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The Real Michael Jackson Special'The Real Michael Jackson' Documentary On BBC Two. 30-03-'20

Michael Jackson has become an even more controversial figure in death thanks to the release of 2019 documentary, 'Leaving Neverland'.

But a new BBC Two feature called 'The Real Michael Jackson' attempts to look at the life and career of music's most iconic figure in recent decades.

'The Real Michael Jackson' airs on BBC Two at 9pm. The special feature film will be run for 90 minutes.

Featuring guest interviews with the likes of Donny Osmond, J Randy Taraborrelli and Margo Jefferson, the special also features chats with Kevin Smith and Ron Zonen.

The one-off film is directed by Jacques Peretti, who has worked as a investigative journalist as well as being a published author.

Since 2019, the debate about Michael Jackson has intensified, and opinions about how he should be remembered are now more fractured than at any time since his death a decade ago.

In this one-off film, Jacques Peretti - who has spent much of his life analysing Jackson - goes back to Jackson's beginnings, charting his rise and fall and seeking a fuller picture of this complex, contradictory character by exploring the clues that were missed.

He investigates how Jackson become what he was, whether he manipulated his fame and the entertainment machine to conceal the truth and what the audience's part was in it all.

The special is a fascinating and thoughtful reappraisal of one of the world's most famous controversial artists that investigates what the public failed to see - or were willing to ignore.

Source: The Sun / Billie Jean

Michael Jackson Estate Donates $300,000 To Coronavirus Relief Efforts. 25-03-'20

The Estate Of Michael Jackson
The Estate Of Michael Jackson

The Michael Jackson Estate today announced that it is donating $300,000 to coronavirus response efforts to help three communities that have been severely impacted by the Covid 19 virus. Broadway Cares, Three Square Food Bank (Southern Nevada's largest hunger-relief organization) and MusicCares will each receive a $100,000 donation.

"This virus strikes at the heart of the communities we are close to. We learned today that the legendary Manu Dibango, ('Wanna Be Startin' Somethin') passed away from the virus. Other performers and support staff in music and on Broadway are sick or have been left without work and are facing an uncertain future. And in Las Vegas, which has been so welcoming to Michael Jackson, the entire city has been shut down leaving thousands of workers and their families devastated and without an income," said John Branca and John McClain, co-executors of the Estate of Michael Jackson.

"Michael's spirit of generosity and helping others during his lifetime is legendary. These donations are inspired by him," they concluded.

In New York, the Estate is answering the challenge made by more than 20 Broadway producers who are matching up to $1 million in donations, doubling the impact of contributions to Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS' COVID-19 Emergency Assistance Fund. Jackson loved attending Broadway performances and the Estate and its partner, Lia Vollack Productions, continue to look forward to welcoming audiences to MJ the Musical later this year.

"With every passing day that theaters remain dark, entertainment and performing arts professionals face unprecedented and immediate challenges," said Tom Viola, executive director Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS. "This incredibly generous donation from the Michael Jackson Estate will help ensure those onstage, backstage and behind the scenes get lifesaving health care, emergency financial assistance and counseling during and after this crisis."

In Las Vegas, the Estate's donation will provide 300,000 meals to the needy, and help to maintain Three Square Food Bank's supplies, the largest foodbank in Southern Nevada. Since opening in February 2013, 'Michael Jackson ONE', produced by Cirque du Soleil and the Estate of Michael Jackson, has been one of the most popular shows in Vegas. "Before the pandemic, 1 in 8 Southern Nevadans lived in a food-insecure household and that number will increase exponentially with the displacement of thousands of workers in our community. Thank you to the Estate of Michael Jackson for stepping up to help children, families, veterans and senior citizens who may need help now more than ever," Michelle Beck, Chief Development Officer.

The Recording Academy and MusiCares will support the music makers who Michael Jackson worked with and loved in a time where the industry is being challenged at every level from the virus.

Source: Variety / Billie Jean

Michael Jackson 'Predicted Coronavirus And That's Why He Wore A Facemask'. 25-03-'20

Michael JacksonThe late 'King of Pop's' former bodyguard Matt Fiddes has claimed that the star predicted a coronavirus-like pandemic, which is why he continued to wear a facemask despite being mocked for it.

