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Michael Jackson's Final Moments; What Now For Jackson Kids?

Aired June 26, 2009 - 22:00   ET


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Larry, tonight, breaking news -- new and disturbing facts are coming to light about Michael Jackson's death.

Today, we have seen a barrage of tough news, 911 tapes released, attention focused on his doctor hired by his concert promoter, also initial word from the autopsy, growing reports from people who knew him that the king of pop was in a world of pain and had been for years. The questions tonight, what was he taking for it? Was he addicted? And what role, if any, it played in his death.

We will tell you what we know tonight -- no speculation, only the facts, starting with this from Ted Rowlands.


TED ROWLANDS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): If Thursday was about shock and sadness, Friday was about questions. How and why did Michael Jackson die?

The initial autopsy was completed today, but it may take weeks to know the cause of death. However, the medical examiner's office did release one finding, that Michael Jackson was using prescription drugs at the time of his death, and:

CRAIG HARVEY, OPERATIONS CHIEF, LOS ANGELES COUNTY DEPARTMENT OF CORONER: There was no indication of any external trauma or any indication of foul play on the body of Mr. Jackson.

ROWLANDS: Jackson went into cardiac arrest yesterday, and, from inside the bedroom, details of the frantic, desperate effort to revive him were revealed today in the call to 911.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sir, oh, I have a -- we have a gentleman here that needs help and he's not breathing. He's not breathing, and we need to -- we're trying to pump him, but he's not...


911 OPERATOR: OK, OK. How old is he?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's 50 years old, sir.

911 OPERATOR: Fifty? OK. He's unconscious? He's not breathing?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, he's not breathing, sir. ROWLANDS: The voice on the call says there was one person with Jackson when he stopped breathing.

911 OPERATOR: Did anybody witness what happened?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, just the doctor, sir. The doctor's been the only one here.

911 OPERATOR: OK, so did the doctor see what happened?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Doctor, did you see what happened, sir?

ROWLANDS: Jackson's personal physician has been identified as Dr. Conrad Murray, a cardiologist who works in Houston and Las Vegas and who is licensed to practice medicine in California.

A source close to the family says Murray had spent much of the last two months with Jackson as he prepared for his upcoming concert series. Last night, police towed the car he was driving away from Jackson's rented mansion. Officials say it may contain -- quote -- "medications pertinent to the investigation." The doctor is said to be cooperating with officials.

Did drugs contribute to Jackson's death? Today, former family attorney Brian Oxman offered his chilling opinion.

BRIAN OXMAN, FORMER JACKSON FAMILY ATTORNEY: He had overmedication, and it was a serious problem. And the exact people who were doing this, I'm not going to point any fingers. All I know is that I had warned that this was a problem. And this is my worst fear. It is -- it is a nightmare.


COOPER: Tough words.

Ted, you were at -- you're -- you're at the coroner's office. Is -- is Michael Jackson still at the coroner's office?

ROWLANDS: Yes, Anderson, the body is still here in the possession of the coroner's.

However, it is available for release to the family. The family is still finalizing arrangements as to the mortuary that will take the body.

The coroner's, however, is finished with the autopsy -- autopsy -- and finished with the body. Again, the most important information that they are waiting on is those toxicology reports. They say that they expect them in about four weeks.

Ted, from listening to those 911 recordings, is it your understanding, because I think this is the way I interpret this, that -- that he -- the 911 operator was told that Michael Jackson was being given -- or they were attempting to revive him by doing chest compressions while he was still lying on a bed. Is that your understanding?

ROWLANDS: Well, that's what the caller told the 911 operator when the operator asked, where is this -- where is he? Where is he, the patient? And he said, he's on a bed. And, right away, you could hear the operator say, get him on the floor. Get him on the floor.

Now, whether or not...


COOPER: Right, because you're not supposed to do chest compressions on a soft surface. It has -- there has to be a wooden board or a hard floor beneath the -- the person.

ROWLANDS: Obviously. And that's what the 911 operator wanted to make sure.

Now, it could have been a panicked individual on the phone who may have just said bed and it may -- it may -- it may have been a surface that was hard. We don't know. We do know that this doctor was with him. And, obviously, you could feel the tension and -- and hear him in the background performing what he was hoping would be life-saving techniques on Jackson at the time.

COOPER: All right, Ted Rowlands.

Ted, appreciate it.

You heard Brian Oxman's take in Ted's report. It was echoed and amplified today by longtime Jackson friend Dr. Deepak Chopra, who spoke earlier with Wolf Blitzer. Listen to what he has to say.


