Thursday, June 20, 2024

Broadway’s Back Pt. 3: Pandemic Delay May Have Been Best Thing After All for “MJ: Michael Jackson Musical”


UPDATED “MJ: The Michael Jackson Musical” was supposed to open in the summer of 2020. When Broadway shut down in March 2020, “MJ” was not selling well. There were a lot of questions about the sustainability of the show after a critical and panned documentary about Jackson aired on HBO. A lot of clouds hung over Michael Jackson’s legacy.

UPDATED: The producers say they were very happy with the advance sale. 

And then came the pandemic. Now “MJ” will open this winter, a year and a half later. Ironically, the pandemic might have been the best thing that ever happened.

The documentary, “Leaving Neverland,” came and went in March 2019. The ratings weren’t great. And many lawsuits emerged. The documentary was widely discredited by fans. And the principals saw their cases against Jackson’s estate dismissed from court.

A lawsuit brought by the Jackson estate against HBO will go to court ordered arbitration. The arbitrator will certainly know about the dismissals of Wade Robson’s and Jimmy Safechuck’s cases.

This week, a court ruled for the Estate in a major tax case. The government said the Estate owed $700 million based on much was earned after Jackson died in 2009. They said he was worth that much at his death. The Estate argued Michael’s image and career were worth about $7 million in June 2009. The IRS said the number was over $1 billion. A final ruling was the amount of $4 million.

Time has been kind to the producers of “MJ.” They probably should have waited a couple of years anyway. But now “MJ” can open without a cloud over it. The musical will encompass Michael’s early life, childhood, the Jackson 5 and his life through “Thriller.” The musical will end with everyone singing “Billie Jean” and dancing out of the theater.

Sanitized? Yes. Who cares? Naysayers can beat it.

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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