, Michael Jackson was back on top.
MTV: Do you think that most people who were here are die hard fans, or do you think that most people are here for the spectacle of it?
FAN #6: I think that most people were here for the spectacle of it, because the die hard fans... you could probably tell, because I was crying for four songs straight, and I couldn't stop, and I was shaking...
FAN #4: Whether you hate him -- you'll go to see his show, and you'll love him You'll see the real man -- not what the tabloids make up -- you'll see the real Michael.
KURT: While Michael Jackson's star appears to be descending somewhat in this country, he's still a big draw overseas, especially in some of the provincial backwaters he's been playing lately. At home, though, where a never-resolved child-molesting case against him has soured many observers, his career is in trouble.
In an unusually blunt article in the "New York Times" on Monday, music critic Jon Pareles pointed out, among other things, that Jackson's U.S. record sales have steadily declined since he peaked in 1982 with "Thriller."
In response to the ongoing press barrage, Jackson's handlers on Tuesday issued a press release bewailing what they called untrue reports that Jackson's new wife, his former dermatology nurse, was artificially inseminated, and is carrying his baby as part of a six-figure
business deal. Not true, they say, not true at all.