Living with Michael Jackson

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Published on 21st March 2017 by

Between May 2002 and January 2003 the legendary pop artist Michael Jackson granted unprecedented levels of access into his private life to the British television journalist Martin Bashir, who interviewed Jackson numerous times over an 8 month period, allowing him to stay at his Neverland Ranch home and follow him on his extravagant shopping trips. The resulting hour long documentary was aired in 2003 on ITV in the United Kingdom, and on ABC in the United States. It achieved astonishing viewing figures with 15 million viewers in the UK and 38 million in the US.

Bashir probed Michael on a number of topics including his changing appearance, his childhood and the abuse that he received at the hand of his father Joe Jackson, and his relationships with children. Bashir gets to meet Jackson’s own children, Paris and Prince, who were masked during the encounter. During filming the famous baby dangling incident occurred in Paris.

The documentary was damaging for Jackson, who was himself highly critical of Bashir for his editing and attempting to present a picture of him being a bad father and putting a lot of emphasis on his probing of child abuse allegations by being highly selective with the footage that he used. Jackson responded by releasing a rebuttal video, Take Two: The Footage You Were Never Meant To See, which is made up of material that Bashir omitted. It was aired as a Fox News special.

Also filmed at the same time was the Louis Theroux documentary Louis, Martin and Michael, which documents his attempts to gain access to Michael Jackson for an interview. In that film he meets Uri Geller, a friend of Jackson. Geller had warned Jackson against any participation with Theroux and instead suggested that he proceed with Bashir, advice which subsequently severely damaged their friendship.

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