DEEPAK CHOPRA, AUTHOR, "THE BOOK OF SECRETS": OK. So, after the trial in 2005, Michael came and spent a week with me. He stayed at my house. He came to our center. And, at one point, he suddenly asked me for a prescription. He knew I was a physician. I had a -- a (INAUDIBLE) license.

And he asked me for a prescription for a narcotic. And I said, "What the heck do you want a narcotic prescription for?"

And it suddenly dawned on me that he was already taking these, and that he had probably a number of doctors who were giving him these prescriptions. So, I confronted him with that. And, at first, he denied it. Then, he said he was in a lot of pain. He said he had back pain.

I knew all the pain was muscle aches and pains and musculoskeletal pains from the stress that he was going through.

I said: "Michael, you don't need these drugs for that. There are so many ways to do it." And, for a while, I lost him. You know, I have had that happen with many with other celebrities in Hollywood. There's a plethora of doctors in Hollywood, they are drug-peddlers, Wolf. They are drug- pushers. They just happen to be having a medical license.

And I hope that this episode today, this tragic death of a great human being, will bring to light the huge problem we have in Hollywood with some of the medical establishment, the celebrity doctors who not only initiate people into the drug experience, but then they perpetuate it, so that the -- the people become dependent on them.

I will be bold enough to identify these people at a certain time, but I think the police should do their own investigation. And I think this is something that really should be investigated, because it's a disease.

The number-one cause of drug addiction in the world, and particularly in the -- the United States, is not street drugs, but medical prescriptions given legally by physicians.

BLITZER: Do you know what drugs he was taking, specifically?

CHOPRA: Well, at one time, I knew about OxyContin. I knew that he would get injections of Demerol and other narcotics. And I was really desperate to try and help him.


COOPER: Deepak Chopra today talking with Wolf Blitzer.

Toxicology reports from the coroner's office, as you heard, are going to take several weeks. Until then, there's going to be a lot of speculation. There's already plenty of rumors. Tonight, we're reporting only the facts that are known.

360 M.D. Dr. Sanjay Gupta joins us. He's both a neurosurgeon and a certified medical examiner, also addiction medicine specialist Dr. Drew Pinsky.

COOPER: Sanjay, we just heard Deepak Chopra saying that he knows Michael Jackson was using Demerol and OxyContin. And he was referring at least back to 2005. Could those drugs have killed him or played some role?

COOPER: Well, you know, a lot of drugs can -- can, at certain doses, if they get toxic or high enough, can cause death in different ways.

For example, the -- the medications that Dr. Chopra was referring to are what are called respiratory depressants. So, they -- they make you stop breathing or -- or slow your breathing down so much so, that you're really not getting enough air or specifically oxygen to your blood. And that -- that lack of oxygen in the blood can affect your heart and ultimately your brain.

And that's one way that these drugs can cause sudden cardiac arrest.

COOPER: Why would someone be getting injections of Demerol, at the same time that they're taking OxyContin?


You know, I mean, one thing you -- you can say about most of these opioids, these -- these types of medications, is that some people could develop tolerance to them. So, what may have worked a year ago won't work as well now, and -- and so on.

So, that's why you start increasing doses, as well as different types of medications. But it's very hard for me to speculate as to why injections of Demerol and OxyContin.

COOPER: Dr. Drew, how easy is it in Los Angeles for a celebrity to basically find a doctor to give you him whatever he wants. I mean, you heard Dr. -- Dr. Deepak Chopra calling these M.D.s drug-pushers.


I think I -- I spoke -- Dr. Chopra and I were in the green room just before he went on that show. And I think I whipped him into a frenzy there. But we do agree precisely on this point, that there is profound overuse of opioid medication, that there are physicians that feel gratified by being able to take care of celebrity.

And I think, although well-meaning sometimes, they end up stringing these people out and unknowingly getting them addicted. Look, this is a very serious tragedy. But I agree with absolutely everything that's been -- been said so far.

This is how my patients died. It looks like a rose, it smells like a rose. All my patients when they go through the experiences end up with chronic pain. They end up receiving meds from multiple doctors, and they end up dead. That's how it works in the addiction world right now.


COOPER: I want both you to hold on a second. We're going to have more with Dr. Drew and Dr. Gupta in just a moment.

We have been getting just thousands of comments through the last 24 hours on the blog at and also to our show page. You can join the conversation, the live chat, happening right now at AC360 --

Also ahead tonight, the stars speak out -- Bette Midler's affectionate fare well, also ex-wifeless Lisa Marie Presley's stunning revelation, what Michael Jackson told her years ago, a chilling prediction of a day like this to come.

