One of the consequences of Michael Jackson's death is that his family has regained the spotlight, and like a lot of us, Michael has some crazy folk in his family.
Which brings us to LaToya Jackson.
But before we go there, last night's Video Music Awards on MTV opened with a tribute to the King of Pop, with Janet Jackson. (Kanye West: rude jerk. Beyonce: class act.)
It started with Madonna, (at right, in photo courtesy Getty Images) all in black, hair like Samantha Stevens, which is to say very 60s. She talked about how she and MJ had much in common: both born in August 1958, both had eight brothers and sisters, both from the Midwest. She lost a mother, she said, and MJ lost his childhood. She spoke of her own search to fill that void, finding mother figures, and how MJ did the same, but his was a public search, a public yearning for childhood.
She said MJ moved with the elegance of Fred Astaire and the punch of Muhammad Ali. And she called him a hero.
She told the story of how, back in 91, she decided she wanted to get to know MJ, so she called him up and took him out to dinner. In the limo, she asked him to take off his sunglasses and MJ threw them out of his car and said 'Now can you see me." For the rest of the night, she said, she tried to get him to do things he hadn't done before, eat French fries, drink wine and use bad words. They watched a movie and he held her hand, not in romantic move, but in trying to connect with a new friend.
Madonna admitted they lost touch amid, she said, the witch hunt years. She said when she heard that he died, she felt that she, and the rest of us, had abandoned MJ.
On a happier note, she said her two sons are obsessed with MJ now, and there's a lot of moonwalking and crotch grabbing going on in her home. She ended by saying, long live the King.
Next, as MJ's videos for Thriller and Smooth Criminal played, dancers recreated some of his best moves. The last video was "Scream" the song he did with Janet, and so Janet appeared, at one point dancing with her brother's image, the way Natalie Cole sang with her father Nat King Cole. She finished and never said a word. (Janet, btw, looked fierce; thicker than her "Scream" days for sure, but who isn't?)
OK, maybe calling MJ a hero was a bit much, but the simplicity of Madonna, a peer, standing on stage telling a personal anecdote and Janet's silent tribute just seemed a perfect tribute. It simultaneously humanized MJ, while allowing him to remain a singular pop star. The VMAs isn't known for classy, but the tribute was.
Back to LaToya.
It's easy to call her crazy, but what's Barbara Walter's problem? Why did she think this was a newsworthy, or interesting or valuable interview subject?
Walter first tried to convince us that Latoya's importance was 'significant' because she signed MJ's death certificate, was at the hospital when he died, planned the funeral and was the legal guardian of his body. She said MJ and LaToya had a special bond, that when he moved to NY in 1977, she went with him.
This, of course, flies in the face of the fact that LaToya, during her lost years, accused MJ of being a child molester.
LaToya had an explanation for that too. Her ex Jack Gordon made her to all that stuff (the Playboy spreads and movies, the lashing out at family); he abused her. He told her he would kill her and MJ.
She said repeatedly that MJ told her 'they' were trying to kill him. They, she said, were people who would benefit financially from his death. When BW pointed out that that would include the family, Latoya said that while she understood the question, the family's focus right now was on getting the estate out of debt and insuring that MJ's kids got what they needed.
Latoya said she didn't take anything out of MJ's house -- no hard drives, no cash or jewelry.
There was more: MJ, she says, told her Blanket is Hispanic; the kids have been kept away from TV, MJ was buried with a white glove, LaToya has a new single out. MJ and his dad made amends and Joe tried 'every week' to intervene in MJ's drug habit.
The thing is Latoya, wide-eyed, high voice and just kinda dim, just comes across as unhinged. I don't think she's a liar, exactly, just someone acquainted with reality in a different way.
OK, she's crazy.
If you want to see Madonna for yourself, check it out below.