The King of Pop has an heir.

"Words can't describe how I feel," Michael Jackson said in a statement released by his MJJ Productions Thursday afternoon. "I have been blessed beyond comprehension and I will work tirelessly at being the best father that I can possibly be."

"I appreciate that my fans are elated, but I hope that everyone respects the privacy that Debbie (Rowe, aka Mrs. Michael Jackson) and I want and need for our son.

"I grew up in a 'fish bowl' and I will not allow that to happen to my child," he said. "Please respect our wishes and give my son his privacy."

No details of the birth were disclosed. A spokesman for Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles confirmed this morning that Jacko, Rowe and their newborn baby left the celebrity hospital about 8 a.m. They somehow managed to avoid the media horde.

However, one question remains: Did news of the birth break before the water did?

The Associated Press reported Rowe gave birth to Michael Jr. around 1 a.m. It was said to be a natural childbirth without complications. The name and weight weren't immediately available.

Then again, Los Angeles station KNBC-TV said Rowe herself called them to announce that the birth had taken place Wednesday afternoon. KNBC said that she and Michael would be going to a private airport and leaving Los Angeles, to spend time together in private with their new son--whom Michael purportedly wanted to name Junior.

Rowe, 37, who was originally due on Valentine's Day, reportedly had labor induced at the hospital Wednesday morning.

But mum, not mom, was the word from Jackson's camp Wednesday. "If and when Mr. and Mrs. Jackson have something to announce, they will tell us," a spokesman for the singer's MJJ Productions said yesterday.

According to reports, three rooms of the hospital's third floor were set aside for the Prince of Pop--the couple's first child--and security was tight.

Elizabeth Taylor, the child's godmother, had planned to be there. But she came down with the flu and couldn't participate, the AP reported.

The poor kid already has a bounty on his head. The editor of the National Enquirer has said that a picture of the family showing the baby's face could be worth $500,000.

Jackson and Rowe got married in a rushed ceremony in Australia last November--just 10 days after news of her pregnancy broke in a British tabloid.

The News of the World--England's most widely circulated newspaper--reported that after failing to conceive the natural way, Rowe was artificially inseminated by the 38-year-old Jackson. The tabloid also claimed Jacko paid her $500,000 to bear his kid. However, Jackson's publicist denied the story, calling it "completely false and irresponsible."

Previously, Rowe--who works for Dr. Arnold Klein, skin doctor to the stars and Jacko's dermatologist--allegedly said she would only bear the baby as a favor to her friend and leave the childrearing to Gloved One and a battery of nurses.

This will be the second marriage for both. Rowe divorced her first husband, a California teacher, in 1990. Lisa Marie Presley filed for divorce from Michael in January, 1996, after about 18 months of marriage.

No word yet from the Vatican on whether the Pope will grant Jackson's wish and bless the baby.

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