And, later, Michael Jackson's role as a racial trailblazer, the first African-American star on MTV. He broke a lot of barriers.

A lot more ahead, as we look into the death and look back on the remarkable life of Michael Jackson.

We will be right back.



COOPER: Dame Elizabeth Taylor saying, her heart, her mind are broken, a longtime friend.

We're back with Dr. Sanjay Gupta and Dr. Drew Pinsky.

Dr. Drew, you know, it's interesting. We're now hearing from people, Brian Oxman, family -- Jackson family spokesman, who says, you know, point-blank, he was overmedicated. And you hear from Dr. Deepak -- Deepak Chopra saying, Jackson approached him about getting a prescription back in 2005.

I talked to someone who was close to Jackson for a time in the legal realm who said -- wouldn't say it publicly, but said, you know, sometimes, when you talked to him, he just seemed stoned.

Why couldn't anyone help him, then?

PINSKY: Well, I think there are two major issues here. If -- if this -- all our speculation is correct that, A -- the patient has to want to get better, number one. Even -- even when they really want to get better, it's very hard to get them better.

And, number two, one of the most divisive issues in medicine right now is how to manage chronic pain. There are doctors and camps out there that would say, gee, the problem with Michael Jackson is, he's not getting enough pain medication. How dare we let him suffer? He says he's in pain. Who are we to say he's not? Give him more.

And there's a whole philosophy that that is what should be done. So, yes, that patient would look intoxicated, certainly not in my camp. I believe he should have been -- look, the outcome couldn't have been any worse than what we have ended up with here. Let's put it that way.

And, unfortunately I'm hoping that this -- this really treasure in our country, the loss, that we can at least shine a light on the problem of prescription medication abuse and addiction in our country, which is massive, just as Deepak Chopra said earlier.

COOPER: Well, Sanjay, it's interesting, because Deepak Chopra was saying that -- that it became clear to him that Michael Jackson was sort of doctor shopping, had a number of doctors who he was getting prescriptions from, that Chopra was just one of the doctors he hit up for it.

Is there a system in place to track if somebody is doctor- shopping?

GUPTA: It can be very hard to do. And I run into this all the time. And, Dr. Drew, I imagine does well.

You get a patient that shows up at your office and asks for pain medications. In order to try and figure out if they're getting pain medications from another doctor involves quite a bit of footwork. There's no sort of just Web site or some sort of national registry you can go to sort of figure that out.

There's been a lot of talk about that sort of thing, but it is very hard to regulate, Anderson.

COOPER: Dr. Drew, you say this situation is similar to -- to the death of Anna Nicole Smith. How so?

PINSKY: Well, that was a person whom we watched publicly become addicted to opiates, to actually leave the country to maintain her addiction.

She clearly had severe mental health issues, clearly had addiction issues, and, yet, we all sat in disdain and watched as she finally died. Here -- I mean, how many more celebrities that are really national treasures are we going to lose to prescription medication before we step up while they're still alive?

In fact, in my opinion, the one shining example here is Britney Spears, whose family stepped up, was enlightened enough to step up, take direction from -- from a professional team, step in. And, again, I don't know if she's an addict or not, but she certainly had severe mental issues.

And it's because her family stepped in and followed directions, and did something really hard -- they did a conservatorship to keep this young women alive. And now she is still with us. Nobody did that anything like that, unfortunately, for Michael Jackson.

COOPER: Sanjay, we have heard that -- that Jackson was training, getting ready for his tour. His manager said he was in great shape. There was a report he passed a physical this year. I guess, otherwise, the tour wouldn't have qualified for insurance.

That does seem to conflict with reports of someone who -- who may have been heavily medicated.

GUPTA: Yes, and chronically medicated or chronically addicted to drugs.

Well, there's two -- two things. I mean, it's possible. One thing is that these drugs do have a half-life. So, they're going to last a certain amount of time. And maybe he was taking large doses and stopping for a little bit, taking large doses, or he was developing a tolerance.

So, he was taking the medications all the time, but was able to have these periods, at least, where he wasn't as lethargic and able to perform. Dr. Drew probably sees patients like this all the time, but that's maybe how that all sort of jibes together.



COOPER: Why would why -- I guess, Sanjay, why would Michael Jackson have a full-time doctor around the clock, or -- or at least a full-time doctor who -- who was with him and I guess left his own practice and has been hired by AEG, which is the company that was putting on these series of shows in London, to -- to just take care of Michael Jackson?

