It hasn’t even been a year since the HBO documentary Leaving Neverland revealed the ugly truth about Michael Jackson, and apparently Graham King thinks it’s time for a movie about the one-time King of Pop. King has secured the rights to make a movie about Jackson from the late singer’s estate, and Oscar-nominated writer John Logan (The Aviator) has been tapped to write the script for GK Films.
Deadline reports that “the film isn’t intended to be a sanitized rendering of Jackson’s life” and “hears the estate will not be involved in the development of the screenplay.” While I’d love to give Logan and King the benefit of the doubt here, I’ll be surprised if this film really explores the credible allegations that Jackson was a pedophile who molested multiple children. According to Deadline, “the complexity of Jackson’s life is well known and will not be ignored in a film that will span his entire life.” Well, I’ll believe that when I see it.
King, of course, is the producer of Bohemian Rhapsody — a film that saw the surviving members of Queen directly involved in the development of the screenplay. And earlier this month, King teamed with Steven Spielberg, Stacey Snider and Paramount on a Bee Gees movie that has been approved by Barry Gibb and the Gibb estate. King won an Oscar for producing The Departed, so to see him reduced to making music biopics is a bit alarming, but hey, when they perform like Bohemian Rhapsody, which was a huge hit at the box office and picked up multiple Oscars, then more power to him. This project, however, leaves a bad taste in my mouth.
Deadline says that despite the controversies surrounding Jackson, “there is demonstrable evidence that there is a strong appetite for Jackson’s story and music, with a Broadway musical also currently in the works.” Listen, I love Michael Jackson’s music as much as the next guy, and I’ll continue to listen to it, but the cottage industry surrounding this guy is ridiculous and I’m surprised that someone of King’s stature would wade into these choppy waters.
If this Michael Jackson movie ends up being a warts-and-all depiction of his life, then I’ll eat my words, but something about this stinks, and I can’t wait to see which studio dares to pick up this project, which, yes, boasts the rights to Jackson’s biggest hits.
King and Logan previously worked together on The Aviator, which Deadline calls “another complex look at the life of a genius.” The only difference is, I don’t recall any allegations of sexual assault against children in The Aviator. And you can go ahead and spare me the “Michael had a tough childhood” reasoning, which is hardly an excuse for his alleged behavior.
For more about the allegations against Jackson, click here to watch the Leaving Neverland trailer, in which victims of abuse speak out against the singer.