There's nothing weird about Michael, OK?


February 12, 1993|By MIKE LITTWIN

Let's cut right to the chase. Past Michael's skin color. Past the virgin question. Past even the slave-to-the-rhythm rationale for crotch-grabbing, although we definitely have to get back to that one.

First, we have to get to the Liz quote, which, if not exactly Churchillian, will still grab you by the throat and shake you till your teeth rattle.

Maybe you saw it. Heck, everyone saw it. Oprah's got Michael for 90 minutes in the celebrity interview of the year, just the two of them, and maybe about 300 million viewers.

And Liz.

She's there to do some off-camera hand-holding in case Oprah gets rough on her friend Michael. And, in fact, there was once an entire four-minute period -- if you include two minutes for a commercial break -- during which Oprah failed to call Michael "incredible." Incredible.

Anyway, Liz is eventually coaxed in front of the camera where, while seemingly coherent, she calls Michael the "least weird man" she's ever known.

One friend who didn't see the show read the quote and figured it was a misprint. He's thinking Liz must have said the "last weird man," which, you have to agree, makes more sense.

At first, I thought I must have heard it wrong. I was afraid I might have fallen under the spell of Liz's mesmerizing eyes. They're uniquely violet, you know. And they make men crazy.

Or they make men marry her, anyway. You don't think Larry Fortensky was in it only for the money, do you?

Mesmerized or not, I did hear her say least weird, which is the most weird thing possibly ever on TV. That includes the "Geraldo" show on women who date their dead husbands' morticians. During the funeral.

The quote probably says more about Liz than it does Michael. If Michael actually is the least weird man she's ever known, that would explain why she has been married -- this is the latest count and doesn't include the fourth quarter of 1992 -- at least 47 times.

What a couple, huh? How'd they become friends? That was a question Oprah asked. Liz said it was because they had so much in common as child stars whose fathers had abused them. I'm guessing they met at a child star/abusive father support group. It could have been worse. He could have hooked up with Roseanne.

Any couple that includes Michael Jackson seems at least a bit odd. Michael told Oprah he's dating Brooke Shields (and he didn't wink). They probably got together at a child-star, support-group mixer, Shields belonging to the child star/pushy mother branch.

What is it with this guy? He doesn't look normal. His friends don't seem particularly normal. He grew up as part of what must qualify as the dysfunctional poster family.

No wonder he's, well, who he is, whatever that is. And no wonder millions tuned in to figure out what that might be.

Here's his side of the story:

* Michael said he has not bleached himself. His skin has turned white, he says, because of an inherited skin disorder (and maybe about 4 pounds of Lancome foundation). He wouldn't say which disease. And he wouldn't say what the Clorox bottle was doing in his dressing room. Anyway, he says it's a disease, I believe him, and we can stop the jokes white now.

* Oprah asked him if he were a virgin. Michael wouldn't answer, hoping we understand his belief in "old-fashioned" values. Yep. I look at Michael Jackson and I'm thinking old-fashioned. Absolutely.

* He says he didn't sleep in a chamber to try to stay young. He didn't buy the Elephant Man's remains. He did undergo a little plastic surgery, but who doesn't in L.A.? Bus drivers do that dimple-in-the-chin bit in LaLa-land.

* Oh, and the crotch-grabbing. You see, it's not his fault. He doesn't even know he's doing it. He simply follows the music, and wherever it takes him, that's where he goes, even if it's where folks with old-fashioned values rarely venture in public.

This has me worried, because, as John Sebastian once made clear, the magic's in the music and the music's in me. Meaning, what if I'm hearing a Michael Jackson song while I'm, let's say, walking down the street and, becoming slave to the rhythm, I, well, subconsciously grab?

You know what happens. I get arrested, right?

Before I know it, I'm on Oprah. The theme: Men who think life is a music video but won't wear the required makeup.

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