Michael Jackson's former bodyguard claims he always wore a facemask because he predicted coronavirus.

The 'King of Pop', who tragically died in 2009 aged 50, is said to have foreseen a global virus pandemic like the one going on right now.

And his ex-bodyguard Matt Fiddes says that's why he always wore a facemask despite being mocked for it.

Brit Matt, who looked after the singer for a decade, said that while Michael was travelling the globe on tour, he realised that there was potential for a virus like COVID-19 to spread, and therefore took measures to prevent himself from ever catching it.

The 41-year-old told The Sun : "He knew that a natural disaster was always there. He was very aware and would always predict that we could be wiped out at any time. That a germ that could spread.

"So he would go through four countries in one day sometimes and he was on aeroplanes with people all the time."

Matt said he'd jokingly ask Michael not to wear the facemask because he was embarrassed about being pictured with him when he was wearing it.

He added: "He would say, 'Matt I can't get ill, I can't let my fans down. I've got concerts coming up. I'm on this earth for a reason. I mustn't damage my voice, I've got to stay healthy, I don't know who I'm going to encounter today, I don't know what I might pass on.'"

Matt says that if Michael were alive today he'd tell people "I told you so".

He also said the star would be frustrated that nobody was listening to him because "people didn't take him seriously."

Matt also insisted that Michael wasn't a germophobe, and simply wanted to protect his voice so that he never disappointed his fans.

The coronavirus pandemic has claimed hundreds of lives in the UK and thousands around the world.

Source: Mirror / Billie Jean

The Estate Of Michael Jackson
The Estate Of Michael Jackson

HBO VS Michael Jackson Estate Delayed Due To Coronavirus. 24-03-'20

The lawsuit between HBO and the Michael Jackson Estate has been delayed of 60 days due to the Coronavirus COVID-19.

The California's chief of Justice Tani G. Cantil-Sakauye made a statement on Monday (March 23) that all courthouses will be cut accesses to allow the social distancing to fight against the spread of the coronavirus.

Therefore there will be a 60 day delay for all courts in California's 58 counties.

To be continued…

Source: Los Angeles Times / Billie Jean

Lionel Richie Thinks It's Time To Bring Back 'We Are The World' For Coronavirus Victims. 23-03-'20

Lione RichieIn March 1985, Lionel Richie, Michael Jackson, Cyndi Lauper, Kenny Rogers, Diana Ross and more than 40 other A-list recording artists came together to sing 'We Are The World'. The cause: African famine. The sales: $63 million. The chorus: "There's a choice we're making, we're saving our own lives."

Those words became part of a unifying, legendary anthem. Because of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, and the 35th anniversary of the release of the hit song, that chorus is on Richie's mind today. He wrote the song with Jackson.

"That line," Richie, 70, tells People exclusively, "came about as Michael and I were sitting there talking. We said, you can either say, 'I'm saving my life' or 'We're saving our lives.' 'We Are The World' is a statement we wanted to make. What do we do to save our own?"

Richie, like many Americans, is sheltering in place with his loved ones. "We are all hunkered down. Family is the key to this. It is the soother," he says.

While at home, also like many Americans, Richie is thinking about the state of the world. Today he's also thinking about the passing of his friend and mentor Kenny Rogers. "I must admit, every once in a while, God has to do something to get us back on track," he says.

The American Idol judge acknowledges we have been living in such a divisive time. "We were back to there are 'those people' and 'those people'. If you find yourself saying 'those people' then you are not thinking properly," Richie says.

This moment of crisis has made him stop — and step back for a wider look. "What happened in China, in Europe, it came here. So if we don't save our brothers there, it's going to come home. It's all of us. All of us are in this together," he says.

Ten years ago, a version of 'We Are The World' was released to assist earthquake victims in Haiti. This month, 35 years after the song's release, Richie is contemplating the unity music can bring. (Not to mention the badly needed charity funds.)

"Two weeks ago, we said we didn't want to do too much [about the song] because this is not the time to sell an anniversary. But the message is so clear," he says.

