Mon, Nov 13, 2006 - Page 13 News List

Planet Pop

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For US$3,400, you could spend Christmas with Michael Jackson in Tokyo.

PHOTO: AP

Religion should be outlawed because it lacks compassion and promotes hatred of homosexuals, gay pop star Elton John said in an interview that was published yesterday.

The piano man was speaking in a special "gay edition" of The Observer newspaper's Music Monthly Magazine, where he shared his views on subjects ranging from being a music icon to the Iraq war.

At a time when religion is the subject of fierce debate in Britain over the right to wear the Muslim veil and other faith symbols, John complained there was a general lack of leadership from spiritual leaders.

"I think religion has always tried to turn hatred towards gay people. From my point of view, I would ban religion completely," he was quoted as saying."

Continued the temperamental tickler of the ivories: "Organized religion doesn't seem to work. It turns people into really hateful lemmings and it's not really compassionate. The world is near escalating to World War III and where are the leaders of each religion?"

Speaking of lemmings, controversial pop icon Michael Jackson was expected to appear at a Christmas party in Tokyo, where the best tickets would be priced at US$3,400 dollars per person, a report said yesterday.

Organizers hoped to hold the event in Tokyo on Dec. 19, the Nikkan Sports tabloid said.

If the reclusive King of Pop agreed, the Premium Christmas show would be officially announced in the coming week, the paper said.

The audience was likely to have dinner with Jackson while listening to his recorded music, the report said.

It was not clear how many tickets would be sold.

Those with the platinum tickets would be allowed to sit nearer to the Gloved One and have a group picture taken with the singer, the tabloid said.

Although he's recently preferred to spend traipsing through the streets of Bahrain in female drag, Mr. Sleepover came to Japan in May, when he received a Legends Award at MTV Japan's Video Music Awards. It was the most public outing by the superstar since he was acquitted on child molestation charges in June of 2005, and fled the US for the relative privacy of the Arab kingdom.

While Jackson was alleged to have exploited children, those involved in the production of the new Borat movie are being sued for taking advantage of two drunk college students.

The legal action filed last week on their behalf claims they were duped into appearing in the spoof documentary Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan, in which they made racist and sexist comments on camera.

This would not be the first time that drunken frat boys acted like louts, but these young men "engaged in behavior that they otherwise would not have engaged in," the lawsuit says.

Borat follows the adventures of comedian Sacha Baron Cohen's Kazakh journalist character in a blend of fiction and improvised comic encounters as he travels across the US and mocks Americans.

The lawsuit claims that in October 2005, a production crew took the students to a bar to drink and "loosen up" before participating in what they were told would be a documentary to be shown outside of the US.

"They were induced to agree to participate and were told the name of the fraternity and the name of their school wouldn't be used," said the plaintiffs' attorney, Olivier Taillieu. "They were put into an RV and were made to believe they were picking up Borat the hitchhiker." After a bout of heavy drinking, the plaintiffs signed a release form they were told "had something to do with reliability issues with being in the RV," Taillieu said.

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