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The Aftermath of Michael Jackson and Oprah: What About His Face?

February 13, 1993 GMT

LOS ANGELES (AP) _ The buzz over Michael Jackson’s interview with Oprah Winfrey continued on several fronts Friday and included a statement from the pop star’s dermatologist about Jackson’s much-discussed skin condition.

Dr. Arnold Klein said he diagnosed Jackson’s discoloring vitiligo skin disorder in 1986 and said, ″Mr. Jackson has requested that I make this statement.″

″It is not contagious and is a result of the loss of pigment producing cells of the skin,″ the Beverly Hills dermatologist said.

Also Friday, the A.C. Nielsen Co. confirmed that more than 62 million people watched the 90-minute special Wednesday night.

The chalky-faced Jackson revealed the skin disorder when Miss Winfrey asked why his skin was becoming whiter.

He said he is proud of being a black man and hurt by insinuations that he is bleaching his skin or trying to be white. He wears pale makeup, Jackson said, to even out the appearance of his skin and control the condition.

Los Angeles Times television critic Howard Rosenberg said Friday: ″If Oprah was wondering why dark makeup wouldn’t work just as well, she didn’t give a clue.″

The Jackson interview also raised eyebrows at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences among those who wondered where Jackson got that 7-foot statue of Oscar that stands on his theater stage.

″We’re just curious, but we’re not going to make any effort to find anything out,″ said John Pavlik, an academy spokesman. ″If Michael wanted to let us know where he got it, we’d like to know.″

The movie academy is scrupulous about protecting the copyrighted image of Oscar. There are more than a dozen of the wood-and-plastic Oscars similar to the one adorning Jackson’s stage and one of them is missing.

″A few years ago, one walked off somehow from the academy’s lobby in Beverly Hills,″ Pavlik said. ″We don’t know where it went.″

Among viewers of the reclusive entertainer’s first interview in a decade were many critically ill children. The kids, their parents and donors deluged the Make-A-Wish Foundation of America with inquiries after seeing Jackson’s sprawling Neverland Ranch in Santa Barbara.

″It was wonderful,″ said Judy Lewis, executive director of the local Make-A-Wish group.

The entertainer regularly invites terminally ill children to visit the ranch.

According to Nielsen, ″Michael Jackson Talks ... to Oprah″ had a 39.3 rating and a 56 share of the viewing audience, meaning 36.6 million households tuned in to the special for an audience of 62.3 million.

That compares favorably with last year’s Super Bowl, which garnered a 40.3 rating and a 61 share, and this year’s Super Bowl, which had a 45.1 rating and a 66 share. The pro-football championship is the perennial TV ratings leader.

The most-watched TV programs of all-time, excluding Super Bowls, were the 1983 ″M-A-S-H″ finale on CBS, which was watched by 50.2 million households; the 1980 ″Dallas (Who Shot JR?)″ episode on CBS, which was watched by 41.2 million households; and the 1983 TV movie ″The Day After″ on ABC, which was watched by 38.5 million households, said Nielsen spokeswoman Maria Zemon.