Less than a week after a reporter was removed from the Broadway premiere of MJ The Musical, Lynn Nottage’s Michael Jackson estate-approved musical, for asking about the King of Pop’s legacy of abuse allegations, a new Jackson project has been announced that’s equally unlikely to feature all sides of Jackson’s life.
Variety reports that Lionsgate and Oscar-nominated screenwriter John Logan (Gladiator, The Aviator, Hugo) will be teaming with Bohemian Rhapsody producer Graham King for Michael. Michael will also be produced by the Michael Jackson estate’s co-executors, John Branca and John McClain, in case you were wondering what kind of film to expect. Moonwalking? Yes. Lip syncing? Absolutely. Nuance? Well…they’d rather you just paid attention to how much whatever awards-hungry actor they snag looks like MJ.
Bohemian Rhapsody made a ton of money and won plenty of Oscars for its sloppy rock drama, but weathered heavy criticism both for taking liberties with the truth around Queen and Freddie Mercury, and for being a terrible movie. Let’s not even touch how it handled Mercury’s sexuality.
That doesn’t definitely mean that Michael will gloss over or even misrepresent Jackson’s allegations of child sexual abuse, but then again, one of the only quotes given in the story announcing the film is from Jackson’s mom:
“Ever since Michael was little, as a member of The Jackson 5, he loved the magic of cinema,” said Katherine Jackson. “As a family, we are honored to have our life story come alive on the big screen.”
That doesn’t sound like someone ready to approve an insightful and considered look at a tragic and complicated figure mired in abuse. It sounds like someone ready to watch an A-lister vamp their way through an extended SNL impression while everyone nods their head to “Billie Jean.”
HBO doc Leaving Neverland covered Jackson and some of his alleged victims in 2019.