Home Television Michael Jackson: ABC Cut 30 Minutes from Spike Lee Doc, Including Sensual...

Ok, so no one bothered to send the actual full version of Spike Lee’s “Bad 25” documentary. The 90 minute version aired on ABC on Thanksgiving night. On Friday morning, the DVD of the complete movie arrived (thanks to the Critics Choice Awards). It clocks in at 123 minutes, at least 30 minutes longer than the ABC version.

And seeing it, I now understand what ABC did: they chopped this thing up and took out a lot of really great stuff. Among the missing items: all of the interviews with Stevie Wonder, including the legend at the piano and reminiscing about recording with Jackson; a very young Sheryl Crow in 1987 on tour with Michael, performing a sensual dance to “I Just Can’t Stop Loving You” and Sheryl’s racy recollection; attorney John Branca insisting that he and Michael did not steal the Beatles catalog out from under Paul McCartney; and many instances of Michael directing his videos or recordings. There’s also one interesting moment at 1:05 in which it’s clear that Michael is healing unselfish-consciously from facial surgery on his cheeks and nose.

Also missing from the ABC version but on the DVD is a fun stretch showcasing a bunch of celebrities who were filmed for Jackson’s “Liberian Girl” video.

Spike Lee also included one five second piece of video of Frank DiLeo right at the beginning of “Bad25,” but he never mentions him again as the guiding force behind “Bad” or the tour that followed. Too bad considering there are a number of people featured who didn’t even know Michael Jackson, including Justin Bieber (I have no idea what he’s doing or what he’s talking about) and someone named Joseph Vogel, who’s credited as author of a book that’s just come out and has sold has badly as the Randall Sullivan book. I would rather have seen Randy Taraborelli, who at least is an expert on this part of Michael’s life.

Also, plenty of people, like Quincy Jones, are only shown in footage from the “Bad” era and not now. The fact that DiLeo died in 2011 wouldn’t have precluded his being in the film. There’s a lot of archival interview footage.

Well, it’s too bad. Who cuts Stevie Wonder out of a documentary, anyway? ABC should have just shown “Bad25” in its entirety. They cheated Michael’s fans and the audience at large.

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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.
24 replies to this post
  1. I’m from Oz & Bad 25 is showing here tomorrow night. I can’t wait & just hope it’s shown in its entirety. I am so thrilled to read all the comments above – not one is negative about Michael which is a pleasant change & everyone is very well educated on the facts. My congratulations & thanks to all of you – love it!! Pity I can’t say the same for the US media – still trying to dehumanise Michael, still feeding lies & innuendo to the manipulated, small, lazy minds & still promoting sensational crap & the greedy bottom feeders who write it – you should all be ashamed. You had better realise ‘… you can’t control the minds of those who know …’ Knowing, respecting & loving you Michael – always … mj

  2. Roger, as others here have said, please read Joe Vogel’s work before you dismiss him as “someone named Joseph Vogel”. Spike and the Estate chose Mr. Vogel to comment as he is most likely the only author who has researched and written a well-respected book on Michael’s music. Also, take the time to read Earth Song, Michael’s Opus, also by Vogel.

    As for ABC, the station slandered Michael in life, any reason to suspect ABC would cut him any slack in death? As these comments reflect, we are ALL looking forward to the release of the 2 hour 11 minute DVD.

    BTW, Sullivan and Terriborella are muckrakers who belong right up there with Martin Bashir; no self-respecting Michael Jackson supporters would give any of them the time of day and you shouldn’t waste your time either.

  3. Vogel is one of the best author on MJ, he has done a lot for MJ music in recent years, no wonder why the estate/spike included him

    maybe u should read some…

  4. I can’t wait until the DVD does come out. I would really like to see all 90 minutes of it. Boooo! to ABC station for not showing it. I’ll be ready to buy the DVD.

  5. LOL @ Taraborrelli as an MJ expert, he’s the original Randall Sullivan. The tabloid collector. Joe Vogel is a respected music journalist who has interviewed dozens of the people around Michael, he’s infinitely more relevant than some cheesy half assed hack like Taraborrelli and Spike Lee knows that.

    “There’s also one interesting moment at 1:05 in which it’s clear that Michael is healing unselfish-consciously from facial surgery on his cheeks and nose.”

    The stuff going on with his face there is actually known as the Malar Rash, which is a symptom of his discoid lupus. It was causing him huge problems as he’d just had the official diagnosis and was struggling to deal with it, it causes blister like rashes to appear across the face, which is why it was so red at the time.