Richie says that since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, he has thought about writing a different song. (A group recording in one place together like for the 1985 song is obviously not possible during shelter-in-place orders and self-isolation.) "But every time I try and write another message, I write those same words," he says.

Source: People / Billie Jean

Heal The WorldMichael Jackson Fans Come Together To 'Heal The World'. 23-03-'20

"There are so many things in the world today that are tragic and unexplainable. The most current is coronavirus that has taken many lives...But this is just not a problem for China. This is a problem for the entire world. This is why we all need to come together as one because every life that's lost is a loved one no matter where they fall in the world. But if we come together as one, we can fight this horrible virus and harness it and stop it from spreading," says singer Jermaine Jackson, brother of the late pop idol Michael Jackson, at the beginning of a new music video for 'Heal The World'.

The music video released Friday (February 20), dedicated to people everywhere who are fighting against the COVID-19 outbreak, was a collective effort by Michael Jackson fans around the globe. Launched by the Michael Jackson Chinese fan club, more than 100 fans, including a score of fans from countries like the US, Spain, Brazil, Russia and India sang in the video.

US director and choreographer Vincent Paterson, who has collaborated with Jackson and Madonna on various projects, shared a poster for the video on Facebook.

"Rene Lamontagne [Paterson's husband] and I were truly moved by the spirit of love...not about singing great, but about love," he wrote.

Sing for Wuhan

Since the outbreak of COVID-19 in Wuhan in Central China's Hubei Province, Chinese Michael Jackson fans have been proactively helping the city by organizing online donations and sending as many as six tons of much needed disinfectant supplies to hospitals in the city. In addition to donations, they have also shown their support and love through a "Singing for Healing" campaign launched in early February.

"We know Michael [Jackson] would always reach out his hand to help during any difficult time and crisis. He was not just an entertainer, but also an artist with a big heart, a humanitarian...So we decided to carry on his legacy and organize an online mass singing performance - a cover of his most-loved anthem 'Heal The World'," Zhang Rui, president of the Michael Jackson Chinese fan club and better known as Keen, told the Global Times on Sunday (February 22).

In addition to 'Heal The World', Zhang also invited eight professional singers to sing 'Smile' as part of the campaign. The Charlie Chaplin classic was among Jackson's favorite tunes, and he recorded his own version for his 1995 album 'HIStory'.

"We smile, not because of ignorance. We choose to brave adversity with a positive attitude. Let meaning of life bloom in smiles," reads an article posted on the Michael Jackson Chinese fan club's WeChat blog.

Chinese singer Ding Chen, who goes by the stage name Tinckson, is one of the eight professional singers. He has been quarantined at home in Wuhan for nearly two months now.

"As a Wuhan resident, staying in is probably the best contribution I can make to fighting the virus. I haven't felt fear during this period. Compared to people who have been on the frontlines, I have nothing to be afraid of... I will cherish life more and try to better learn when to hold fast, when to let go and always face life with optimism," said Tinckson.


Sing for the world

Hundreds of fans applied to join the performance of 'Heal The World'. One-by-one online auditions and back-and-forth communications with the selected singers took up a lot of time. Most of the fans who did participate were amateurs who didn't have access to studios or professional recording equipment, as such post-production turned out to be an even greater challenge since the production team received audio tracks of various quality.

"Song producer Kenny Saxton had to tune and mix hundreds of vocal tracks, and music video editor Liu Zhe also needed to select, edit and put together hundreds of video clips," said Zhang.

As the virus continues to spread worldwide, the COVID-19 outbreak has been characterized as a pandemic. The purpose of the campaign has shifted from singing for Wuhan to singing for the world.

"Now it's really time for us to heal the world." I feel sadder and more worried day by day. "I believe it is very significant for this project to come out at this time since it can send a message of unity and love to the whole world," said Zhang.

Coming together

As the pandemic worsens in countries around the globe, xenophobia and discrimination against Chinese has been on the rise. There have been increased reports of racist attacks targeting Chinese students overseas, ignoring fundamentals of the science and calling COVID-19 the "Chinese virus".

