Yesterday, when we stumbled on the much-reported claims that Michael Jackson had some genetic disease we’d never heard of called Alpha-1 Antitrypsin Deficiency (or A1AD)—which attacks the lungs and liver—and was suffering from severe gastrointestinal bleeding, emphysema, and 95 percent blindness in his left eye as a result, we thought, “Nah, couldn’t be.” We could imagine Jackson with one, maybe two, of these ailments, but internal bleeding, lung disease and blindness? Really? The rumors stemmed from comments made to the Sun by Jacko’s unofficial biographer, Ian Halperin (the guy behind Who Killed Kurt Cobain? and scandal-mongering bios on James Taylor and Celine Dion), who claimed the singer’s illness had left him in need of a lung transplant, but to weak to go through with it. “He can barely speak,” Halperin said.
Well, late last night, Jackson’s people—or rather his person, Dr. Tohme Tohme—predictably squashed the rumors. According to Rollingstone.com, Dr. Tohme, Jackson’s “official and sole spokesperson,” issued a statement saying Helperin’s “wild allegations concerning Mr. Jackson’s health are a total fabrication. Mr. Jackson is in fine health…” Dr. Tohme also claimed Jackson is in talks with a “major entertainment company & television network” to jump-start his career with a tour and a few specials (a claim that seems only slightly more plausible than Jackson’s super illness). While Jackson did say he was too sick to travel to London to face a $7 million lawsuit from an Arab sheikh last month, Halperin might not be entirerly trustworthy. Though his Simon & Schuster bio describes him as a “former winner of the Rolling Stone magazine Award for Investigative Journalism,” the magazine itself revealed that Halperin had only received a College Journalism Award in 1985, and that the honor was split among the staff of Concordia University’s student newspaper. Nice.