Michael Jackson Could Have Used a 'No' Man

The man survived the experience and lives on still. As I said, this was some years ago, a time before 24-hour cable news and tabloid television, a time before the Internet and its malignant spawn such as TMZ.com and the like. The incident never attracted the attention of the press, an outcome all but unthinkable today. Identifying the man here, even after so many years have passed, would but serve the lurid interests of those who derive satisfaction from seeing the high and mighty brought low and desperate.

But at the time I couldn't help but wonder how all those hired hands could have ignored what must have been obvious to them: that in consuming the types and quantities of medications he was, consumption he apparently made no effort to conceal from them, their employer was at great risk of irreparable harm and even death. The answer, I suppose, can be summed up by paraphrasing screenwriter and author William Goldman, who in Adventures in the Screen Trade, wrote of the differences between mere "actors" and "movie stars." Movie stars are people who, from the moment they wake up in the morning until the moment they go to sleep at night, never once hear a fellow human being utter the word "no."

Michael Jackson's celebrity perhaps eclipsed that of any movie star one could name. One cannot help but suspect that with that very rarest level of celebrity came the flocks of retainers who, so as to maintain their positions within the comforting proximity of the star, were all too willing to acquiesce to any and all bizarre behavior.

Of which prescription drug abuse was apparently far from the worst.

I have no inside knowledge of the Michael Jackson investigation, but I suspect that in the coming days we will learn of certain parallels between his misfortune and that of the man I've described above. No matter how rich or famous one may become, no matter how large one's retinue may grow, it may be wise to seek out and retain at least one person whose sole duty is to now and then stand up and say "no."