"Any bias and discrimination that emerges amid the pandemic is stupid, meaningless and shameful. We hope to use our campaign and songs to call for love, humanity, dedication and unity, which was also Jackson's intention while writing the song ['Heal The World',]," said Zhang.

Zhang also noted that there is a universality to Jackson's songs that people can empathize with despite differences in nationality or race.

"Rather than merely considering music as a means of entertainment, we hope the images and the music in the video can wake up the kindness, nobility and desire to take action in people's hearts. Especially during such a difficult time, music should be a universal language," he added.

Source: Global Times / Billie Jean

King of ShopKing Of Shop: Update About Coronavirus. 21-03-'20

"We're one global family". This is a message from King of Shop, the fan based Michael Jackson online store during this difficult time the world is experiencing.

Coronavirus COVD-19 has affected the world but King of Shop promises to keep their [virtual] doors open to bring a bit of happiness to the Michael Jackson community.

Also they are giving away a free "I Heart MJ" wristband with all orders until the end of April.

King of Shop's aim is to serve the fans around the world of new & vintage official Michael Jackson merchandise and related items. King of Shop also tries its best to work closely with the official bodies to get the best of the best in terms of new official Michael Jackson merchandise.

Go to the King of Shop website.

Source: King Of Shop / Billie Jean

Kenny RogersKenny Rogers Dies At 81. 21-03-'20

Vocalist Kenny Rogers, who dominated the pop and country charts in the 1970s and 1980s with a string of sleekly tailored hits and won three Grammys, has died. He was 81. Rogers "passed away peacefully at home from natural causes under the care of hospice and surrounded by his family," a representative for the singer said in a statement. Due to the national COVID-19 emergency, the family is planning a small private service at this time with a public memorial planned for a later date.

Rogers, who also enjoyed success in partnership with Dolly Parton, had announced a farewell tour in 2015 but had continued performing until 2017.

The Houston-born singer, known for his trademark husky voice and silver beard, sold tens of millions of records.

He also gained fame as an actor, starring in TV movies based on 'The Gambler' and other songs, making him a superstar in the 70s and 80s.

However, despite his crossover success, he always preferred to be thought of as a country singer.

Michael Jackson and Kenny Rogers met few times. They first recorded a song together in 1981 called 'Going Back To Alabama' and Kenny was also part of 'We Are The World' in 1985.

Source: Variety / Billie Jean

The Michael Jackson Estate Releases For Free On YouTube Bad & Dangerous Tours To Support Fans During Coronavirus Social Distancing. 20-03-'20

Bad and Dangerous TourFinally the Michael Jackson Estate has reacted to the outbreak of the coronavirus COVID-19. The virus is shaking the world with many people losing their lives, countries on lock down, travelling banned and a massive financial disturbance bounced to shake people's life.

While governments around the world have called for Social Distancing or isolation, the Estate has released on YouTube the Bad Tour and Dangerous Tour for a limited time.

While you're staying safe, Michael's Live in Bucharest and Live at Wembley Stadium concerts are back up on his YouTube channel for a limited time only.

This will give a great entertainment to all of us stuck at home. Self-isolation is the best way to fight the propagation of the virus around your community and this move from the Estate is perfect!

So enjoy Michael and lets forget for few hours this difficult time and let the world biggest Entertainer in the world to make is dream again!

Look here at YouTube.

Source: MJ Vibe / Billie Jean

Thriller Live'Thriller Live' Ended Sooner Due To Coronavirus. 19-03-'20

'Thriller Live' in London has closed its doors sooner than expected due to coronavirus.

Following the closure of West End theatres, we are sad to announce that we performed our last moonwalk at the Lyric theatre on Sunday 15 March 2020.

We would like to thank everyone who has worked on the show; the cast, band, crew, creative team, head office, freelance contributors and theatre staff past and present. We have the BEST team in the world.

We've loved sharing the music and magic of MJ in London and we will keep the legacy alive on tour.

Finally a MASSIVE thanks to all you Dancing Machines, we just can't stop loving you ❤️

Ticket holders please contact your point of purchase. ...

Source: Thriller Live / Billie Jean

Music Streaming Is A Key Way To Make Money, But It's Radio Bringing In Money For The 'King Of Pop'.

