Live 8 organiser Russell Simmons is still hoping troubled popstar MICHAEL JACKSON will perform at the Philadelphia leg of tomorrow's (02JUL05) charity extravaganza.

The hip-hop mogul insists memories of the THRILLER star's recent child abuse case would not blight the show - and he is convinced Jackson's super stardom can only help the fight against poverty.

Simmons wants Jackson to appear for a grand finale performance of the 1985 Live Aid anthem WE ARE THE WORLD, which Jackson co-wrote with Lionel Richie.

He says, "He was found not guilty. The guy deserves the benefit of the doubt. He's the most newsworthy (performer). If he jumps on that stage, that'll mean a lot. He hasn't said no. Until he says no, I'll keep dreaming."

Jackson, who was acquitted earlier this month (13JUN05), is currently on holiday in the Middle Eastern country of Bahrain.

01/07/2005 05:20