Scoop: Joe Jackson Plans 80th Birthday Bash

MJ's dad wants to "give back" to Gary, Indiana

If Joe Jackson’s spate of recent interviews feels like a publicity tour, that might be because it is one. Michael Jackson’s father is ramping up for his big 80th birthday bash scheduled for Aug. 22 in the Chicago suburb of Tinley Park.

He’s throwing the party with his record label partner Marshall Thompson, who wrote on his MySpace page that the singer's father is well-known for his “popular birthday celebrations each year.”

If it seems like a strange way to work through grief, there is this: The celebration will double as a benefit for the new cultural center Jackson plans on building in Gary, Ind.

“I wanted to give back to the city of Gary,” Jackson said. He added that plans for the cultural center include a large hotel, restaurants, a memorabilia museum, a movie theater, a performing arts theater, and a recording studio.

However, representatives for the office of Gary's mayor, Rudy Clay, weren't aware of the big birthday party/fundraiser plans.

“The Jackson family is still grieving the loss of their son, like we all are,” a spokesman said. “We’re always talking to the family, but there are no announcements to be made about fundraiser or the memorial.”

When it was pointed out that apparently Jackson and Thompson were apparently OK with making announcements, the mayor’s office said they’d have to look into things further.

In the mean time, Jackson is in New York, scouting out locations for future fundraisers.

Still no deal for Abdul
Despite Simon Cowell’s declaration that Paula Abdul would be back on “American Idol,” it seems that there’s still no deal in place for the always-complimentary judge.

The show won’t comment on where things stand, but a source close to Abdul says that negotiations seem to be at a stalemate.

“Putting the departure idea out there didn’t get anything solved quickly, but it did get her plenty of attention,” said the source.

Not all attention is good attention, however. Us magazine reports that some who work behind the scenes at the show think that Abdul is “too much trouble.”

Read this, watch that
After a Michael Jackson and vacation-induced hiatus, RTWT is back. This week I can’t speak highly enough of my recent beach read, “Apologize, Apologize!” by newcomer Elizabeth Kelly. The story follows the highly dysfunctional Flanagan family. The family “puts the personality in disorder,” and theirs is a story capable of causing laughter or tears, depending on mood, within the confines of a single paragraph.

If you missed the series premiere of ABC’s “Dating in the Dark,” set your DVRs for Monday’s episode. A group of six singles are put into a mansion and are matched up on blind dates — as in, the “dates” take place in a dark room that takes physical appearance out of the equation entirely. Sounds a little campy, but the end result is actually surprisingly pleasing.

Courtney Hazlett delivers the Scoop Monday through Friday on Follow Scoop on Twitter: @ courtneyatmsnbc.

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