Leno hosts Jackson attorney
BURBANK, Calif. (AP) -- Jay Leno greeted Michael Jackson's defense attorney with a mock swearing-in on "The Tonight Show" Friday, then mostly played nice after months of making the entertainer the target of monologue jokes.
Leno, a defense witness in Jackson's molestation trial, delivered only one gentle gibe at the pop star's faltering career before interviewing Thomas Mesereau Jr.
Referring to a rumor that Jackson could start a show in Las Vegas, Leno joked in his monologue, "He's going to be playing Diana Ross in the 'Legends Show."'
The comic turned serious when questioning Mesereau, who called Jackson a "misunderstood" musician who could never hurt a child or conceive of holding a family hostage.
Jackson, 46, was acquitted of charges earlier this week that he molested a boy at his Neverland Ranch, gave him alcohol and conspired to hold his family captive. He has not spoken publicly since the trial ended.
"Michael Jackson is an artist. He's a creative spirit. He likes to sit in a tree and compose music," said Mesereau, who wore all black and barely cracked a smile during the interview.
Mesereau attacked prosecutor Tom Sneddon, saying "he had a personal vendetta" and "mischaracterized the case from day one." He said Sneddon had been searching for accusers since a previous case fell apart after the boy's family accepted a multimillion dollar settlement from Jackson.
"It was like an open casting call on Michael Jackson. The best they could come up with was this family, which we thoroughly discredited from A to Z," Mesereau said.
He characterized Jackson's 1994 settlement as "really insignificant money given what he was making" but said it was a mistake.