GUPTA: I really -- really have no idea.

You know, I have thought about that a lot. And maybe it was something contractual that he asked for from AEG, just wanted to have this doctor available all the time. Unless someone has some sort of chronic illness or is bed-ridden or needs some sort of constant care, it's really hard to explain why a doctor would need to live with him around the clock.

COOPER: Dr. Drew?

PINSKY: Yes, that's -- that was a very bizarre feature of this.

But, back to the insurance issue, you -- we have all had insurance physicals. They're fairly cursory. All he would have to show that is either, A, if he's on meds, he's following the appropriate plan of the doctors who is prescribing them, or, B, not even mention that he's not on the medication.

And it's not that in-depth a physical typically. Or we -- again, pure speculation -- maybe as part of the insurance issue, they wanted a physician to monitor him. We just don't know.

COOPER: A lot we don't know.

Dr. Drew Pinsky, appreciate your -- your expertise, and, Dr. Gupta, as well. Thank you very much.

As always, we want to hear from you. Keep sending your comments to our live blog. A lot of viewers just want to communicate with each other and talk about what you're going through, your memories of Michael Jackson, your questions and -- and concerns.

You can also check out a great photo gallery and timeline of Michael Jackson's life at

Just ahead tonight: What happens to Michael Jackson's three kids, two by a woman who has already signed away parental rights?

Also, later, what South Carolina's first lady said today when asked about her cheating husband. Hear for yourself when we continue.

We will be right back.


COOPER: Still ahead: Michael Jackson's children. Who will get custody? We're going to look at what life has been like for Jackson's two sons and his daughter and concerns about what happens to them now.

First, Erica Hill joins us with the other news -- Erica.

ERICA HILL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, dramatic new video from Iran today, as President Obama denounces the Islamic republic in his harshest terms yet.

Scoffing at Iranian President Ahmadinejad's demand for an apology, Mr. Obama called the government crackdown courageous (sic) and cautioned hard-line leaders to -- quote -- "think carefully" about the answers to those who are protesters who have been arrested, beaten and killed.

A squeaker on Capitol Hill, as the House passes the White House- backed climate change bill with virtually no Republican support, a vote of just 219-212. That means the bill -- the bill, which aims to reduce nationwide greenhouse gases 83 percent by 2050, in part through greater use of renewable energy.

Convicted Ponzi schemer Bernie Madoff could be facing 150 years in prison. In court papers files today, federal prosecutors insist that sentencing guidelines require the lengthy term, and adding any lesser sentence should still guarantee Madoff will spend his life behind bars.

Madoff's attorney has requested his client serve just 12 years. The 71-year-old is due in court for sentencing on Monday.

And South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford returning to work today, kicking off his weekly cabinet meeting with yet another apology, but no indication that he will resign.

Meantime, first lady of South Carolina Jenny Sanford expressing shock her husband dared to visit his mistress after -- quote -- "He was told in no uncertain terms not to. She also spoke of her family and the governor's political future.


JENNY SANFORD, WIFE OF SOUTH CAROLINA GOVERNOR MARK SANFORD: No, his career is not a concern of mine. He's going to have to worry about that. I'm worried about my family and the character of my children.

QUESTION: Have you talked to him about him resigning?

QUESTION: What about moving back to Columbia?

SANFORD: What about going back to Columbia?

QUESTION: With your family.

SANFORD: Me with my family? I'm taking it a day at a time. Right now, we're going out on a boat. We will see you all.


SANFORD: We're going to go look a tall ship.


QUESTION: Has he talked about resigning?


SANFORD: I'm not going to tell you what we talked about. You all have a good time. I wish we had room on the boat for you all, but we do not. Sorry.


QUESTION: Oh, come on.


HILL: Somehow, I think it's actually good for her that there's not room on the boat for everybody.

COOPER: Yes. I mean, imagine the position she's in and those kids.


COOPER: Coming up next on 360, Erica, Michael Jackson's kids, he tried to shield them from the public over these years. Now, of course, he's gone. And who gets custody of them? What is going to happen to them? And what must they be going through right now? We will try to take a closer look.

Also tonight, Lisa Marie Presley, she said Jackson knew his life would end this way, and she has much more to say about his prediction, some shocking words. We will have it for you ahead.

We will be right back.


COOPER: A plea for privacy from Debbie Rowe, the biological mother of two of Michael Jackson's three kids.

Debbie Rowe gave birth to daughter Paris and son Prince Michael Jr. She gave away her parental rights for an undisclosed sum of money, and then fought to take them back.