Music StreamingMichael Jackson currently sits on top of Forbes' list of 2019s most paid dead celebrities list, even after he is long gone. This is the seventh year he has remained on top of this list (released in November) and the ninth time after his death in October 2009.

In 2019, Jackson's estate and the music industry raked in $60 million for the dead pop star, taking his posthumous earnings to about $2.46 billion. Jackson's estate is run by his former attorney, John Branca. Elvis Presley sits next to Michael Jackson as the second highest paid dead musician with posthumous earnings of $530 million in 2019.

The bulk of what Jackson's earnings in death can be attributed to the sales of the stakes he owns in two big music publishing companies. In 1981, Jackson was with Paul McCartney where they worked together on songs like 'Say Say Say'. The pair discussed music and how buying rights to other songwriter's songs could earn them royalties. Michael Jackson jokingly said he is going to buy the Beatles' back catalogue. Interestingly, he did that years later when he bought ATV Music and the whole Lennon-McCartney catalog, worth about $47.5 million. McCartney wasn't happy about this but Jackson told him that it is nothing but "business".

Sony and ATV eventually formed a merger, becoming the world's largest music publishing company. Michael Jackson's stake in the Sony/ATV business was about 50% and this was sold for $70 million, which is 15 times more than his original investment. Two years after this, Sony paid Jackson's estate $287.5 million to acquire the 9% stake he has in the EMI Music Publishing company. The Sony/ATV and the EMI deal brought in over $1 billion to Jackson's estate.

Jackson, even in death, has songs that still remain highly lucrative. In January BMI extended the 41 year old deal with Jackson's estate, to continue to represent his back catalogue. The company will also continue to be the sole collector of Jackson's royalties from TV, radio and internet broadcasts.

"The deal Jackson brokered with BMI goes to show how important back catalogue is to radio, which appears to be the biggest source of income any song writer could ever earn on his royalties," says Barry Massarky, an economist who is a specialist in music catalogue valuation.

"It is a remarkable thing that we now talk about streaming, music downloads and so on, but when it comes to streaming for a large base, pop, R&B/urban music seems to be ruling. According to Massarky, most commercial radio listeners in the United States are older folks, the younger folks have moved towards streaming online."

According to Massarky, the deal Jackson had with BMI was particularly valuable to BMI because the trends in the radio industry; more than 55% of the airplay music in the United States are classified as songs that are not current, which are also referred to as "golden" music. This means that radio stations are gravitating towards the older demographic, playing older inventory of music.

While radio remains the driving force behind Jackson's back catalogue's value, he is still very popular on most streaming services. With over 13 million followers on Spotify, which is way more than what contemporary artists like Future and J.Cole have. Monthly, he ranks about 101st with about 21 million listeners.

Not only has Michael Jackson enjoyed lucrative posthumous careers, there are also stars like Whitney Houston, Bob Marley, John Lennon, Amy Whitehouse, David Bowie and Price. All these artists have enjoyed radio airplay, streaming and special releases which have helped to contribute to their posthumous wealthy estates.

Source: Female First / Billie Jean

Michael Jackson Items And Signed Items On Auction. 18-03-'20

Gotta Have Rock and Roll is back with a new auction including a dozen items wore by Michael Jackson or signed by the man (or as stated).

The items are on auction online from March 25 to April 3, 2020 on the Auction house website.

Bid now and for more information, click here.

Items such a Military-style Jacket by Tompkins and Bush, few owned and worn Fedora, few aviator sunglasses, a Bellhop Uniform or leather belt and many signed items such as CDs, box sets, photos but also some tour merchandise items such as passes or T-shirts from the Dangerous Tour.

MJ Memorabilia
Gotta Have Rock and Roll is back with items of MJ wore or signed by the man.

Source: Gotta Have Rock and Roll / Billie Jean

Ben Blu-ray Cover'Ben' DVD And Blu-ray Is Released. 17-03-'20

The DVD and Blu-ray 'Ben' is released in France by ESC Editions & Distribution. 'Ben' is a film about a young boy and his pet rat, 'Ben'. The film is a sequel to the 1971 film Willard.

