michael jackson biopic

Well…this is bound to be controversial, to say the least. Since musician biopics continue to be all the rage, there’s now a Michel Jackson biopic in the works from Bohemian Rhapsody producer Graham King. While a biopic of Jackson isn’t a bad idea on its own, this one comes with a pretty major caveat: it has the approval of Jackson’s estate.

That means two things: one is that the movie will be able to use Jackson’s songs. The other is that you can all but guarantee the film will sidestep the many controversies surrounding the late King of Pop’s life and career.

Michael Jackson was undeniably an incredibly talented artist, but he was also a troubled individual plagued by scandal. Sexual misconduct allegations involving minors surfaced during Jackson’s lifetime, and received a return to the spotlight last year with the wrenching, controversial documentary Leaving Neverland. Now, Jackson is getting the biopic treatment, and there’s almost no way to look at this as anything other than a potential mistake.

Deadline reports that John Logan is handling the script. Logan is responsible for scripts for The Aviator and Penny Dreadful, which indicates that the film could have a strong screenplay. Deadline also adds that the movie “isn’t intended to be a sanitized rendering of Jackson’s life” and that “the complexity of Jackson’s life is well known and will not be ignored in a film that will span his entire life, which ended with his tragic death in June 2009 at age 50.”

But here’s where things get complicated: this biopic has secured the rights to Jackson’s songs from Jackson’s estate. With that in mind, it’s highly likely that the estate has some say in the content of the film. And remember: that same estate brought a $100 million lawsuit against HBO for Leaving Neverland. It’s worth remembering here that despite the child sexual abuse accusations against Jackson, he was never convicted of a crime. One case ended with a settlement, the other ended in an acquittal. Still, you can’t help but wonder: just how flawed is this biopic willing to make Jackson appear? All musician biopics take certain liberties with their subjects, but any movie about Jackson is bound to arrive with extra baggage regarding its accuracy.

Beyond the question of accuracy, who do you even cast to play Jackson? The artist went through such a drastic physical transformation throughout the course of his life that it’s not going to be easy to pin down one particular actor. That said, actors have portrayed Jackson on-screen before. Flex Alexander played the singer in the 2004 TV movie Man in the Mirror: The Michael Jackson Story, and Wylie Draper played him in the miniseries The Jacksons: An American Dream. Actor Joseph Fiennes played the King of Pop in an episode of the series Urban Myths, but the episode was pulled in the wake of controversy over Feinnes, a white actor, playing Jackson. And Ephraim Sykes will be seen as Jackson in the upcoming Broadway musical MJ.

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