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Jackson, family plan thank-you party for his fans tomorrow


LOS ANGELES - To thank selected fans for their allegiance during his child-molestation trial, Michael Jackson and his family plan an invitation-only bash tomorrow night at the Chumash Casino in Santa Ynez, Calif. - although it is not clear if the self-described King of Pop will be on stage.

Jackson, 46, was acquitted Monday on all counts of molestation and conspiracy after a 14-week trial that brought throngs of his most ardent fans to the steps of the courthouse in Santa Maria, Calif. Some of those fans and others selected by the Jackson family should get word today of their invitation for tomorrow's performance.

"We don't know who will perform; we're just told the Jackson family is putting together an event for fans they have selected," said Frances Snyder, a spokeswoman for the casino.

Jackson's physical condition has been the subject of considerable speculation since his trial began. On the day of his first court appearance, Jackson performed an impromptu dance atop a sport utility vehicle. But during the trial, he often appeared frail and weak, arriving late to court one morning after complaining of back pain. The day of his acquittal, he walked stiffly from the courthouse to a waiting car, helped by his father and his bodyguards.

The casino's usual crew of sound and lighting workers have been scheduled to work tomorrow, and the seating will be in standard concert format, suggesting that the event will be more performance than party.

In September 2003, Jackson staged a 45th birthday celebration at The Orpheum Theatre in downtown Los Angeles. Fans paid $30 to attend, and many also brought gifts for the singer, who waved from an opera box as dancers, singers and Jackson impersonators feted him from the stage. He did not perform.

The Los Angeles Times is a Tribune Publishing newspaper.

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