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Leno Center Stage At Jackson Trial

Defense attorneys in the Michael Jackson child molestation trial were expected to call "The Tonight Show" host Jay Leno and comedian Chris Tucker to testify in the pop star's behalf Tuesday.

Leno was expected testify that he once received a phone call from someone he believed to be the accuser who tried to bilk him out of money. The NBC talk show host dedicated much of his monologue Monday night to discussing his court appearance. Noting he has often poked fun at Jackson's expense, Leno quipped: "I was called by the defense. Apparently they've never seen this program."

CBS News Correspondent Vince Gonzales reports that despite the jokes, Jackson's defense team has serious questions for Leno regarding a police report in which Jackson's young accuser and his family called Leno seeking money. Leno reportedly told police he thought they were looking for a mark.

"This is really a showdown of sorts in the sense that it's the first time that Michael Jackson and Jay Leno have locked eyes since Jay Leno has been making jokes about Michael Jackson practically every night for the last six months," said CBS News Consultant J. Randy Taraborrelli, who has been in close contact with the Jackson camp.

"I can tell you that Michael Jackson has not found those jokes humorous," Taraborrelli said on CBS News' The Early Show. "Jackson feels that Jay has been very unkind, very mean, and that his life is on the line."

Taraborrelli also notes that it's ironic considering those circumstances that Leno will turn out to be beneficial to the defense.

Tucker, who like Jackson befriended the boy while he was battling cancer, is expected to testify about spending time with the family. They took several trips together, including one to visit Jackson in Miami in February 2003.

Jackson's attorneys were rushing toward concluding their case by calling a series of witnesses who painted the mother of his accuser as a welfare cheat who exploited her son's cancer to live lavishly at Jackson's expense.

Taraborrelli reports that Jackson talked to Liz Taylor on Sunday and told her that she was not going to have to come here and testify.

"She's been in poor health, but she was very anxious to come here to Santa Maria, we understand, to testify on Michael Jackson's behalf," he told Early Show co-anchor Julie Chen.

Taraborrelli added that several celebrities have been removed from the defense witness list because of a ruling the judge made about two weeks ago that said character witnesses were going to be very heavily scrutinized and any character witnesses that the defense team brought forward could be refuted by anti-character witnesses by the prosecution.


"In other words, if you bring Diana Ross up here to say that Michael Jackson is a nice guy, the prosecution would have somebody to say he's not such a nice guy," Taraborrelli said. "Wasn't worth the chance. So they decided not to do it."

Taraborrelli also reports that Jackson will not take the stand in his own defense.

"I think now we can safely say finally, once and for all, Michael Jackson will not be taking the stand in his defense," he said.

The defense on Monday tried to show the mother was behind several moneymaking schemes and angrily rejected people who sought to help her with anything but cash. Her former sister-in-law testified that the mother used profanity to denounce blood drives held for the accuser when he was fighting cancer.

"She told me that she didn't need my (expletive) blood," said the former sister-in-law, bursting into tears, "that she needed money."

Jackson, 46, is accused of molesting the boy in February or March 2003 when he was 13, giving him alcohol and conspiring to hold his family captive to get them to rebut a documentary in which the boy appeared with Jackson as the entertainer said he let children into his bed for innocent, nonsexual sleepovers.

Other defense witnesses Monday included a welfare worker who said the accuser's mother did not disclose that her family received a $152,000 lawsuit settlement just 10 days before she filled out a welfare application, and an accountant who said Jackson paid $7,000 in shopping, dining and other expenses for the family during a week of their alleged captivity.