LOS ANGELES – The extensive connections of Michael Jackson, his family and friends became a challenge Monday for a judge trying to seat an impartial jury for his mother’s wrongful death lawsuit against the company that promoted Jackson’s ill-fated “This is It” concert.

As individual questioning finally began, some jury prospects who had passed the written portion of the process had to be excused because of personal connections.

Among them was David Walsh, a Canadian singer-songwriter who said he had met members of the musical Jackson family and was friends with Lisa Marie Presley, Jackson’s ex-wife. He said his own manager was on the witness list.

“I’ve had friends in Michael’s band and my best friend was a backup singer on the “This Is It” concert,” Walsh said.

Walsh said he had formed opinions about the case that were probably unshakable.

Katherine Jackson’s suit claims AEG endangered Jackson’s life by hiring an incompetent doctor, Conrad Murray, to look after the superstar singer. AEG lawyers are expected to argue that Jackson was complicit in his own demise by insisting on hiring Murray and demanding the anesthetic propofol to help him sleep.

The latest phase of jury selection came after jurors filled out questionnaires about their views on Jackson, his family and his life and death.

A preliminary group of 104 prospects was immediately reduced by six when members reported hardships or acquaintances on the witness list.

Murray is serving a prison term after being convicted of involuntary manslaughter in Jackson’s death from an overdose of propofol.

Jackson died in his bed in June 2009 at the age of 50.

Chairman, 61, of Weinstein Co. produces an heir

LOS ANGELES- Harvey Weinstein and Georgina Chapman have added a baby boy to their family.

A spokeswoman for the 61-year-old co-chairman of the Weinstein Co. said Monday that Weinstein and his 37-year-old fashion designer wife welcomed a son Thursday in New York.

Weinstein and the Marchesa co-founder are already parents to a 2-year-old daughter.

The Oscar-winning producer of such films as “Silver Linings Playbook” and “Django Unchained” also has three daughters from his previous marriage to Eve Chilton.

Chapman and Weinstein married in 2007.

Keys brings global HIV campaign to women in this country

WASHINGTON — Alicia Keys says she wants to spark a global conversation about HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.

The Grammy Award-winning singer met with women who are part of an HIV program at United Medical Center in the nation’s capital Monday to discuss their experiences with the virus, including the fear and stigma associated with the disease.

Keys, who has also traveled to Africa and India to meet with women who have HIV, said she felt connected to the women there and here because “they looked like they could be my sister, or they could be my aunt, or they could be my cousin.”

Keys is working with the Kaiser Family Foundation for “Empowered,” a campaign launched last month to educate women about HIV and provide grants to projects that will do that.

– From news service reports