Our breaking news tonight, of course, Dr. Deepak Chopra telling CNN Michael Jackson approached him for prescription painkillers, that news as allegations continue that painkillers could have led the Jackson's death.

Now, yesterday, Michael Jackson's three kids lost their father. The question tonight, what will happen to them in the future?

Erica Hill reports.


HILL (voice-over): Michael Jackson's children were perhaps his best-kept secret, rarely seen in public without something covering their faces. The youngest, infamously dangled over a Berlin balcony, is even known as Blanket within the family.

They traveled the globe with him. But, despite the appearance of a secluded life, a source close to the family who knew the children when they were younger tells CNN they were very well-adjusted and loved music, calling them sharp, socially interactive, and noting, the family was very close.

In a statement reacting to Jackson's death, his ex-wife, Lisa Marie Presley, noted his children were -- quote -- "everything to him." But whether his children will stay with his family is unclear.

One person who could fight for custody, Jackson's ex-wife and the mother of his two oldest children, Debbie Rowe.

LISA BLOOM, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, the California courts, like almost all courts in this country, have a strong preference for a biological parent. They want children to be with people who are their blood relatives. So, if Debbie Rowe did not sever her parental rights entirely legally, she's first in line to have custody of the kids.

HILL: When Jackson and Rowe divorced in 1999, she gave up her parental rights, but then fought to have them restored in 2005 during Jackson's child molestation trial.

Rowe's former attorney, Ira Spinsilver (ph), tell CNN's Special Investigations Unit those rights were reinstated, but didn't say whether Rowe will seek custody of 12-year-old Prince Michael I and 11- year-old Paris.

(on camera): And while courts may favor a biological parent, there is also the matter of the late singer's wishes. It's unclear whether Michael Jackson had a will, and, if he did, whether he designated a guardian for his children. But, even then, his choice may not be granted custody in the end.

BLOOM: In a will, we can bequeath property. Children are not property. They're human beings. What we can do is set up a guardian and indicate in our will we want that person to take care of our kids after we're gone. And the courts are going to take into account that preference.

But child custody is never final. Courts always want to do what's in the best interests of the children.

HILL: Right now, all three children are with the Jackson family. A former attorney for the family tells "People" magazine Michael Jackson's mother, Katherine, is caring for them. Jackson biographer Stacy Brown (ph) tells ABC News, Mrs. Jackson wants to keep them, but claims Jackson wanted his longtime nanny to have custody should anything happen to him. No matter who gains custody, life for these children will never be the same.

Erica Hill, CNN, New York.


COOPER: Well, for their sake, let's hope at least their longtime nanny is allowed to stay with them. That's clearly one of the most important relationships in their lives.

Today, there was heartbreaking word from Lisa Marie Presley. You saw a little bit of them, of the -- of her words in Erica's piece. Presley was married to Michael Jackson for just 19 months. She's sharing with the world a deeply personal conversation she says she had with Jackson.

It was about her equally famous father, Elvis, and the shocking prediction Jackson had about his own fate.

Tom Foreman has more on the connection between two iconic superstars who died far too young.


TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: (voice-over): He was the king. He was the king of pop. And she was the woman in both of their lives.

Lisa Marie Presley says she was talking with Michael Jackson at one point in their two-year marriage, when he stunned her.

"I can't recall the exact subject matter," she writes, "but he may have been questioning me about the circumstances of my father's death. At some point, he paused. He stared at me very intensely. And he stated with an almost calm certainty, 'I'm afraid that I'm going to end up like him, the way he did.'"

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He was not pronounced dead until 3:30.

FOREMAN: Elvis died in 1977 at age 42 after collapsing at home on a summer afternoon, the cause initially reported as heart failure. But subsequent investigations found Elvis had consumed a large amount of pain killers.

Michael Jackson was 18 at the time, Lisa Marie just 9. So, she says, when she heard Jackson's terrible prediction, "I promptly tried to deter him from the idea, at which point he just shrugged his shoulders. Fourteen years later, I am sitting here watching on the news, and the memory of this conversation hit me, as did the unstoppable tears. I wanted to save him from the inevitable."

Presley has hinted at this before, telling ABC's Diane Sawyer a few years back, after divorcing Jackson... LISA MARIE PRESLEY, MICHAEL JACKSON'S EX-WIFE: I fell into this hole. You misunderstood, I'm going to save you. You know, I fell into that. I fell in love with him.