If 'Ben's Blu-ray with the flagship title of Michael Jackson's solo career at Motown has already been released in Blu-ray in the US May 16, 2017, it has never been released in France.

For the record, be aware that the last exploits of this film were made from the best copy of existing archive because it seems that nobody could get their hands on the original.

'Ben's Blu-ray was also released in Japan in 2017 but still in a form not compatible with European readers. Only its Japanese DVD version was compatible with our DVD players. It then offered audio standards such as Dolby Surround, Dolby Digital 5.1, DTS Digital Surround and PCM.

Order the Blu-ray here at ESC Distribution.

Source: ESC Distribution / Billie Jean

MJ One'MJ ONE' Reduces The Number Of Shows Due To Coronavirus. 13-03-'20

Coronavirus has affected everyone on the planet. More and more people worldwide are becoming infected with the coronavirus. The virus is an indispensable part of the news.

While all Broadway shows in New York have been suspended until April 12, Las Vegas is also hit by the effect of the virus!

Cirque du Soleil has reduced the number of shows on the strip. Fridays and Saturdays used to have 2 shows a night and have been reduced to only one a night. 'MJ ONE' is part of the reduced schedule.

With flights from Europe banned by President Trump (except from the UK), the number of tourists and visitors will drop considerably in the next few days and while many countries have started to ban any gathering over 500 people, it seems just a question of time before all shows in Las Vegas to be cancelled. Many artists and residencies have already been postponed.

Source: MJ Vibe / Billie Jean

Neverland RanchNeverland Ranch Is Back On Sale! 12-03-'20

Last month, it was announced that the former home of Michael Jackson called 'Neverland Ranch' and now called 'Sycamore Valley Ranch' was removed from the listing of properties on sale from different Estate Agents.

However, today, the property is back on the market with the selling price of 2019 of $31 million.

Suzanne Perkins Estate agent has relisted the property on their website today emphasizing on the fact that tour will be only given to those who can provide a financial statement background letter to prove they can purchased the property.

Sorry fans, the future of the once home of Michael Jackson is still unsure!

Source: MJ Vibe / Billie Jean

Discounts For Groups Of Ten Or More At The Broadway Show. 06-03-'20

MJ Online Team informs us that a special page has been created so that fan groups starting at 10 can benefit from discounts on tickets for the Broadway show that will take place from July 10, 2020.

You can access this page here.

You will find a contact email as well as a phone number to call for any reservation or simple question to ask.

Source: MJ France / Billie Jean

'For The Love Of A Glove' Has Been Extended At The Carl Sagan & Ann Druyan Theater. 02-03-'20

For The Love Of A Glove MusicalJulien Nitzberg's 'For The Love A Glove, An Unauthorized Musical Fable About Michael Jackson As Told By His Glove' has extended its inaugural run through Sunday, March 22 at the Carl Sagan & Ann Druyan Theater on the ground floor of the Center For Inquiry (CFI-West) 2535 W. Temple Street at Rampart, adjacent to Hollywood and DTLA. Tickets: www.fortheloveofaglove.com.

'For The Love A Glove' opened January 25 starring Jerry Minor, (Daily Show correspondent, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, Dr. Martin Luther King in Netflix's Historical Roasts, SNL) as Michael Jackson's glove THRHIL-LHA, and Eric B. Anthony (The Lion King on Broadway) as Michael Jackson. As with the hit Broadway musicals AVENUE Q, and THE LION KING, the puppets and performers are equally visible in 'For The Love A Glove': not "Muppet-style" puppets but rather original, meticulously built Japanese Bunraku-inspired puppets designed by Robin Walsh and created with her associate puppet artists Adrian Rose Leonard and Ron Binion.

