Plus, Michael Jackson publishes his thoughts on everyday Americans
Shania Twain
Credit: Twain: Paul Smith/Feature Flash/Retna

SLIPPED DISCS Shania Twain watchers will recall plans for a Christmas album due this year. Sorry, Santa: It’s been scrapped. ”As she was working on it, she began writing songs and decided to focus on a new CD rather than rush to get something out by Christmas,” says a source close to Twain, who adds the singer is ”in the process of writing” the new album. Look for it in 2001…. In other CD news, Usher’s ”All About U,” previously set for fall, has now been bumped to March to include new tracks recently recorded with Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis.

BEYOND BELIEF When you’re dealing with Michael Jackson, nothing is ever black and white. The unpredictable singer recently wrote a revealing essay that was supposed to be posted on the religious website on Nov. 29. In it, Jackson describes his ”missionary work,” which had him ringing doorbells as recently as 1991. ”I would don my disguise of fat suit, wig, beard, and glasses, and head off to live in the land of everyday America,” Jackson writes in an early draft. ”I loved to set foot in all those houses and catch sight of the shag rugs and La-Z-Boy armchairs with kids playing Monopoly and grandmas babysitting and all those wonderfully ordinary and, to me, magical scenes of life.”

Jackson also discusses the joys of the Sabbath as well as his difficult childhood (”Yes, singing and dancing were my greatest joys at the time, but I was rarely happy…. I had to accept that I would never be a normal little boy with an ordinary life”). ”This article shows a very human side…and also shows him to be far more self aware than I would have expected,” says Beliefnet cofounder Steve Waldman.

Perhaps too self aware: On Nov. 27, USA Today printed excerpts from the essay, and Jackson apparently freaked out that the work in progress was made public. As a result, a Beliefnet rep says, the project has now ”temporarily been put on hold.” It’s enough to make you want to scream.