The tale of the tape
In an attempt to give as much press to something that seriously doesn’t need any more, I, along with members of the Oracle staff, viewed ABC’s three-hour coverage of Michael Jackson on Monday. We watched with horror and delight, starting with Primetime Live: The Many Faces of Michael Jackson and ending with Living with Michael Jackson.
Since Mike Tyson’s on again/off again bout with Clifford Etienne will probably be a letdown anyway (if it goes on at all), Jackson’s tÃªte-Ã -tÃªte with Martin Bashir from Britain’s ITV posed the far more interesting match-up of the week. Boy, I didn’t have a clue what I was getting into.
The under card — Primetime Live: The Many Faces of Michael Jackson
8:00 – “And now the many faces of Michael Jackson,” Diane Sawyer says. Woo hoo!!
It’s wonderful to see reputable news people like Sawyer and Chris Wallace stoop to such absurdity as this. I hope I’ll get to the point in my career when I get paid gobs of money to talk about stories other people are covering.
8:04 — Can’t get enough shots of MJ dangling his baby son, Prince Michael II, off a balcony.
8:07 — First clip of the Jackson Five, way back when. Did the Jackson Five dress like the flyest pimps ever? I mean, butterfly collars, platforms, flower vests; those cats pulled out the whole nine. I can just imagine Tito walking down the street with a cane, saying “That trick betta have my money!”
8:10 — Did you ever notice how MJ’s father Joe looks a lot like Marlon Brando in the Godfather days? “Jackie, you can’t betray the family!” They could do a whole remake, with just the Jacksons. Jermaine could play Fredo. This needs to be done.
8:11 — Got to love TV: MJ says he’s only had two surgeries on his nose, then they come back with Dr. X saying something to refute it, with pictures and video to prove it. Of course Jackson lied, but now he’s defenseless. Also, shot No.2 of the baby dangling.
8:13 — A commercial is shown for a “Winter Storm Sale” at a Ford dealership. As if the idea of a winter storm in Florida is not inane enough, making money off a weather tragedy is despicable. How would Floridians feel if they had a “Hurricane Sale” in New York? To boot, they follow up with a plug for the documentary that comes up next, as if we’re not going to watch it.
8:17 — Associate Editor Michelle Demeter says Jacko looks like The Cure’s Robert Smith on crack. We all agree.
8:20 — Psychologist says Jackson has acted “odd” in recent years. Cue shot of dangling baby. Another plastic surgeon says Jackson has had so many surgeries that he has “barely a nose at all.” Ever notice how plastic surgeons never have plastic surgery, or are their surgeries just better?
8:23 — Count ’em, three more shots of the suspended baby. Jesus, I’m getting more nauseous every time they show that.
8:24 — They show a digital progression of Jacko if he hadn’t had any surgeries, and he’s the spitting image of Fred “Rerun” Berry.
8:27 — Every time they say the title of the program I can’t help but think of Man-E-Faces from He-Man. Inexplicable.
8:31 — Other Jacksons are asked about allegations that MJ abused children.
Jermaine: “He’s not sleeping with boys.”
Marlon: “I don’t see anything wrong with it.” Now can I get back to falling off the face of the earth?
8:33 — The family that sued Jackson received $15 million!! Holy crap! I’d go to bed with Jacko for 15 extra-large. Hell, I’d do it if he paid off my college loans.
8:35 — They scroll through the text of the settlement the parties signed. We see the words “scared,” “erections,” and “tongue.” I will now vomit vociferously. Utterly disgusting.
8:42 — Bashir is shown cozying up to Michael off camera. Nice impartial journalism there Marty.
8:55 — Bashir says they only used 20 percent of the footage for the documentary. What was left out? Cannibalism? War mongering? Is Saddam paying Jacko to distract the United States? I can’t wait for the DVD.
The Main Event – Living With Michael Jackson
In this corner, the challenger, hailing from Great Britain, a man who has interviewed Princess Di and au pair Louise Woodward, Martin “The Interviewer” Bashir!
And in this corner, the reigning champion, from the Neverland Ranch, a performer who has slain Rick James and Lionel Richie, and relegated his family to obscurity. The one and only, “The King of Pop,” Michael Jackson!
Let’s get ready to rumble!
9:02 — Another shot of the dangling baby accompanied by a voice-over by Barbara Walters, who introduces the show.
9:03 — “I spent eight months with Michael Jackson,” Bashir says. Eight months, and all he could get was “I love children.” Again, more good work by our man, Bashir.
9:04 — Love the techno background track. Got to hand it to those classy Brits.
9:06 — Michael talks about his daily routine, nothing out of the ordinary here. I think he sounds more and more like a ditzy girl. Editor in Chief Ryan Meehan counters with “more like that drunk girl at every party.”
9:08 — Freaky looking statues of Peter Pan and Hook decorate his house. Michael says, “I am Peter Pan.” “You are not the Pan,” Ruffio retorts.