FOREMAN: In this new Internet posting, Presley goes much farther, saying many people were worried that he was engaging in self- destructive behavior. She doesn't say what precisely, only that he could use his power for good "and, when he used it for something bad, it was really, really bad.:

She writes, she is devastated by what happened, but "he knew exactly how his fate would be played out someday and he was right."


COOPER: Tom, over the years, a lot of people said their marriage was basically a sham, a publicity stunt. She wrote about that. What did she say?

FOREMAN: This was a real surprise, Anderson. Specifically she writes, "I'm going to say now what I've never said before, because I want the truth out there for once. Our relationship was not a sham, as is being reported in the press. It was an unusual relationship, yes, where two unusual people who did not live or know a normal life found a connection. Perhaps with some suspect timing on his part. Nonetheless, I do believe he loved me as much as he could love anyone, and I loved him very much."

She goes on to add that she divorced him, Anderson, because she became exhausted trying to save him from himself and what she calls the vampires and leeches that surrounded him.

COOPER: Interesting, Tom. Appreciate it, thanks.

Many of you continue to share your thoughts about Michael Jackson with us on our live chat. If you want to join the conversation right now, I just logged on myself.

Next on 360, Berry Gordy, my interview with the Motown founder. He knew Jackson was destined for greatness the first time he saw him perform. Tonight, he talks about that first performance, the early years and the warning signs.

Also tonight, groundbreaking controversial Michael Jackson and the question of race, something he refused to be defined by. Yet he did break down so many barriers, in part of our "Uncovering America" series when 360 continues.




(END VIDEO CLIP) COOPER: Michael Jackson exploded onto the national scene in 1968, signing with Motown Records, their first four Motown singles hitting No. 1 on the Billboard hot 100.

One of the first songs that Motown founder Berry Gordy heard a young Michael Jackson's sing was Smokey Robinson's "Who's Loving You?" Here it is.




COOPER: Michael Jackson, the Jackson 5.

Joining us now, Motown founder Berry Gordy. Berry, when you heard Michael singing that song, "Who's Loving You?", what went through your mind?

BERRY GORDY, MOTOWN FOUNDER: That he was a man in a child's body. He sung that song like he had been living it for 50 years. I mean, no one his age should be able to sing the blues and the feelings that he had in that song. I was amazed.

COOPER: It's interesting, because you say he was a man in a child's body at the tender age of 10 or 11; and yet, what is often said about him as an adult was that he was a child in a man's body.

GORDY: First of all, he was a sensitive, complicated young man. He was, you know, two personalities. You know, offstage, he was shy. Onstage, he was tremendously in command. He worked all day, and he practiced all night. And he was a perfectionist even then.

COOPER: I want to show some of that perfection on stage right now. Michael Jackson singing "ABC." Let's show some of that.




COOPER: He seems so joyful on stage and had such presence and such command. And yet, we now know that, you know, by his own admission, his father beat him. He says his father was very cruel to him. At the time, was that well known?

GORDY: Well, I never knew it, frankly, myself, because I -- I never saw that. You know, I -- and Michael didn't display that when I was around him, you know. He was a joyful, loving, this and that and so forth. He was a child-like, wonderful personality on and offstage.

I'm sad and numb about this, but the love that's pouring out for this -- this young, brilliant genius man, you know, I just wish that he could have felt what we're feeling about how great he was and what he meant to the world all over.

COOPER: We've certainly seen that all over the world for the last 24 hours and no doubt, for many days to come. Berry Gordy, I appreciate you reminiscing with us. Thank you.

GORDY: OK. My pleasure.

COOPER: The legendary Berry Gordy.

Last night on the program I happened to mention my strange trip to Studio 54 with Michael Jackson back when I was about 10 years old. It was after the premiere of the movie "The Wiz."

One of our producers has an even more interesting encounter with Michael Jackson. Check out the site, our blog, and see how she ended up playing piano for him in her living room. It's a great account.

Coming up, black or white, Jackson's music touched many lives. It also broke a lot of barriers. We'll talk about Michael Jackson's victories and struggles with race, next.





COOPER: The images we've seen over the last 24 hours: people remembering Michael Jackson.

Tonight, tributes to Jackson continue to pour in. The latest from Kenny Ortega, choreographer for Jackson's intended comeback tour. He was with Jackson just two days ago. Here he is answering questions about Jackson's physical state.


KENNY ORTEGA, CHOREOGRAPHER: It was awesome to watch him. You know? It was not like watching, you know, a 50-year-old man returning to the stage. In fact, you know, there were nights where you looked up there, and it was like he was timeless, ageless. You know, he was the Michael Jackson that we all remembered, you know, with that same incredible electricity and performance know-how, you know? An entertainer of entertainers.


