Two Michaels with a TV mission

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The Independent Online
NEW YORK - Is there life after junk-bond purgatory and an admission on international television that you've had your nose re-done twice? For Michael Milken and Michael Jackson, respectively, the answer apparently is yes, writes Larry Black.

Before a thousand fans in Los Angeles yesterday, the world's two richest Michaels appeared together on stage at a three-day education conference sponsored by the Milken Family Foundation - brought together, it seems, by a coincidence of the performer's new-found interest in children, and the former Drexel Burnham financier's requirement that he perform 1,800 hours of community service as part of his sentence for defrauding his clients.

Mr Milken was released from a halfway house earlier this month after serving 22 months at a federal penitentiary. In April 1990, he pleaded guilty to six counts of securities fraud and was sentenced to 10 years in prison, but won early release by agreeing to cooperate with prosecutors. Despite paying dollars 600m in fines, his family's fortune is still believed to worth well more than dollars 1bn.

To shouts of 'Welcome back, Michael,' the 46-year-old junk-bond wizard delivered a two-hour speech, extolling the virtues of cooperation between the business world and universities in a quest to solve urban problems. Then, in a surprise announcement, he said he had signed on Mr Jackson as a partner in a new cable TV channel devoted to education and entertainment.

(Photographs omitted)