New book chronicling Michael Jackson’s final days to become a TV series
Michael Jackson’s life and career has already been well mined since his 2009 death. High-profile lawsuits, controversies and an avalanche of projects have revisited the King of Pop’s genius, eccentricities and scandals.
And now Jackson’s life, specifically his final weeks, will be the subject of a new television series.
Warner Bros. Television Group announced it has signed broadcaster, author and producer Tavis Smiley to an exclusive multiyear development and production deal that first will see two of Smiley’s books being adapted for the small screen, including the upcoming “Before You Judge Me: The Triumph And Tragedy of Michael Jackson’s Last Days.”
The book, set for release in June 2016, will recount the final 16 weeks of Jackson’s life when the superstar was prepping an ambitious series of comeback concerts titled “This Is It.” Smiley’s book promises to offer a “vibrant account” of those last days and the controversies surrounding his deal.
Jackson’s planned shows, which also would have served as his “final curtain call,” never happened, of course, as he died of acute propofol and benzodiazepine intoxication on June 25, 2009, after suffering from cardiac arrest in the last weeks of rehearsals for “This Is It.”
Since his death, the King of Pop has continued to be in high demand.
“This Is It,” the concert film that documented the rehearsals of the planned farewell tour, broke box-office records when it was released in fall 2009.
A Cirque du Soleil production launched in 2011, “The Immortal World Tour,” became one of the top-grossing tours of all time. Cirque revisited Jackson’s discography for a second show, “One,” which set up a permanent residency at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas. The pop star even anchored an immersive video game with “Michael Jackson: The Experience.”
In 2010, the Michael Jackson estate and Sony Music struck a deal reportedly worth $250 million to issue 10 projects of original and reissued collections over seven years.
However, posthumous releases have proved a more difficult sell.
“Michael,” a collection of unreleased material cobbled from tracks the singer was crafting in his final years, was released in late 2010, but the album was marred by controversy as critics, fans and even family members questioned the project.
Critics also were unkind to the remix album for “Immortal” and the dance remixes packaged with the anniversary box set of “Bad 25,” which was released in 2012.
Last year, L.A. Reid spearheaded “Xscape,” a creatively ambitious reworking of vaulted Jackson music that took new tracks from hitmakers such as Timbaland and Rodney Jerkins built around decades-old, unreleased vocals from the singer. The album peaked at No. 2 on the Billboard 200 chart and yielded Jackson a posthumous smash in “Love Never Felt So Good.”
“Before You Judge Me: The Triumph And Tragedy of Michael Jackson’s Last Days” will be published by Little, Brown and Co., and written by Smiley with David Ritz.
Warner Bros. also is developing an event series based on Smiley’s New York Times bestseller “Death of a King: The Real Story of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Final Year” and a series based on “My Journey With Maya,” which traces his nearly 30-year friendship with poet, author and civil rights icon Maya Angelou.
The projects will be produced through the Smiley Group Inc. in association with Warner Bros. Television or Warner Horizon Television.
For more music news follow me on Twitter: @gerrickkennedy
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