COOPER: Fans the world over mourning Jackson, a grief attributed to his remarkable ability to transcend boundaries. His 1982 monster hit album "Thriller" united fans of every colors, and he broke racial barriers, becoming MTV's first African-American star.

But Jackson himself was, in some ways, a paradox, transformed beyond racial definition by countless surgeries. In tonight's "Uncovering America" segment, Michael Jackson's complex relationship with race.

Joining me now Jehmu Greene, a former adviser to Hillary Clinton. Also with us, Emil Wilbekin, managing editor of

Jehmu, you say Michael Jackson transcended race in a way, really, that no other artist ever has done. How so?

JEHMU GREENE, FORMER ADVISER TO HILLARY CLINTON: Absolutely. I can understand when I hear some people say it's impossible to transcend race in a racist society. But Michael Jackson transcended culture, gender, generation. He comes as close as you'll ever see.

COOPER: How did he do that?

GREENE: Well, I think when people heard his music, they didn't hear black music. They didn't hear "race music," which is how the recording industry used to refer to music by black artists. They just heard music. They just saw his talent. And that really broke through some of the, I think, cultural barriers that have been there that we still see that have somewhat segregation in churches on Sundays in this country.

COOPER: Do you think -- Emil, do you think he struggled with race?

EMIL WILBEKIN, MANAGING EDITOR, ESSENCE.COM: I think that definitely race is something that you just inherently see in him as a struggle. You see the color of his skin. You see what he is. But it wasn't something he wore on his shoulder.

I mean, you would see him at the Soul Train Awards. You would see him at BET as much as you would see him at the American Music Awards or the Grammys. So, you know, he hung out with black people and white people. It wasn't this kind of constant thing.

But you do see the transition from him being a brown-skinned young man to a very, very fair, alabaster-skinned white guy later on. So there is something going on there.

COOPER: Yes, what is going on? What do you make of that?

GREENE: Well, I think that there are all these different rumors, and we've heard the ones from he wanted to look more like Diana Ross. I think at some point, if that was the case, he went past looking like Diana Ross.

I think, you know, whether it was the skin issues that he had, how true that was, everyone, in a sense, struggles with their identity. And someone who was under such a microscope in the way that he was, I think that we just saw his struggle in ways that are unprecedented.

COOPER: It's also not clear -- I mean his desire to change his physical appearance had anything to do with race. Or he talked about being teased by his father as a child for the way he looked.

GREENE: When you're called "Big Nose" by your dad over and over, I mean, how many 16-year-old girls get nose jobs in this country? And is it that they're questioning their race, or is it that they're trying to look a certain way?

When -- when you look at white America and how many times they go into tanning booths? Are they trying to be more black or, you know -- there are those same questions that are answered on a daily basis by other people. I just think he was under such a microscope and had, of course, I think, a much larger set of sad and tragic issues that he faced in his life.

COOPER: It's interesting. You think back to "Black and White." He says, you know, "I'm not going to spend my life being a color." And yet he did break so many boundaries., I mean, MTV, as we talked about last night, he was really the first major African-American artist to be, you know, an MTV star.

WILBEKIN: Well, yes, and you think of "We Are the World," I mean, him bringing that diverse group of musical people together for charity, to do something good. You think of him going to award shows with everyone from Brooke Shields to Madonna.

He just -- it surpassed everything. Like, if you look at the reports around the world today from Asia to Africa, everyone is mourning/celebrating. I mean, in London they had a massive moonwalking thing. I mean, that is the power of Michael Jackson. He just transcends culture.

COOPER: There was an article. I want to get this right, a columnist in "The Chicago Tribune," suggested that, while he did break barriers for African-Americans, his, quote, "definition of beauty stemmed more from -- from a more white standard." Do you think that's true?

GREENE: I think that, you know, there are a lot of questions out there. Did Michael Jackson want to be white? And I would say, clearly, not. That was not the case. He -- he was struggling with image issues, I think, again, in a way that many people do but just under a much closer microscope.

COOPER: A much bigger stage.

GREENE: And, you know, there are the issues of the skin disease, vitiligo. We don't know how true and how not true that was. And I think it's just, again, he -- he has his image issues that are struggles of every single person in this country on a daily basis.

COOPER: It's fascinating. Jehmu Greene, appreciate you being on the program. Emil Wilbekin, as well, Thank you very much.

A lot more to talk about, a lot of people remembering Michael Jackson with his music. Erica and I are going to share our favorite Michael Jackson moments when 360 continues. Be right back.


