Michael Jackson told a California court yesterday (Dec. 4) that, like Walt Disney, he had been blessed by God with a gift for creating family entertainment, but found himself lacking business skills.

Michael Jackson told a California court yesterday (Dec. 4) that, like Walt Disney, he had been blessed by God with a gift for creating family entertainment, but found himself lacking business skills. Jackson, testifying in a $21 million lawsuit over canceled millennium concerts, explained that he relied on managers, agents, lawyers, and accountants to handle the details of his business affairs while he focused on singing and dancing.

"I'm a visionary and a creative person," the 44-year-old entertainer said in response to questions from his attorney, Zia Modabber, adding that he was not good at working with complex legal documents or numbers. "God blessed me with certain talents," Jackson said. "I hate to use an analogy, but Walt Disney was creative but not good with business. His brother Roy handled the books."

Later an attorney for Marcel Avram, the German promoter who is suing him for breach of contract over the aborted shows, asked Jackson to elaborate. "Walt Disney was a very creative man and a visionary," Jackson said. "He loved creating family-oriented entertainment and so do I. I feel that was a gift and I have that gift also. I'm very honored to have been chosen."

Jackson, whose bizarre appearance and baby-dangling antics have made headlines around the world for the past three weeks, arrived at the courthouse in Santa Maria, about 160 miles north of Los Angeles, still apparently suffering from a spider bite that he said caused his foot to swell painfully.

Though dressed in a dark suit and tie and made up with lipstick and rouge, he was missing one shoe and hobbled into court on crutches, assisted by a member of his security team. The entertainer said he was bitten on the foot by a small spider that had been lurking in the scrub brush at his Neverland Valley Ranch, about 30 miles from Santa Maria.

Avram claims in his lawsuit that Jackson agreed to perform charity shows in Seoul and Munich in 1999 and millennium concerts in Sydney and Honolulu -- hopping the international dateline to ring in the new year twice. But after Jackson performed the two shows for charity, Avram claims, the self-styled King of Pop backed out of the for-profit millennium events, costing the promoter millions of dollars.

Jackson denied pulling out of the millennium shows and said Avram canceled them because "the government" would not allow them to fly across the international dateline on New Year's Eve. The singer said he did not remember which government objected to the flight.

Jackson's lawyers showed jurors a videotape of the entertainer performing the song "You Are Not Alone" at the Seoul charity concert. The entertainer watched the tape closely, at one point snickering at his own image. Jackson, who has been greeted each day at the courthouse by dozens of screaming fans, was expected to complete his testimony in the case today.


COPYRIGHT: (c) Reuters 2002. All rights reserved. Republication or redistribution of Reuters content, including by caching, framing or similar means, is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of Reuters. Reuters and the Reuters sphere logo are registered trademarks and trademarks of the Reuters group of companies around the world.

Questions? Comments? Let us know: @billboard

Print