Jaci Stephen: 'It's Friday, and that damned "Thriller" video is still on every channel'

Way Out West
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The Independent Online

Jeff Goldblum is alive and well and in Los Angeles. It was the news I had been waiting to hear all night, ever since I heard about the death of Michael Jackson on Thursday afternoon.

The Jackson news came when I was on the treadmill at my gym, where I had been watching it on NBC, Fox and CNN. When I managed to find a channel that wasn't showing the event, I inadvertently tuned in to a commercial that just so happened to have Jackson singing "I'll Be There" on it. Well, not anymore he wasn't.

That was my own private joke, shortly before others started clogging up my Blackberry. "And he looked so well" said one. "He's re-releasing the 'Thriller' video in six weeks' time," said another.

I had moved to the stepper when the next bit of news arrived: "And now Jeff Goldblum. Found him on his back with his legs in the air." I literally fell off the stepper in tearful shock.

I'm not a big fan of jokes about people who have only just touched down the wrong side of rigor mortis, but had let it pass with Jacko because his later life had pretty much clouded his earlier (and dubious) achievements in my book.

But the brilliant Goldblum? What? Had he died? How? Had he been ill? And what was there to joke about if he had? (I hadn't ever seen him in The Fly, so didn't get the joke anyway). I met him a few months ago, when we appeared on Richard and Judy, although not together, alas. He was on with Kevin Spacey, talking about Speed-the-Plow, in which they were starring at the Old Vic. I was talking about a highly destructive relationship I once had with one of my schoolteachers.

"So, you shagged a teacher!" the ever-sensitive Richard Madeley said as I walked into the studio.

Meeting Jeff more than made up for it, and it was my knowing that he practised transcendental meditation that subsequently sent me back to it. I learned the technique years ago, but had let it lapse; taking it up again had once more lowered my blood pressure to normal levels. Well, all until I heard about Jeff's "death", which sent it rocketing again.

On top of his being my inspiration to new levels of meditative calm, Jeff is the new face on Law and Order: Criminal Intent, and his comic timing and charisma have sent this series soaring to ever greater heights.

No one could substantiate his passing in LA. Google said that the New Zealand police had confirmed the news, and every single US channel was still covering Jackson's death. And how. Acres and acres of footage from concerts, and that "Thriller" video, over and over and over again.

My only memory of Jackson was from when I was 14, and my mother decided to give me an afro hairdo which was, according to her, the height of fashion. I sat through double history (how could you, Mum? On a schoolday, too ...) with my duffle coat hood up, sobbing my heart out. At lunchtime I went home and made her take it out. Thanks, Michael.

When Britain woke up to the news about Jackson, my friends, who have no conception of the size of LA, assumed I must be among the grieving throng and that I was, at the very least, out buying a hat for the funeral. "It must be amazing there," they texted. Er, like every day, actually, apart from not being able to get any decent telly.

Others pointed out that it was a bit strange that, since my arrival, LA had lost Michael Jackson, Farah Fawcett and Jeff Goldblum.

It was then confirmed that Jeff was very much alive and that the whole thing had been an internet hoax. Pretty damned sick, I call it. Also, Kevin Spacey had Twittered to put everyone straight.

With my new best friend resurrected from the dead, I woke with a light heart on Friday, but that damned "Thriller" video was still on every channel. Don't stop 'til you get enough? I had. Now stop.

I finally found some welcome relief from it in the classical music in my gym's pool area, and also from a blind lady who came in with her guide dog: a huge black poodle. That barked. And barked. And barked. Even with my irritable nature, after 24 hours of non-stop Michael bloody Jackson, it was real music to my ears.

To read Jaci Stephen's blog, go to: lanotsoconfidential.blogspot.com