Saturday, May 25, 2024

Michael Jackson Documentary Makers Get Bad News: No Music Allowed


It’s bad news for anyone who’s got the idea to make an unauthorized Michael Jackson documentary. There won’t be any music in it by Jackson.

Sony Music isn’t clearing any music rights for filmmakers who think they’ve got The Next Big Thing. That includes sleaze digger Ian Halperin, former Jackson partner Marc Schaffel, and Liza Minnelli‘s ex husband, David Gest.

Halperin’s so called documentary, which he sold to the TV Guide Channel of all places (that’s where we all go for serious docs, isn’t it?), airs June 25th– the anniversary of Jackson’s death. But it will free of Michael Jackson’s music, thank you. And full of interviews with people who are on the outer circle of Jackson’s world.

Schaffel, despite a piece yesterday on The Wrap, didn’t actually make a documentary. He sold footage he’d had to a Japanese outfit. They put together a film, just for Japan, and narrated in Japanese. It will play in 200 theaters around Japan starting June 25th, again, without music.

And then there’s David Gest‘s purported film. The word is that Gest’s effort is around four hours long and is mainly interviews with old movie stars–Gest’s forte–about Jackson. Gest may have footage from his old sketchy charity fundraisers at which Jackson occasionally appeared, plus footage from his own wedding to Liza Minnelli. Michael was the best man. It’s unclear if Minnelli would have any say in that footage. But again, no music.

There’s also a fourth film, called “The Untold Story of Neverland,” by Santa Barbara filmmaker Larry Nimmer. It was shown last February at the Santa Barbara Film Festival, but it didn’t get much attention. Nimmer makes courtroom films, and was given access to Neverland during Jackson’s 2005 child molestation trial. (Someone should tell The Wrap, by the way, that the trial was in 2005, not 2004. )

Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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