COOPER: Coming up, Erica and my favorite moments from Michael Jackson performing over the years. That's tonight "Shot."

But first, Erica has a "360 Bulletin" -- Erica.

ERICA HILL, CNN ANCHOR: Anderson, plea deal today in the so- called Jena Six case. There is no jail time for five black high school students who pleaded "no contest" today to simple battery charges; simply a fine and a week's probation to settle a civil lawsuit.

The case, of course, triggered national controversy because the victim was white. The black students of Jena, Louisiana, schools had been complaining of racial harassment there.

In northeast Oklahoma tonight, a deadly accident. CNN affiliate KOTV reporting at least nine people have died after a tractor trailer slammed into cars stopped on the Will Rogers Turnpike by an earlier accident. A highway patrol officer said it looked like a war zone, with debris and bodies everywhere.

A follow-up to the Air France Flight 447 disaster. Investigators now probing two recent failures of air speed sensors aboard Airbus A- 330s, similar to the one that crashed. Those planes, though, did land safely.

And when it comes to the most dangerous high school sport, which one can get you hurt? The riskiest, you ask. Cheerleading, right there. According to a new study, researchers crunched some data from '82 to 2007. Cheerleading took the top spot, followed by gymnastics. I am not surprised.


HILL: No, seriously. Look at some of this cheerleading, the way they throw people up in the air, the gymnastics.


HILL: It ain't easy.

COOPER: It certainly is not. And you've got to smile the whole time. I guess that's the hardest part.

HILL: That's probably the hardest, riskiest part.


Coming up next on 360, classic Michael Jackson. We pick our personal favorite numbers and show stoppers over the years. What's yours?

Also, at the top of the hour, the investigation. Did prescription drugs kill Michael Jackson? We're going to have the latest on the search for answers. Be right back. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: Erica, the Michael Jackson tributes are pouring in. We've got to confess that the one that is going to take place tomorrow in the Philippines is unique. Remember this?


(MUSIC: "Thriller")


COOPER: Yikes. I don't remember that part.

HILL: I forgot that guy. Or was it a woman? I don't know if I want to know which one it was.


HILL: Some flair right there. Jazz hands, everybody, jazz hands.

COOPER: Wow, yes.

HILL: Who could forget that one? Anyway, they're doing a special tribute, 1,400 Filipino prisoners tomorrow. A "Thriller" -- lovely routine.

COOPER: Let's do that again, shall we.

HILL: There we go.

COOPER: Oh, no.

HILL: Oh, yes. Yes. See those hands. Wasn't that fantastic.

COOPER: I've never seen that angle on this video before. Wow.

HILL: Well, clearly, we know who the star is in this prison. Don't we?

COOPER: Yes. Clearly, that's the most popular person at that prison.

HILL: Absolutely.

COOPER: Wow. Anyway.

HILL: That is a tough act to follow. Anyway, they're paying their respects with a tribute performance.

COOPER: Well, we'll no doubt bring that to you on Monday.

Now for our favorite Jackson moments, although it's hard to top that. But I personally, when I think of Michael Jackson, especially in these sad days, I like to think of a very young Michael Jackson, so alive onstage, so full of raw talent and raw potential.

So this is Michael Jackson, 1970, "The Ed Sullivan Show," the Jackson 5 performing "ABC."




HILL: I love that. It is hard to pick a favorite. One of my favorites, I will say, 1983, the moonwalk that stole the show. It happened in the Motown 25th anniversary special. Of course, he was singing "Billie Jean." Jackson brought the house down, as he pretty much always did. Check it out.




HILL: There you go. Have you ever tried the moonwalk, Anderson? I tried several times and failed miserably.

COOPER: Really? Never even...

HILL: It's terrible. I know it's tough to believe, since I'm such a graceful person, as you all know.

COOPER: I remember watching that, and -- let's try to keep showing that if we can, rather than CNN right now.

But I mean, I remember watching that and thinking I'd never seen somebody move in that way. Other than, you know, James Brown doing some moves.

HILL: Right.

COOPER: But Michael Jackson took it to a whole new level.

HILL: He looked pretty incredible. There is so much talk about James Brown and Michael Jackson the last couple of days and the parallels there and the inspiration he took from James Brown. And it really is hard to choose just one moment. Because all the songs, too, when you hear them, they really take you back.

COOPER: Great. You can see all the most recent "Shots" at

Coming up at the top of the next hour, new details from the investigation into his death. Plus what is already known about prescription drugs and the doctor who are caring for him. We'll be right back.