One of the greatest entertainers of the modern era - and certainly one who inspired the most insane headlines - Michael Jackson never lacked for curiosity during his life, so it's no surprise that creative minds are tapping into his story for future projects. One of those minds belongs to J.J. Abrams, whose Bad Robot Productions is teaming up with PBS talk show host and author Tavis Smiley for an event series that will look at the final months before Jackson's death in June 2009.
The drama will take its name and subject matter from the upcoming book Before You Judge Me: The Triumph and Tragedy of Michael Jackson's Last Days, the latest written work from Tavis Smiley and David Ruiz; it will be released this week through Little Brown and Co. Rather than delivering something more interview-based and objective, the book is a novelized take on the musician's hectic days, both the good ones and the bad ones, that preceded his untimely death. Understandably, a big part of that character exploration will center on the massive problems and pressures he suffered as one of the world's most popular people, having earned a level of fame that made it impossible for him to live a normal life.
Because the deal for Before You Judge Me was just made, many further details haven't been worked out yet. At this point, the project still hasn't been shopped around, but it's expected to be sent to any kind of TV outlet, from broadcast networks to streaming services, according to THR. This is ripe material for FX, which recently received acclaim for its own fictionalized take on reality with The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story, though it could also be a major score for a network where music is welcomed, such as MTV, or even at Fox for a post-Empire slot.
The event series will be scripted by Tavis Smiley, a former contestant on Dancing with the Stars, who worked with J.J. Abrams and Bad Robot (along with WBTV) last year on one of the author's many other books, Death of a King: The Real Story of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s Final Year. Can you see a trend here? As long as this latest show doesn't come close to resembling Gus Van Sant's Last Days, the plotless fictionalization of how Kurt Cobain may have spent his time before death, I see no reason to tell Before You Judge Me to beat it. (Michael Jacks-pun intended.)
Just in the past year, we've seen a crazy road trip movie get produced that starred Joe Fiennes as Michael Jackson, and then there was the super popular script about Jackson's pet chimp Bubbles that got picked up to become a feature some months back. And I'm interested in seeing more sides of the Grammy winner's life brought to the small screen in the future. So here's hoping Before You Judge Me is great enough to keep the pop star's influence on pop culture strong.