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Falling Idols 

Michael Jackson follows his nose

What is it about being an American Idol that turns the most talented among us into freaks, addicts, or worst of all, has-beens? Before you think I'm talking about Justin Guarini, the Fox TV show runner-up, think again. I'm talking about an actual American Idol, the disintegrating "King of Pop," Michael Jackson. Smell the Elvis in the wind?

Where tabloid media is concerned, JacWhat is it about being an American Idol that turns the most talented among us into freaks, addicts, or worst of all, has-beens? Before you think I'm talking about Justin Guarini, the Fox TV show runner-up, think again. I'm talking about an actual American Idol, the disintegrating "King of Pop," Michael Jackson. Smell the Elvis in the wind?

Where tabloid media is concerned, Jackson has become an all-you-can devour buffet of bad news. "Wacko Jacko," as the Brits dubbed him, is a great seller for the National Enquirer and the Globe.

The funny thing is that some of the media outlets and TV networks that sent him to the music throne in the 80s now ignore him, or at least are wishing they had. His bizarre physical appearance and apparent disconnect from the real world keep him off the covers of Rolling Stone and Time, and he's certainly no longer "the thing" on MTV or VH1.

There was the marriage and divorce from Lisa Marie Presley. Then, the child molestation payout and silence. Lately, there was his Sony Music protest, where the rather pale singer railed against racism in the music business. We learned of the porno connection to a producer of his self-created tribute concert. He accepted a non- existent award from MTV on the air, to everyone's embarrassment and his cluelessness. Then, his third child, Prince, emerges -- from what or whom we don't know -- named after his older brother, Prince. That's the kid Jackson was dangling over a balcony last week in Germany -- you know, the one his Daddy, the Prince of Lightness, had covered with a towel.

The capper, though, the thing that has me seeing visions of Elvis on the bathroom floor, are the stories and photos from the trial where Jackson's being sued for $20 million for breach of contract. The court proceedings are secondary to the amazing photo of the latest incarnation of his nose, which appeared to have changed once again, and was seen only after the judge ordered him to remove his surgical mask.

"He is almost a fantasy figure or a cartoon character," said Dr. Edward Domanskis, a California plastic surgeon. "At the age of 43, people don't act or look that way," he added. He guessed that Jackson has had at least five nose jobs and "There had to be some complications along the way."

Where does the media love for an Idol begin and end? It is with sky-high record sales that then wane, along with popularity among young record-buyers? Or does a wacko Jacko make for more readers or viewers, though not necessarily better, news?

MerleFest, the Wilkesboro music festival that's become a national treasure for bluegrass and Americana music lovers, will become a television program next year.

Charlotte's Edge Marketing, which produces made-for-TV music and event specials, will shoot on location at the festival and air it at a later date as a syndicated program. With the growing popularity of bluegrass, "we believe there is an exceptionally strong market for a televised version of this festival," says Edge Marketing head Mike Burg.

MerleFest managing director Jim Barrow agrees, saying, "As we near capacity for crowds on the Wilkes Community College campus, it's vital we use technology to make MerleFest available to folks in their automobiles and homes." The 2002 festival was broadcast on satellite radio.

The 2003 festival is scheduled for April 24-27, and boasts a stellar bill of performers, including Ralph Stanley, Emmylou Harris, and Ricky Skaggs, among many others.

You haven't even shoved the turkey into the oven when holiday Muzak starts playing in stores and TV commercials are bugging you to get your Christmas shopping started. In that spirit, here's a tip-off to pop a tape in the VCR and get some holiday shows in the can. UNC-TV is programming December 7 and 8 as its "Holiday Extravaganza," with shows airing each day from 7am to 11pm. You'll get the kids covered with Elmo, Barney and Veggie Tales holiday shows. For older folks, there'll be music, cooking, and travel specials, including a Christmas look at Biltmore. For the full schedule, check out www.unctv.org.

On the local radio front, WDAV 89.9 continues their tradition of holiday music by broadcasting over 25 specials between now and New Years Day. You can find the full schedule on their website, www.wdav.org.

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