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Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Sign of the Times--Michael Jackson's final play

Three hundred and fifty million in debt. Maybe more. How do you get that far up the river? Well we know now because everyone including the government is that far up the river. Seems Michael was just like everyone else and died broke and in debt. What is scary is that now even our celebrities seem headed for the poorhouse. Ed McMahon died with his mansion in foreclosure and Farrah Fawcett had resorted to a reality show of her own cancer--filming herself as she died.
How pathetic celebradom has become. No one has the shield against this one. One might even make the case that celebrity is losing it's cache--in an age when your neighbor can pop up on Survivor or on Who Wants To Be A Millionaire then certainly celebrity is not what it used to be. You might become a Youtube star or just a Google star or a Twitter star. The point is there are many many stars in the constellation celebradom and we forget them as soon as we learn their name--what does this really mean--low demand because of market saturation...hmmm sounds like a recession.
Apparently Michael liked to spend. Who can blame him? Don't we all? But unlike us Bank of American was willing to give him two hundred million on a line of credit. We get our credit cards zapped if we forget a payment but celebrity does have it's perks. Michael had to service his rented mansion and make payments on Neverland and pay his entourage and fuel his jets helicopters limousines. Being a celebrity is not cheap.
So when he died he left behind monstrous debt. There was immediate calls for making Neverland into a Graceland but already this has been thrown aside--the neighbors will never put up with it on such prime real estate. Then there is the assertion that the Jackson name will provide for his children. This may be true. There is one certainty and that is the value of death for the artist. We may have a crowded playing field here in celebrity row but there are few willing to risk the great unknown to send their name into mortality row and ensure a long running revenue stream.
So Michael may have played the last card he had. The tour might have bailed him out. Some think it would. But in a time when every field is pushed to capacity--death might be the last frontier for those willing to test the waters. People will probably start faking their deaths once they figure that's a way to make money. But for now, Michael has it too himself.

Books by William Hazelgrove