  6. I agree. The chop job ABC did on Spike Lee’s “Bad 25 Michael Jackson Documentary” was a cultural crime.

    I understand that in many foreign countries (e.g. Germany, England Australia) around the world they have shown or are planning to show the entire documentary.

    I will be buying the DVD as soon as it becomes available.

  7. The document we saw was cut in half from the original 131 minutes. So we didn’t get to see about 65 minutes. The whole thing would have been nice if it wasn’t interrupted by commercials. It would take 4 hours to view.

  8. Thats what I thought they can show it everywhere else, but America, and the Stevie Wonder footage was awesome too.

    But I disagree with you about Joseph Vogel, unlike Sullivan he did RESEARCH for his book about Michael’s music and the role Frank DiLeo, Quincy Jones and Bruce Swedien and Rod Templeton played in it. The book is called “The Creative Life & Work of Michael Jackson,” I suggest you check it out before you lump him with a muckracker..

  9. “also one interesting moment at 1:05 in which it’s clear that Michael is healing unselfish-consciously from facial surgery on his cheeks and nose.”

    What?? On 1:05 in full version they show African footage and a part of the Ebony interview. There is nothing like what you are seeing there. And he didn’t do a surgery on his cheeks, for Christ’s sake!

    The focus of all your articles seems to be Frank Dileo, as if he was the central part of MJ’s life. With all respect, he wasn’t.

    And laughed out loud when you said you’d have preferred Taraborrelli over Vogel in a film devoted to MJ’s MUSIC. Really? Roger, really? Ahahaha. I can’t believe you haven’t even read Vogel’s outstanding work. How can one claim knowledge in things around MJ and yet not even know Vogel’s name?

  10. I was fine with your article until I saw your comments about Joel Vogel’s book. I just wanted to ask if you have ever read any of Mr. Vogel’s book’s? I would hardly compare any of them to Sullivan’s sloppy and regurgitated tabloid in book form! Vogel deals solely with Michael’s music and genius as an artist and not his personal life. That is probably the reason why Spike didn’t ask Taraborelli to be a part of this documentary and I glad he didn’t. All he wants to ever talk about is controversy and it makes me nauseous to always see him promoting himself as an MJ expert. This man is also good friends with Diane Dimond so I don’t pay much attention to what he has to say as he had made his fortune writing dirt and opinion about Michael.

    Also was it even necessary to say anything about any surgery Michael may have had? This is what I am tired of seeing and hearing people commenting about. The man was a genius. His music and his heart is all matters. If all the world’s media didn’t have Michael Jackson to talk about, what ever would you all have to do with your time?

  11. i agree with this article except for the Taraborelli coment,
    he’s no expert on Michael Jackson at all. Jo vogel actually is.
    Vogel does research, Taraborelli just makes things up as he goes along.

  12. I agree Justin shouldn’t be in there, guess it was to “connect to a younger generation”, but MJ doesn’t need that. He can easily connect with 9 year-olds just by letting them see him perform in clips. After watching TII, I walked behind a happy kid who had also seen the film and danced down the street, emulating MJ, moves and poses and all.

    Liberian girl is one of the funniest, sweetest MJ short films. It looks incredibly easy, but a lot of thinking and editing has gone into it, to allow for both the song and the guest celebrities to shine simultaneously.

    ABC shouldn’t have butchered the film. Sounds like a terrible thing to do.

  13. So why do you think they cut out such good stuff? Is a case of the American media establishment continuing to want to portray Michael in a negative light and leaving out that which might humanise him, such as those outakes you mentioned?

  14. It’s too bad that we didn’t get to see the entire film; however, I’m going to buy the documentary when it’s released.
    I’m sorry to hear that Joe Vogel’s book isn’t selling as well as it might. It’s an excellent, in-depth study of Michael Jackson’s music by an expert and shouldn’t be included in the same breath or sentence as Sullivan’s largely fictitious book about Jackson’s life.

  15. Rodger, why don’t you connect up with Spike Lee? Spike talked about why he had to used old footage of Quincy – they could never get their schedules to meet up for him to talk about the making of BAD as he did with Bruce and Greg, etc. Still, there is more than just a half hour missing from the special, I do hope you get the chance to go out and purchase the entire DVD when it arrives in February.

  16. Well, I suppose they were just too busy at trying to sabotage the whole project by showing Randall Sullivan’s media-trash “book” a few days before to really give the documentary the FULL concentration and attention it deserved and should have warranted! :-/

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