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Last Updated: Tuesday, 14 June, 2005, 11:11 GMT 12:11 UK
Superstar faces uncertain future
Michael Jackson
Despite his innocence, the trial further damaged Jackson's image
Michael Jackson, who has been found not guilty of child abuse, will nevertheless struggle to regain his crown as the King of Pop.

Despite his innocence, his career, health, and finances hang precariously in the balance.

"I don't think anyone could face 10 charges of the magnitude and seriousness of these over two years, subject to enormous media pressure, and that not affect them," Michael Jackson's former spokesman Stephen Lock told BBC Breakfast.

"But he is still one of the world's great artists and I have no doubt that after a period of recovery and reflection he'll be back on form."

Musician and writer Paul Morley believes he may have the strength of character to make a comeback.

Michael Jackson enters court wearing his pyjamas
Jackson arrived in court one day wearing his pyjamas
"You wouldn't put it past him -- because he has previously had the kind of mental strength to do all sorts of things," Mr Morley told BBC's Newsnight.

"He recovered from being a child star, which is an unusual thing, and made some of the most successful music in the world."

Mr Jackson is already said to be keen on joining the Live 8 line-up for the July 2 event, either in London or Philadelphia, and Live 8 promoter Harvey Goldsmith said he would consider adding him to the bill.

But others are less certain of Jackson's resilience.

"For the purposes of his career - which was on the wane in the US for sometime before these charges came - he needs to disappear for a while and then, perhaps, try to mount a comeback," former US music journalist Jean Rosenbluth told Radio Five Live.

"His style of music is not in sympathy with the current record market," music journalist Paul Gambaccini told BBC Radio 4's Today programme.

'General strangeness'

Michael Jackson's supporters outside court
Jackson's fans were a constant presence outside court
Gareth Grundy, deputy editor of music magazine Q, said it would be "hard but not impossible" for Jackson to restore his music career in the light of the not guilty verdict.

"He didn't really have much of a viable music career before the trial, thanks to 10 years of rumour, innuendo and general strangeness on his part," he said.

"His last album, Invincible, was an expensive folly and left him in a difficult position with his record company, Sony."

Mr Jackson should re-establish himself as a performer by reviving his past hits before recording any new material, Mr Grundy said.

"Young music fans just see him as this really strange guy who was involved in this court case," he said.

He needs to remind people that he was the man who wrote Don't Stop and performed Billie Jean
Gareth Grundy,
Q magazine deputy editor
"Michael Jackson needs to remind people that he was the man who wrote Don't Stop and performed Billie Jean."

Dance routines and moonwalking may be out of the question for an increasingly frail Jackson, but he could be tempted to write songs about his view of the court case.

"A lot of music fans will want to hear his side of the story," said Mr Grundy. "He is still a massive star, but I think any future career depends on how good his songs are, and how expensive it is going to prove.

"He would need the support of a major record label with almost bottomless pockets."

Vegas shows

Some have suggested Mr Jackson should play Las Vegas.

Sir Elton John is being paid a reported 30 million for 75 shows there and Celine Dion signed a similarly lucrative deal before him.

Playing Las Vegas would go a little way towards Jackson's financial worries.

Jackson is not as strapped for cash as people think he is
Randy Taborelli, Michael Jackson's biographer
During the trial prosecutors suggested Mr Jackson was a "spendaholic" with debts of $300m (156m) and accused him of being on the "precipice of bankruptcy".

Forensic accountant John Duross O'Bryan testified the singer had an "ongoing cash crisis", with claims that the star spends like a billionaire on a millionaire's budget.

The singer also now faces massive legal fees, with the possibility that his court ordeal may not be over. It is possible the Arvizo family could try to pursue the singer through the civil courts.

On the other hand, Mr Jackson could sue Martin Bashir and TV company Granada over the documentary which sparked the investigation.

Beatles catalogue

If the claims of bankruptcy were true, Mr Jackson's ownership of his Neverland estate as well as The Beatles' coveted song catalogue would be in jeopardy.

In a 2002 legal action, which was later settled, the star was labelled a "ticking financial timebomb waiting to explode".

Mr Jackson could sell his share of the Beatles catalogue.

He has been trying to get back something that he has lost, but that is very difficult to do
Trauma psychologist Robert Butterworth
He acquired a 50% share in the back catalogue to "virtually all" the Beatles songs in 1985, at the height of his career, worth up to an estimated $1bn (548 million).

"He and Sony are in a duel to the death on the ownership of the Beatles catalogue. This is his most valuable asset, it is the jewel in the crown of popular music," Mr Gambaccini said.

But the singer's biographer said Jackson was unlikely to be in as severe financial difficulty as was painted in court.

"Jackson is not as strapped for cash as people think he is," Randy Taraborrelli told the BBC News website.

"He has money stashed away that people don't even know about."

'Extreme stress'

Mr Jackson's health is also now in the spotlight, having been under pressure since the inquiry into abuse claims began in November 2003.

In the early stages of the trial he was rushed to hospital en route to the Santa Maria court room with what turned out to be influenza. On another occasion he arrived wearing his pyjamas.

Los Angeles-based trauma psychologist Robert Butterworth said all the signs indicated that Jackson was suffering from extreme stress, and described the singer as an "American tragedy".

Michael Jackson and Debbie Rowe
Debbie Rowe told the court that Mr Jackson was a good father
"He had a childhood that was ripped away and a career put in its place," Dr Butterworth said.

"He has been trying to get back something that he has lost, but that is very difficult to do."

The matter of Mr Jackson's three children could also resurface in the coming weeks.

Dr Carole Lieberman, a prominent Beverly Hills psychiatrist and child welfare advocate believes that Debbie Rowe - the mother of Paris and Prince Michael I - will pursue custody of her two children regardless of the court verdict.

Whatever path Mr Jackson takes, Mr Grundy said the destination was impossible to predict.

"If you think of the craziest thing that can possibly happen, something more crazy than that actually will," he said. "This is Michael Jackson we're talking about after all."

BBC Three is running a special programme about Michael Jackson's future on Tuesday evening. Jacko: The Verdict airs at 1915 and 2230 BST.


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Take a look back over Jackson's career to date



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