CBS yanks Jacko special in wake of charges. The network says it would be inappropriate to air the one-hour special until after Jackson is tried

By Brian Hiatt
Updated November 20, 2003 at 05:00 AM EST
Michael Jackson: George De Sota-Fashion Wire Daily

CBS wasted no time in pulling its planned Michael Jackson special in the wake of the singer’s child-molestation charges. The greatest-hits celebration ”Michael Jackson Number Ones,” which had been set to air next Wednesday, has been indefinitely delayed. ”Given the gravity of the charges against Mr. Jackson, we believe it would be inappropriate at this time to broadcast an entertainment special,” the network, which had planned to air, wrote in a statement. Jackson is charged with multiple counts of molestation, and Santa Barbara, Calif. police have issued an arrest warrant and are awaiting his surrender.

Still, the network, which recently sparked controversy by pulling the controversial ”The Reagans,” said that it was possible the Jackson special could air later. ”We are very mindful that Mr. Jackson is innocent until proven guilty,” the network statement said. Jackson had been in Las Vegas this week taping a video for his new song, ”One More Chance,” that would have been used in the special, according to the New York Times.

Meanwhile, police are expecting Jackson to surrender on Thursday, though he left Las Vegas for an unknown destination on Wednesday, according to wire service reports. And a friend told ABC’s ”Good Morning America” that Jackson plans to battle the charges. ”He feels he’s been wrongly accused and he’s going to fight this tooth and nail,” Jackson family spokesperson Steve Manning said, according to AP. ”He’s at war right now and he’s going to use any weapon he has to fight these charges.” Jackson has said he’s innocent of all charges.