Louise Brown, a WOW researcher from the London office was in Santa Maria with some other staffers covering the start of the Michael Jackson child-molestation trial. She sent this missive on Tuesday, February 1, but we’ve only just come across it. It’s something to read during this lull in the proceedings.
I got down to the court house just as MJ was arriving and there were only about 100 fans there to greet him. It was a complete change from yesterday’s bedlam. I found Emily and she had said that most of her gang were still in bed after a night’s vigil at Neverland. I got the sense that most fans had needed the lie-in after Monday. Later I found out that there was a big group at Neverland cheering him on as he left the ranch on his way to court.
So the atmosphere at the court was slightly more subdued. I was inside the court grounds when at about 12 noon all the press started getting itchy and setting up to shoot and I found out that Michael was on his way out and that court was adjourned until Monday. There was a bit of a buzz while all the news crews got set up ready to shoot the departure 2 hours before the scheduled time and also reporters started to record items about this unannounced change of schedule. I was in prime position to see MJ leave court, which was exciting. The Sky News team celebrated once he left and started packing up so they could fly home. So did the other crews. I was a bit dazed, it was over so quick.
Apparently, the Judge had his 250 jury candidates and was sending them home with forms to filll out so jury selection can start Monday. One point to make is that he promises court to be adjourned daily at 2.30pm.
So I was about to wander off to lunch when Emily grabbed me and told me she was driving to Neverland and did I want to go. Duh, silly question. So the two of us drove up to Los Olivos. I had a good talk with her on the way. It’s about a half-hour drive through wine country. She’s got some good thoughts about the trial and about MJ; she’s a good person to keep on side.
Up at Neverland nothing much was happening. There were about 100 fans there just waiting for something to happen. That’s apparently what they do, just wait, and wait. The sun was so hot and it was a wierd atmosphere. A lot of “who’s the biggest fan” rivalry, but I think that was mainly the heat and the frustration of the day. The mum and daughter from Brighton were there so I got to talk to them more. And Evelie, the filmmaker fan from NY. So we got to chat a bit more too.
The one thing I will say is that a car is definitely mandatory in these parts. There seems to be no public transport and one taxi firm per town. I was getting itchy stuck up in Never(any excitement)Land so Emily and I drove to Solvang for a drink.
Solvang is fantastic, it’s like toy town, you expect the gingerbread man to run across the road. It’s like a cardboard cut out theme park. When Emily went back to Neverland, I got to walk around and got talking to the owner of the Copenhagan Inn, where the fans are staying and she is good value too. She said that there weren’t as many fans in Solvang this time compared to the arraignment, but she’s already full during March and is expecting more. She’s a good person to talk to.
I had to get a taxi back, which Teri will kill me for but even the driver was interesting. She told me about the time that she collected fans from the court to take them to Neverland and she got invited in with them and she talked about her friends who know Michael and how they
swear he is innocent.
Also the Santa Maria taxi service is basically a husband / wife team and they are brilliant too. They are talking about doing a regular shuttle service between the court, Solvang, and Neverland during the trial. Another example of big business in Santa Maria while the trial is on.
Tomorrow I’m meeting Bob Ranch at the chamber of commerce about getting some of the city officials (police, mayor, etc) involved, so I’m having breakfast with him before getting my flight to LAX.
I walked down to the bowling green today and it really is straight out of a Bush / Cheney promo video, lots of old people whiling their days away on the bowling green / golf course.
Anyway I’m hogging the computer in the lobby and people are starting to huff and puff. I’ll probably get time to email you before I fly home. I’m going to hunt for some veggie food in this beef / bbq / fried chicken / burger town.
– Louise Brown