Jackson gives rare interview to Ebony


After years of silence, rumor and a sordid trial, Michael Jackson has given his first major U.S. interview in a decade -- and has been pronounced normal.

Jackson, 49, appears on the front cover of the African-American magazine "Ebony" to mark the 25th anniversary of "Thriller" -- the world's best-selling studio album that also made him a superstar.

But the self-styled "King of Pop," who has largely shunned publicity since his 2005 trial and acquittal on child molestation charges, gave little glimpse of what the future holds despite hints in recent years that a comeback is in the works.

The cover photo of the magazine, whose December edition hits newsstands on November 12, is causing almost as much of a stir as the interview, which barely addresses the fallout of the trial.

Jackson is pictured dressed all in white, with a glowing peaches-and-cream skin. One post on the pop culture blog dotspotter.com commented; "Michael Jackson has to be the whitest person to ever be on the cover of Ebony magazine."

Jackson has in the past attributed his gradual skin whitening to a disease called vitiligo.

Harriette Cole, creative director of Ebony, spent a day and a half with Jackson during the photo shoot and interview and said, "he came across really as kind of normal."

"He's 49. He's a grown-up. If you learn from your challenges, then you become stronger. He certainly seemed like that," Cole told NBC's "Today" show this week. "Honestly ... he was normal."

Jackson, who has three children, told Ebony he was in the studio daily but did not specify whether he was working on a new album.

Excerpts of the Ebony interview were released as reports emerged that Jackson could lose his famous Neverland ranch home in central California.

Records obtained by the U.S. housing breakdown blog www.ml-implode.com, showed that Jackson owed $23.2 million on a $23 million loan on the property and that Neverland was listed on the foreclosure and notice of default report for Santa Barbara County.

Jackson's aides did not return calls for comment.

Jackson abandoned Neverland after the 2005 trial and has lived for a time in Ireland, Dubai and Las Vegas and is currently living on the U.S. East Coast.

The former pop superstar is reportedly planning to release a 25th anniversary edition of "Thriller" later in November with four new and four remixed tracks. He is said to have worked with Kanye West, Akon and Will.I.Am of the Black Eyed Peas.

The original 1982 "Thriller" has sold more than 104 million copies worldwide and was the first album in history to produce seven Billboard Hot 100 top-ten singles.