Jackson will go on-line tonight to answer polite questions only

THE BALTIMORE SUN

When Michael Jackson ventures into cyberspace at 10 p.m. today in an MTV multimedia event, on-line users will have nearly an hour to grill the King of Pop while TV viewers gawk from home. But you may wind up feeling like Diane Sawyer.

"If you want to talk to Michael," advises MTV Online executive producer Allie Eberhardt, "you want to talk about his music and his charity work. I would avoid any of the controversial stuff."

That means no probing questions about the allegations of child molestation, his relationship with wife Lisa Marie Presley or his fondness for rhinoplasty. Although net surfers are encouraged to message the Gloved One via America Online (MTV Arena, Keyword: MTV), CompuServe (Go: Convention, Select: Auditorium), Prodigy (Jump: Chat), or Sony's World Wide Web site (http://www.sony.com), on-line staffers will weed out "inappropriate" questions.

Chat hosts will submit questions to Mr. Jackson in a rotation. Then he'll call out his answers as they frantically type them in.

MTV expects 2,000 to 5,000 users to participate. For those without computers, the MTV cable channel will broadcast the chat live on a split screen with dialogue scrolling across one side of the screen and Mr. Jackson's music videos and concert footage on the other.

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