Written by Dan Barash
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Saturday, 26 February 2005

image for Michael Jackson and Robert Blake Form Celebrity Trial Cartel
Public appetite for celebrity trials continues to grow unabated.

Celebrities Michael Jackson and Robert Blake have formed a cartel to control the flow of media coverage of celebrity trials. The Organization of Prosecuted Entertainment Celebrities (OPEC) will set quotas on the level of media exposure permitted for trials of indicted public figures. OPEC co-founders include Phil Spector and most of the National Basketball Association. Paris Hilton is reported to have joined as a proactive measure.

In recent years several celebrities have suffered economic hardship as their trials have been overshadowed by the legal troubles of even bigger stars. Robert Blake has been particularly bitter about the lack of coverage of his murder trial. "OPEC will insure equitable media exposure so all celebrities with legal issues have their day in the sun," according to a Blake spokesman. Superstars such as Michael Jackson will have the tools necessary to regulate media exposure so they can remain in the limelight even with multiple trials over several years.

Several major media outlets claim the cartel illegally restrains trade and harms consumers. "Celebrity trial coverage is the lifeblood of the American media," said Fox News president Roger Ailes. "It is unconscionable that a handful of wealthy individuals are willing to deprive millions of Americans in order to pursue short-term economic gain," he added. Insiders say several major newspapers are considering legal challenges to OPEC.

European media outlets are concerned they may be entirely locked out of celebrity trial coverage. Lacking domestic supplies of law-breaking celebrities, many European countries are dependent on imports from America. BBC News executive Mark Damazer urged European governments to fund more celebrity exploration. "Prince Charles' media reserves are nearly exhausted," he said, "we need to find new sources of celebrity."

The OPEC cartel will meet annually in Beverly Hills to set levels of celebrity trial coverage. Michael Jackson, with the highest proven reserves of media potential, is likely to dominate the proceedings.

American interest in celebrity trials has risen steadily every year since O. J. Simpson was charged with murder in 1995. Last year the public's obsession with celebrity misdeeds reached record levels, according to the non-profit Celebrity Research Institute. "Consumers behave as if the supply of celebrity trials is infinite, we're simply not planning for the future "said Institute president Philip Withers.

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