Realistic and close to life size, these 20 all-original works of art portray all members of the Jackson 5, Donny Osmond, Emmanuel Lewis, Corey Feldman and Bubbles the Chimp. Supporting cast includes Andrew Ableson (The Polar Express, Will & Grace), Ogie Banks (Monster High, Spider-Man TV), Trécey Dory (Wallis Studio Ensemble, Universal Studios Hollywood), Daniel Gaither (MADtv, Groundlings), Mark Jacobson (9-1-1, The Resident, Speechless), Pip Lilly (Second City Touring Company, Improv Olympic), Justin Anthony Long (Mutt House, Joseph & The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat), Daniel Mills (Invisible, Four Horesmen of the Funkpocalypse), Suzanne Nichols (My Name is Eartha, But You May Call Me Miss Kitty!) Terra Strong (Conversations in LA). Casting by Victoria Hoffman. Composers are Nicole Morier, Drew Erickson and Max Townsley; Christopher Moscatiello is Musical Director. Choreographers are Cris Judd and Bryan Anthony, both of whom danced with Jackson. Show producers are Leigh R. Crawford, Tony Jones (who worked closely with The Jackson 5), Julien Nitzberg, Sam Sarkar, Betsy Zajko, and Burk Zanft, the sole investor.

Source: Broadway World / Billie Jean

First Look: Set Design Unveiled For Michael Jackson Broadway Musical 'MJ'. 02-03-'20

The complete creative team also has been announced for the upcoming bio-musical, which begins previews July 6 at the Neil Simon Theatre ahead of an Aug. 13 opening.

A densely industrial city block full of fire escapes and neons, a place that looks suspended in the imagination between Times Square and Tokyo, will form one of the principal settings for MJ, the upcoming Broadway musical inspired by the life and artistry of Michael Jackson. The Hollywood Reporter was given an exclusive first look at the work of scenic designer Derek McLane.

"The majority of the story is set inside a spacious, industrial dance rehearsal studio, but throughout the musical we find ourselves repeatedly transported into Michael's mind — his memories and dreams," said McLane in a statement. "The alternating between dream sequences and reality gives us the chance to repeatedly surprise the audience."

Lia Vollack Productions and The Michael Jackson Estate today also confirmed the full creative team for the show, which will star previously announced lead Ephraim Sykes in the title role.

In addition to McLane, a Tony Award winner for 33 Variations and a two-time Emmy winner for the 2014 Oscars telecast and 2017's 'Hairspray Live!', the team includes multiple award winners Natasha Katz (lighting), Paul Tazewell (costumes), Gareth Owen (sound), Peter Nigrini (projections) and Charles LaPointe (hair and wigs).

David Holcenberg will serve as music supervisor, also sharing orchestration and arrangement duties with recent Tony winner Jason Michael Webb, who will be the production's music director.

MJ Musical
Previews for MJ are scheduled to begin July 6 at Broadway's Neil Simon Theatre, ahead of an Aug. 13 official opening.

The show's book is by Lynn Nottage, who won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama for her plays Ruined and Sweat, while direction and choreography are by Christopher Wheeldon, who made a successful transition from the ballet world into musical theater in 2015 with 'An American In Paris', winning a Tony for his exhilarating dance storytelling.

Few details are known about the show at this point, other than the narrative frame being pegged to the intensive rehearsal period for Jackson's 1992 Dangerous tour, widely considered the height of his reign as the 'King of Pop'. It remains unclear to what extent, if any, the musical will address the controversies surrounding child sexual abuse allegations that clouded the final decades of Jackson's life and have continued since his death in 2009.

"What I would say about the show is that Lynn Nottage and Christopher Wheeldon are really unique and brilliant theater artists and I think that what we have done for as long as there has been theater is told stories about all kinds of provocative individuals," lead producer Vollack told THR in an interview late last year. "Michael Jackson was a figure in our history who has been dead for 10 years, who had a massive impact on music and dance, on how we view celebrity and race."

Alongside Sykes, coming off his Tony-nominated turn in 'Ain't Too Proud: The Life And Times Of The Temptations', the MJ cast will include Quentin Earl Darrington, Whitney Bashor, Gabriel Ruiz, Antoine L. Smith, Joey Sorge, Darius Barnes, Raymond Baynard, Coral Dolphin, John Edwards, Ayana George, Kali May Grinder, Apollo Levine, Ryan VanDenBoom, Lamont Walker II, Naomi C. Walley and Zelig Williams.

Source: The Hollywood Reporter / Billie Jean

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