Arab Idol Mohammed Assaf, left, kisses Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas as he hands him a diplomatic Palestinian Authority passport during their meeting in the West Bank city of Ramallah, Monday, July 1, 2013. Assaf, the 23-year-old from the Gaza Strip who won the popular pan-Arab song contest last month, met Abbas on Monday before performing in Ramallah. (AP Photo/Mohamad Torokman, Pool)
She takes two buses to get to the courthouse each day and depends on donations from fans to run her website. She has no formal training as a journalist but for tens of thousands — maybe multitudes more — she is the oracle for all things Michael.
Inside the Los Angeles courtroom each weekday, Taaj Malik furiously taps away at her iPad as the Michael Jackson wrongful-death case unfolds, taking notes for a transcript she will later post on a website crammed with court documents, autopsy reports, salutes to Jackson and an occasional plea for money. With nearly 40,000 following her “Team Michael Jackson” Twitter account, the 52-year-old Malik blasts out tweets during breaks and keeps up a running dialogue with followers.
“What a pair of MUPPETS,” she snaps after two ranking music executives testify.
The wrongful-death trial is playing out in a courtroom with seats for only a handful of observers selected each morning via lottery. Most days the few available slots go quickly and Malik — along with much of the print and television media — is herded off to watch on a closed-circuit feed.
There is no televised coverage of the trial, so fans are left to search for what details they can find on Twitter, Facebook and — if they must — the mainstream media. Jackson fan forums and websites have been in full gear since the trial began two months ago. Some see Malik as a fan obsessed, but her mother, she said, knows differently. “She knows I’m all about the truth.”
Suits against Elmo puppeteer tossed
Three lawsuits brought by men who said a former Elmo puppeteer sexually abused them when they were underage were tossed out by a judge who said in a decision published Monday that the men waited too long to sue. U.S. District Judge John G. Koeltl said the claims must be barred because they came more than six years after each man reasonably should have become aware of Kevin Clash’s alleged violations and more than three years after each turned 18. Clash says through a lawyer that he’s pleased about the ruling and looks forward to the day when he tells his story free of innuendo and false claims. But lawyers for three men who filed lawsuits say Clash hasn’t heard the last from them.
sandman’s back: The Sandman is returning to Vertigo comics under the influence of writer Neil Gaiman. Shelly Bond, executive editor of the imprint of DC Entertainment, said Monday that Gaiman is working with artist J.H. Williams III to tell stories of Morpheus’ world before he was captured. Titled “The Sandman: Overture,” the new series will appear bi-monthly starting Oct. 30 in comic shops and digitally, too.
rehab: Farrah Abraham is taking a time out in a rehab facility. The MTV Teen Mom and sex tape star, 22, says she’s checking into an outpatient facility in Florida to deal with alcohol abuse.