Pop Culture

Harry Belafonte takes Michael Jackson's side

Michael Jackson has picked up a vocal defender.

Calypso singer and civil-rights promoter Harry Belafonte was in Nairobi when he spoke out praising Jackson, saying that “no single individual has had influence in the world” like the embattled pop star, who is facing child molestation charges.

“Michael Jackson is innocent until proven guilty by the court of law,” Belafonte told Agence France while working on behalf of UN Children’s Fund in Nairobi.

Wyatt Counts / AP
** FILE ** Singer Harry Belafonte smiles following an interview in New York in this Oct. 16, 1995 photo. New York Fashion Week opens Friday, Feb. 6, 2004 and Liza Minnelli, Harry Belafonte and Michelle Williams of Destiny's Child were expected to be in front-row seats at Kenneth Cole's runway show, the first presentation on the eight-day schedule.(AP Photo/Wyatt Counts, File)

“I cannot charge my colleague on the basis of media reports and television programs.”

Belafonte also lashed out at American news organizations’ “insatiable appetite” for the Jackson scandal.

“This is [a] travesty of journalism,” he said. “It is inappropriate for the media to start asking what ifs and what abouts [about Jackson]. What about the children who suffered in Iraq?”Bedding down at Harvard
Will Harvard students get naked for a cause?

A professor who teaches a controversial class on activism has invited animal-rights advocate PETA to lecture more 500 students in the hallowed halls of the prestigious university. The lecturer tells The Scoop he plans to invite the students to strip and get in bed with each other for a giant nude “bed in” in Harvard Square, under the banner “Fur: Out, Love: In.”

“We’re trying to put together the biggest bed possible,” PETA spokesman Dan Mathews tells The Scoop. “There’s been tremendous interest from students in joining us in this. We may also do an ‘I’d Rather Go Naked Than Wear Fur’ ad with Harvard students. Who knows? We might do an entire Harvard campaign.”

Professor Brian Palmer, who teaches the course Globalization and Human Values: Envisioning World Community, explains: “I feel he’s providing a valuable model of engagement for our students.” But a source tells The Scoop that the professor also cautioned students against getting arrested, as PETA protestors often are. “He’s saying ‘We don’t want you to be in jail when you should be in class.’ ”

Notes from all over

Kevin Winter / Getty Images North America
LOS ANGELES - FEBRUARY 11: Actress Meg Ryan arrives at the premiere of "Against the Ropes" at the Chinese Theater on February 11, 2004 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Meg Ryan

Meg Ryan showed her tough side when she sat down for an interview with Jane magazine recently. The “Against the Ropes” star lashed out at the reporter after being asked questions about her personal life. “What are you reading? The internet? Is there some change in journalism?” At another point, she asked. “I’m not at all interested in talking about my personal life — not at all interested in stuff like ‘what if’ questions. It doesn’t advance anything.” . . . Missy Elliott brought so much luggage to the Brits — the Grammys of the UK — that half of her 12-member crew reportedly had to sit in the hall because there wasn’t enough room for them in her dressing room.  . . . It looks like Madonna is going on tour again. Audition calls have been appearing for backup dancers, to begin rehearsing in March for a May tour. “Looking for individuals, strong & versatile dancers. Choreography will be unpredictable ... anything goes!” reads one. “Dancers should be prepared with everything from knee pads to different shoes ... costume changes optional! Looking to see anything from acrobatics, breaking, popping, locking to ballet, reeling, river dancing & tang. *Dancers MUST be willing to cut or change hair drastically.”

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