Michael Jackson is one of the biggest names in the history of showbiz and pop culture, and his legacy continues to impact people even years after his death. ABC produced a two-hour TV special all about the King of Pop to hit the airwaves on May 24, but not everybody has been thrilled at the prospect of the event, called The Last Days of Michael Jackson. The estate of Michael Jackson has a problem with the special due to its alleged use of a copyrighted photo without permission. Here's what's happening.
The Last Days of Michael Jackson is not sponsored or approved by Jackson's estate, as the estate made explicitly clear in a statement regarding the ABC special. According to Michael Jackson's estate, ABC used a copyrighted photo and silhouette image that belongs to the estate in promotional material for the special, and ABC News removed the materials after estate attorneys indicated that the intellectual property rights were being infringed upon. Although the special had not yet aired at the time of Michael Jackson estate's release of their statement, they stated that they believe The Last Days of Michael Jackson to be "another crass and unauthorized attempt to exploit the life, music and image of Michael Jackson without respect for Michael's legacy, intellectual property rights or his children." Ouch.
The estate apparently released this statement after being told that ABC intended to use music, photos, artwork, logos, and other intellectual property for The Last Days of Michael Jackson. The incident was described as "disheartening" in the estate's statement. ABC News released a statement in response to what Michael Jackson's estate released. According to an ABC News spokesman (via Deadline), the Last Days of Michael Jackson documentary "does not infringe on his estate's rights" in its exploration of Michael Jackson's life, career, and legacy. The image that was removed (as referred to in the estate's statement) was taken down from promotional material "as a courtesy."
ABC went ahead with the special, which debuted on The Alphabet Network on May 24 at 8 p.m. ET. It's much too soon to say how many people decided to tune in for the two-hour special, but the odds are pretty good that The Last Days of Michael Jackson will score some solid ratings, and not just because most of the TV shows from the 2017-2018 TV season have already aired their finales. Michael Jackson is a legend of pop culture and his music is as beloved today as it ever was. People will always be interested in Michael Jackson, and the ABC special may be a big hit.
Only time will tell how many people tuned in to The Last Days of Michael Jackson, and we'll never know how many viewers were or were not turned off from watching by the objections from Michael Jackson's estate. For what you can watch on the small screen now and in the not-too-distant future, swing by our summer TV premiere guide, our 2018 Netflix premiere schedule, and our 2018 Amazon Prime rundown. For an example of Michael Jackson's music being used to perfection, check out Stranger Things Season 2's "Thriller" trailer.