9:11 — Jackson climbs a tree with the alacrity of a squirrel. All in the newsroom are baffled.
9:13 — Bashir asks about Joe Jackson beating the kids. Michael flinches, then nods.
Bashir senses a weak spot. “Did he use a belt?” “What else did he beat you with?” A devastating combo. Bashir gets Jacko to act like he thought the beatings were his fault.
9:16 — MJ comes back. “They says the abused abuse, but that’s not true.” Also, he lets his kids call him “Daddy,” something Joe never did.
9:18 — Cut to MJ rollin’ in Vegas in a white Ford Excursion limo, like the ones Nelly and 50 cent have. I expect more from Jacko. Like a tank decked out in Peter Pan paraphernalia. He’s rented seven suites at the Four Seasons. Cha-ching.
9:23 — Jacko, word for word: “When I’m bored, and I’m alone, I play with this thing.” Don’t worry; he’s talking about a video game.
9:26 — Bashir gets MJ to reveal that when they toured, he slept while the older Jackson boys would boink groupies. Trauma, anyone?
9:29 — Divulges that first girlfriend was Tatum O’Neal. This is particularly traumatizing — not to MJ, but to me. My favorite movie when I was a kid was The Bad News Bears, and I had the biggest crush on O’Neal, who was the pitcher. MJ tells that O’Neal tried to seduce him, but he covered his face because he was too shy, and that nothing happened. Thank God.
9:30 — Jacko used to get $200,000 checks monthly when he was 12. I will now run into oncoming traffic.
9:31 — The King of Pop goes shopping. This should be its own show. Watch as Michael Jackson drops $6 million on tacky gold furniture, gigantic Faberge eggs, and a gold sarcophagus. He pushes the diva meter up a few notches by just pointing at items and saying, “I want that one.” Please, let’s not get silly price tags involved. Meanwhile, the salesman is jumping out of his skin because his one percent commission should net him a cool 60 large.
9:55 — We finally see MJ’s kids, named Paris, Prince Michael I and Prince Michael II, who wear Mardi Gras style masks whenever in public. Nothing wrong with that. (Note: The big jump in entries was due to a brief sojourn to Fox for the Joe Millionaire finale.)
10:00 — Sports staff writer Thomas Carrigan says MJ “obviously sniffed paint chips as a child.” More techno, and another shot of the hanging baby.
10:05 — MJ in Berlin. Of course, he’s mobbed by fans, soccer style. One of the unexplained occurrences of the world is how Euros go nuts for Jacko.
10:06 — Michael drops an F-Bomb. Well, sort of, he spells it out, like any other well behaved 10-year-old. Meanwhile, he looks very much like guitarist James Iha from Smashing Pumpkins.
10:11 – MJ frantically feeds Prince Michael II, shaking the child vigorously. I can’t wait till 2025, when they have this kid on an episode of “World’s Most F—-d Up Kids.” You know it’s going to happen.
10:17 — Certified psycho. Bashir asks why he doesn’t just let the kids go to the zoo with a nanny and bodyguards. Michael insists they’re safer with him..
10:24 — Michael almost messes up his own award ceremony, with special guest Boris Becker, who smiles as if ordered to with a gun to his head.
10:35 — MJ is joined by 12-year-old Gavin, a cancer survivor. Voice-over from Bashir: “Michael’s friendship and support helped Gavin get through cancer.”
10:37 — “I’m just a kid at heart. I like being around them all the time,” Michael says. Yikes! “The most loving thing you can do is share a bed with someone,” he says while holding hands with Gavin. I will now pour bleach into my eyes. I don’t know how Bashir can sit there with a straight face.
10:45 — MJ says he’s only had two surgeries, both on his nose. But Bashir cuts the big man down. “Your nose and lips are thinner, the shape of your face, your chin — all different”
MJ: “I’ve evolved.”
10:50 — MJ says his ex-wife gave the kids to him as a present. “She knew I loved children. I used to walk around carrying baby dolls.” They have places with soft, padded walls for these kinds of people. Bashir asks if the mothers see the children, MJ says, “No …. They were gifts, the greatest gift.”
10:53 — Bashir lays on a consistent attack. He says, “you’re a 44-year-old man” for the 44th time tonight. MJ goes on to say he’s slept with many children including Macaulay and Kieran Culkin. But it was never sexual, he says.
“We would spend the night together, laughing, then wake up at dawn, and go in a hot air balloon in the morning.”
When Bashir asks MJ if he thinks there is anything wrong with it, MJ says no.
“You’ve never been where I have mentally.” I have a feeling no one has.
I have to say, Bashir had more to gain in the end than Jackson. Bashir’s now famous stateside, while Jackson now looks even crazier. Especially after umpteen shots of him dangling his son. But hey, Jackson’s music was and is still awesome, and the next time I hear “Billie Jean,” I’ll certainly be up and dancing.
Contact Andrew Pina at firstname.lastname@example.org