Networks can't get enough Jacko

If you own a TV, chances are you'll be seeing Michael Jackson's mug again and again over the next few days.

Monday, which Variety has dubbed the "Night of the Jackos," is the big one: ABC and NBC have scheduled dueling prime-time specials on Neverland's would-be Peter Pan.

ABC is pulling out all the stops. It will be all Jacko all night. From 7 p.m. to 8 p.m., the network will air a special "PrimeTime" focusing on the latest controversies surrounding the 44-year-old pop star.

Then, from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m., it will rerun British journalist Martin Bashir's documentary, "Living With Michael Jackson." The show drew 27 million viewers when it was first shown Feb. 6 on "20/20."

Not to be outdone by its rival's Michael mania, NBC has decided to expand its own news special, "Michael Jackson Unmasked," from one to two hours. It will be shown from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. on "Dateline."

Castro passes on film festival

Berlin -- Cuban leader Fidel Castro, the subject of Oliver Stone's new documentary, "Comandante," has sent his regrets to the Berlin Film Festival.

Castro had been invited to attend Friday's screening of the film, culled from three days of intimate conversations the Cuban president did with Stone. But festival director Dieter Kosslick received a letter from Castro saying he was unable to attend, spokeswoman Frauke Greiner said.

"Comandante," an HBO documentary, premiered at this year's Sundance Film Festival.

Washington helps out at home

Mount Vernon, N.Y. -- Denzel Washington brought a $1 million check with him to a recent dinner celebrating the 90th anniversary of the Mount Vernon Boys & Girls Club, a city councilman says.

Washington, who grew up in Mount Vernon, "is truly a great person and very dedicated to the club," said Councilman Lyndon Williams, a member of the club's board.

Sponsors hoped to raise about $200,000 from the black-tie, $150-a-plate event, which also featured Ossie Davis, Jermaine Jackson and several public officials.

Hope birthday festivities begin

Simi Valley, Calif. -- Entertainer Bob Hope is getting an early 100th birthday present: He's being honored at the shrine dedicated to longtime friend Ronald Reagan.

An exhibit featuring rare photographs, video and film clips, and letters from the families of military personnel Hope visited on overseas USO tours opens Monday at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library.

"They really brought dad's life to life," daughter Linda Hope said Thursday after touring the "Bob Hope: American Patriot" exhibit.

The museum's celebration of Hope's 100 years continues through June 7. Hope, who turns 100 on May 29, has been secluded at his Los Angeles home in recent years.


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