Once it was a spider that kept Michael Jackson from a court date. On Tuesday, it was the flu bug.
The "very, very ill" entertainer was driven to a hospital instead of the Santa Maria, California, courthouse where jury selection is underway in his child-molestation trial.
Jackson, 46, was admitted to the Santa Barbara County community's Marian Medical Center where he was being treated for a "very serious case of the flu," his official Website said. The diagnosis of "very, very ill" was made by defense attorney Thomas Mesereau Jr., speaking to NBC News.
In a brief afternoon press conference, one of the hospital's emergency room doctors said the ailing pop icon had been administered fluids for a "flu-like illness with some vomiting."
"He's in stable condition and we expect a full recovery," said Dr. Chuck Merrill, who declined to answer questions.
Michael's brother Randy told reporters the singer would remain in the hospital overnight.
Minus its star defendant, Superior Court Judge Rodney Melville put the Jackson trial on hold until Feb. 22.
Melville informed potential jurors of Jackson's hospitalization in open court at about 8:45 a.m., or about 15 minutes after proceedings were to have begun for the day. Reporters in the courtroom said many of singer's would-be peers grumbled at the news.Jackson's hospitalization marks the second delay of the barely begun trial. Melville suspended proceedings last week when Mesereau's sister died.
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The Associated Press said Jackson reportedly was not feeling well on Monday. But according to several reports, the singer, who was in court, was hearty enough to smile and nod at members of the jury pool, and fiddle with a napkin.
Since showing up late for an arraignment, and dancing atop his stretch SUV in the courthouse parking lot in January 2004, Jackson has been a more model defendant. As a rule, he arrives early and with a minimum of fanfare.
There is little routine, though, where any Jackson court appearance is concerned. In 2002, during a civil-lawsuit trial, the Gloved One made like the Hobbled One, showing up for court one day with crutches he said were needed after a nasty spider bite. On what was to be his last day of scheduled testimony in the case, Jackson didn't appear at all, citing the arachnid attack. (He eventually returned to the stand.)
In the current criminal case, Jackson is charged with 10 counts of molestation, conspiracy and plying a child with an "intoxicating substance" believed to be wine.
Jackson has pleaded innocent to all charges, and, per the list of potential witnesses released by his defense team Monday, may well expect famous friends from Elizabeth Taylor to Jay Leno to help him attest to that.