NAMES & FACES

Monday, May 29, 2006

Michael Jackson Feels the Love

Jacko's backo! Stepping back into the spotlight after an absence of nearly a year, Michael Jackson accepted MTV Japan's Legend Award and toured a Tokyo orphanage over the weekend.

In his first public appearance since his June 2005 acquittal in California on child molestation charges, the 47-year-old pop star thanked fans at the award ceremony held Saturday at Yoyogi Olympic Stadium. "I'm honored to be in Japan again, and I'm very happy to be among the Japanese people because I love them very much," said Jackson, who has been living in the Middle Eastern kingdom of Bahrain with his three children since the acquittal. "Thank you for your loyalty."

Yesterday Jackson dropped by an orphanage, where he weaved through screaming adult fans en route to a gymnasium packed with dozens of children and nuns in gray uniforms. "I love you," Jackson told a cheering crowd, before whispering to a translator. Then he said: "Aishiteru!"

Jackson is scheduled to tour the country this week before heading to Singapore, Shanghai and Hong Kong. The pop star said he plans to return to recording and hopes to release an album next year.

Namibians' Pride and Joy

Namibians cheered the arrival of Shiloh Nouvel Jolie-Pitt over the weekend with dancing in the streets, a government official said yesterday. Police ringed the Welwitschia Clinic in Walvis Bay with tight security, refusing to admit journalists and photographers for the baby's birth on Saturday, the Associated Press reports.

Samuel Nuuyoma , the governor of the Erongo province, where parents Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt are staying, described the scene to Us Weekly: "I have been inundated with phone calls from Namibians all over the country who heard the news and the people are celebrating in the streets, and special prayers have gone out to them in churches. On behalf of the Erongo region, it is an honor and privilege for us to have had Angelina in our land at this special time. . . . Just like Angelina, this precious Namibian-born baby will be our ambassador. This family has opened the doors for us to the world, who now look upon Namibia with new eyes."

Just remember to keep away from the baby.

Oprah to Ice Cube: A Cold Shoulder?

Joining 50 Cent and Ludacris , rapper-actor Ice Cube has declared his dissatisfaction with Oprah Winfrey .

In the July issue of FHM magazine, Cube questions why he's been passed up for appearances on the top-rated daytime talk show and wonders if Winfrey has "a problem with hip-hop."

"I've been involved in three projects pitched to her, but I've never been asked to participate," the 36-year-old rapper, born O'Shea Jackson, tells the men's mag. "For 'Barbershop' she had Cedric the Entertainer and Eve on, but I wasn't invited. Maybe she's got a problem with hip-hop."

Cube adds that she's had "rapists, child molesters and lying authors on her show. And if I'm not a rags-to-riches story for her, who is?"

Last month, 50 Cent, ne Curtis Jackson, complained that Winfrey "caters to old white women." Ludacris , aka Chris Bridges, meanwhile told GQ magazine that Winfrey was "unfair" to him during his appearance on her show last October.

A spokesman for Winfrey's production company, Harpo, told the Associated Press Friday that Winfrey would not respond directly to Ice Cube's comments.

Winfrey did respond to charges she has an anti-hip-hop bias on a New York radio show earlier this month, telling DJ Ed Lover : "I listen to some hip-hop. You know, I've been accused of not liking hip-hop, and that's just not true. I got a little Fifty on my iPod. I really do. Love 'In Da Club.' . . . Love that, and you know, love Jay-Z , love Kanye , love Mary J. "

-- Compiled by Christian Hettinger from Web and wire reports


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