Dr. Conrad Murray’s present trial reminds me of the day Michael Jackson died and an unusual moment in Los Angeles. I was sent to Hollywood Boulevard to interview fans who had gathered around his star, which is placed in front of Grauman ‘s Chinese Theatre. But his star was obscured by scaffolding for an upcoming Hollywood premier. So fans flocked instead to another star—that of a local radio talk show host also named Michael Jackson. From my story (June 26, 2009, Daily News):
HOLLYWOOD – Fans of Michael Jackson flocked to Hollywood Boulevard on Thursday as they learned of the singer’s tragic death – only to find they couldn’t leave tributes on his sidewalk star.
Jackson’s star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame was blocked off by scaffolding set up for a movie premiere, Sacha Baron Cohen’s “Bruno.” Extra security guards were brought in to keep distraught fans with candles and flowers away from the sidewalk star.
“I grew up with Michael Jackson,” said Suzette Jones, 45, a Virginia woman who was in Los Angeles visiting her son at the University of Southern California.
“I saw the Jackson 5 in concert. Who cares about Bruno?”
“I think it’s disrespectful.” Jones and her son, Erik Douglas, 26, wandered around Hollywood Boulevard for an hour, dazed by the news and searching for the star to leave flowers before they realized it was under the scaffolding.
“He’s a pop icon,” she said tearfully. “If anyone should be remembered in Hollywood, it should be him. How come we can’t honor him?” Some fans gathered on Vine Street at a star labeled “Michael Jackson” – apparently unaware that it was named for the radio personality of the same name.
Rafael Landa, 46, of Hollywood, was struck by the two celebrity deaths Thursday, Jackson’s and actress Farrah Fawcett’s. “Hollywood was struck twice today,” said Landa, who left a candle at Fawcett’s star.
Donna DeSalvo and her daughter Christina were visiting Hollywood from Plymouth, Mass. The visit resulted in an eerie coincidence.
“The last time I was here in L.A., Elvis Presley died,” she said. “It’s very sad. (Jackson) was so young. And I just saw Farrah Fawcett’s star yesterday, and I thought, `Poor thing, she’s really sick.”‘
Colleen Woodard, a Hollywood tour guide who was selling sightseeing passes on the boulevard, was trying to attract customers by urging them to “see Michael Jackson’s house, see Michael Jackson’s house.” She expects brisk business in the next few days.
“We’re gonna be really busy this weekend. People want to see that site more than anything else. I know we’ll sell out.”
“It seems really sad around here,” she added. “People are walking around in shock.”