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EDITIONS
Wednesday, 12 February, 2003, 11:21 GMT
Mixed US reaction to Jackson interview
Michael Jackson
Jackson has complained to TV watchdogs in the UK
Michael Jackson's US fans have reacted with a mixture of dismay and pity to the singer's controversial ITV interview with British journalist Martin Bashir.

Michael Jackson
Jackson spent eight months with Martin Bashir
The programme, Living With Michael Jackson, in which he reveals intimate details about his private life, was broadcast on US TV on Thursday night.

In particular, Jackson - who was once accused and cleared of child abuse - told Bashir that he shared his bedroom with children.

In interviews with David Willis for BBC One's Breakfast programme, fans of Jackson said they did not know whether to find him dangerous or deluded.

"It was shocking, from the crazy Neverland Ranch to the child in the 44 year-old body," said one fan.

Another said: "I feel a bit sad, I have some sympathy for him. It sounds like he had a very bad childhood."

One viewer added: "As a musician, I love him, he is great. But as a parent, I would not trust him with my children."

'Not a crime'

US TV is thought to have paid about 3m ($5m) for the documentary, which was first shown on ITV1 in the UK on Monday night to an estimated 14 million viewers.

The programme is made up of a broad series of interviews by Bashir, who spent eight months with the star.

Michael Jackson in 1972
The singer told Bashir he was taunted as a child about his nose
He tracked his movements, meeting his children and even going shopping with the star.

But Jackson has been widely criticised since revealing on the programme that a 12-year-old boy regularly stayed at his mansion and slept in his bed.

American tabloid TV shows have given extensive coverage to the documentary.

Some US newspapers have defended Jackson and criticised Bashir for his treatment of the singer.

But prosecutors in California - the location of Jackson's 3,000 acres Neverland Ranch - said the superstar would not face a new probe into allegations of child abuse.

Santa Barbara County District Attorney Thomas Sneddon said that under the state's law sleeping with a child without "affirmative, offensive conduct" was not a criminal offence.

"Sleeping in bed with a kid is not a crime that I know of," Mr Sneddon told the Santa Barbara News-Press.

He added that police would require co-operation from a victim if any charges were to be brought.

New probe calls

Earlier, Gloria Allred, the lawyer, who represented a 13-year-old boy who claimed he had been abused by Jackson almost a decade ago, said she wanted the investigation reopened.

Martin Bashir
Bashir was "chasing ratings", Jackson claims

Jackson denied the charges, which were eventually suspended after a private settlement.

And a US child protection charity also called for the star to be investigated, saying state authorities should interview the children.

Gloria Gruber, the charity's president, said: "The fact that he sleeps with children who are unrelated to him is definitely a red flag and concern.

"We did actually request the district attorney to launch an investigation and to interview children as well as parents of children who do allow Michael to sleep over and we feel that's totally inappropriate."

On Thursday, officials in Santa Barbara said they were taking Jackson's revelations seriously.

Hotline number

In a statement, local prosecutors said Jackson's revelations were "unusual" but not illegal and that it would take a complaint by a victim to prompt a criminal investigation.

The statement also said the sheriff's department would be reviewing the programme.

It also gave a hotline number for people to call if they believed they had evidence against the singer.

Meanwhile, Jackson has complained to television watchdogs in the UK about the documentary which he claims "utterly betrayed" him.

'Innuendo'

The singer's lawyers have written to the Independent Television Commission and the Broadcasting Standards Commission, saying he was "unfairly treated".

Jackson's legal team also claimed the programme was an infringement of his privacy.

The complaint to the ITC alleged the documentary "contains the clear innuendo that Mr Jackson is guilty of inappropriate behaviour with children".

And in the letter to the BSC, Jackson said he was not warned Bashir's would interview him about an allegation of child molestation made in 1993, or link that to his current friendship with a 12-year-old boy.

Jackson also said the programme included film taken of his children "contrary to my express consent".

But Granada Television, which made the programme, has denied this.

The documentary, made for the UK's ITV1 network, has also been screened in the Netherlands and Australia.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
David Willis reports from LA
"The sherrif's department was amongst the viewers"
Jonathon Margolis, Michael Jackson's friend
"He is in need of some psychiatric help"
 VOTE RESULTS
Was Michael Jackson betrayed?

Yes
 44.32% 

No
 55.68% 

25007 Votes Cast

Results are indicative and may not reflect public opinion


Users in the US are invited to send their views on the controversial Michael Jackson interviewsJackson views
US verdict on Living with Michael Jackson
See also:

04 Feb 03 | Entertainment
06 Feb 03 | Entertainment
06 Feb 03 | Entertainment
05 Feb 03 | Entertainment
05 Feb 03 | England
04 Feb 03 | Entertainment
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