Las Vegas Sun

November 21, 2019

Currently: 47° — Complete forecast


Red carpet rolled out of courtroom

Treatment of Michael Jackson’s doctor after appearance before judge opens door for entire new cottage industry

Showing an unprecedented level of creative initiative, the bailiffs at Clark County Family Court have launched a new tourism and job creation initiative: VIP justice.

This exciting strategy was unveiled Monday at a hearing to decide whether to toss Michael Jackson’s deathbed doctor in jail for failing to pay 15 grand in child support. Not only did the doctor get to skip jail and forget about the money, but an armed bailiff was so solicitous as to adopt the role of the doctor’s private security guard and keep a dozen or so reporters trapped in the courtroom until the doctor was out of the building and safe from questions.

Since then, it’s been a mess. Reporters, editors and pundits are howling about the First Amendment and even the Fourth, the Family Court is hemming and hawing, the bailiffs have gone mute and for some reason no one can call this what it is: A great way to steal business from California.

Specifically, the headliner crime business.

Just think of it: Every year in the Los Angeles area, celebrities and other newsmakers are arrested, charged and tried, all in a swirl of media coverage and quick-buck merchandising. But there is, alas, a dark side to this industry: The celebrities involved are often treated like criminals and sometimes wind up in jail.

If it isn’t careful, Los Angeles is going to lose its crime business just as it’s losing film production to Canada and Eastern Europe. No doubt agents and defense attorneys are already wondering if they could do better for their clients somewhere else.

And here we have just sent the famous a message: If you have to make a court appearance in Vegas, at least you’ll know you won’t have to worry about the paparazzi. They’ll be corralled in the courtroom at no cost to you, the taxpayers’ valued guests.

The timing is, for us, perfect.

If Las Vegas’ economy gets any worse, we’ll have to rename the city West Detroit. We need a new business, this business. And our pitch is clear: Celebrities, justice doesn’t have to happen to you here.

This is image promotion: The brand, if not the reality, of Las Vegas is about decadence, recklessness and regrettable decisions, and it’s about time we got some celebrity spokesmen. This is jobs: Think of the T-shirt sellers and sidewalk merchants, not to mention all the cameramen, producers, photographers and reporters — and there will have to be twice as many as those, because if some reporters are going to be locked inside the courthouse, you’ll need to hire extra reporters to stand outside and still more reporters whom editors can send to cover the plight of the first group of reporters.

This week was a good start. We showed we can offer basic journalist-containment services and that we’re flexible enough to extend celebrity privileges to even Jacko’s Quacko. In Hollywood terms, it was a very good pitch meeting.

And there are some very natural future services we could offer, like courtroom-adjacent dressing rooms, free massages and, if bail is high and your cash is short, a publicly comped cell at Bellagio. No doubt the Nevada Development Authority can come up with more and devise an advertising campaign.

But we may have to work harder than that. As difficult as it is to admit, Las Vegas has an image problem. It’s so embarrassing to even mention it, but it’s so large and egregious that we have to confront it.

You see, we put OJ in jail. Something like that would never, ever happen in Los Angeles.

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