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Living with Michael Jackson

Living with Michael Jackson

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Living with Michael Jackson is a Granada Television
Granada Television
Granada Television is the ITV contractor for North West England. Based in Manchester since its inception, it is the only surviving original ITA franchisee from 1954 and is ITV's most successful....

 documentary, in which British journalist Martin Bashir
Martin Bashir
Martin Bashir is a British journalist and media personality, currently with NBC News as a contributor for its Dateline program, and an afternoon anchor for MSNBC, hosting Martin Bashir...

 interviewed Michael Jackson
Michael Jackson
Michael Joseph Jackson was an American recording artist, entertainer, and businessman. Referred to as the King of Pop, or by his initials MJ, Jackson is recognized as the most successful entertainer of all time by Guinness World Records...

 over a span of eight months, from May 2002 to January 2003. It was shown first in the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

 on ITV
ITV is the major commercial public service TV network in the United Kingdom. Launched in 1955 under the auspices of the Independent Television Authority to provide competition to the BBC, it is also the oldest commercial network in the UK...

 (as a Tonight
Tonight (TV series)
Tonight is a British television newsmagazine, produced by ITV Studios and ITN for the ITV network. Since 1999, Tonight replaced the long-running investigative series World in Action...

special) on 3 February 2003 and in the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 three days later on ABC
American Broadcasting Company
The American Broadcasting Company is an American commercial broadcasting television network. Created in 1943 from the former NBC Blue radio network, ABC is owned by The Walt Disney Company and is part of Disney-ABC Television Group. Its first broadcast on television was in 1948...

, introduced by Barbara Walters
Barbara Walters
Barbara Jill Walters is an American broadcast journalist, author, and television personality. She has hosted morning television shows , the television newsmagazine , former co-anchor of the ABC Evening News, and current contributor to ABC News.Walters was first known as a popular TV morning news...



Living with Michael Jackson begins at the Neverland Ranch
Neverland Ranch
Neverland Valley Ranch is a developed property in Santa Barbara County, California, most famous for being a home of American entertainer Michael Jackson from 1988 to 2005. Jackson named the property after Neverland, the fantasy island in the story of Peter Pan, a boy who never grows up...

, where Jackson and Bashir tour the estate's grounds and face off in a race car match. Later, he explains that he writes the songs by composing lyrics and not the music, because the music "will write itself." Upon being requested by Bashir, he demonstrates that through dancing, he becomes the physical embodiment of the music. Afterwards Jackson admits that the house's theme of Peter Pan
Peter Pan
Peter Pan is a character created by Scottish novelist and playwright J. M. Barrie . A mischievous boy who can fly and magically refuses to grow up, Peter Pan spends his never-ending childhood adventuring on the small island of Neverland as the leader of his gang the Lost Boys, interacting with...

 is so inspirational, because he feels he is Pan. They go out to the "Giving Tree," a tree in which Jackson gets inspiration to write his songs. While watching footage of the Jackson 5, he gets emotional upon recalling how his father Joe would watch his sons rehearse the dance steps with a belt in his hand. He states that he felt a deep fear of his father, and that that is why he never laid a hand on his children. Bashir notes that this must have left a deep impact on the young Michael.

After Neverland, Bashir followed him to the Four Seasons Hotel in Las Vegas
Las Vegas Strip
The Las Vegas Strip is an approximately stretch of Las Vegas Boulevard in Clark County, Nevada; adjacent to, but outside the city limits of Las Vegas proper. The Strip lies within the unincorporated townships of Paradise and Winchester...

. In Las Vegas, Jackson spoke about his love life, his changing appearance, and his children. When Bashir inquires if he had any girlfriends when he was young, Jackson recounts a time when one-time girlfriend Tatum O'Neal
Tatum O'Neal
Tatum Beatrice O'Neal is an American actress best known for her film work as a child actress in the 1970s. She is the youngest to win a competitive Academy Award, at the age of 10, which she won for her performance as Addie Loggins in Paper Moon opposite her father Ryan O'Neal...

 wanted to make love to him, but he backed down because he was not ready. Bashir and Jackson also visited a shopping center where Jackson reportedly spent over a million dollars in one store on furniture for a new house. The subject of his changing appearance is brought up, but an agitated Jackson denies deliberately bleaching his skin, getting implants in his cheeks, having a cleft put in his chin, having his lips enlarged, or getting his eyelids reconstructed, claiming that the media is ignorant of what they do not understand. Jackson mentions he suffered horrible bouts of acne
Acne is a general term used for acneiform eruptions. It is usually used as a synonym for acne vulgaris, but may also refer to:*Acne aestivalis*Acne conglobata*Acne cosmetica*Acne fulminans*Acne keloidalis nuchae*Acne mechanica...

 as a teenager, and his father would repeatedly insult him by making fun of his nose. Afterward, Bashir gets to meet the Jackson children Prince and Paris, who wore masks to conceal their appearance. Jackson then went to Berlin
Berlin is the capital city of Germany and is one of the 16 states of Germany. With a population of 3.45 million people, Berlin is Germany's largest city. It is the second most populous city proper and the seventh most populous urban area in the European Union...

, Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

. This is where the "baby dangling" incident occurred. Jackson also visited Berlin Zoo and a charity auction, and received a humanitarian award at the Bambi Awards.

Back in Neverland, Jackson reveals to Bashir that not only does he invite disadvantaged children to his ranch, he lets them stay in his bed while he sleeps on the floor. Gavin Arvizo is also interviewed and states that it was Jackson's support that helped him beat his bout with cancer
Cancer , known medically as a malignant neoplasm, is a large group of different diseases, all involving unregulated cell growth. In cancer, cells divide and grow uncontrollably, forming malignant tumors, and invade nearby parts of the body. The cancer may also spread to more distant parts of the...

. Jackson admits that sometimes when Gavin stayed with him, Jackson let him have the bed while he slept on the floor. When asked what he gets out of his involvement with children, the singer replies that he gains joy, because "my greatest inspiration comes from kids". After this, Bashir says he feels uneasy about what he views as an apparent obsession with children. He says that he will have to confront Jackson on certain areas of his life that he feels he had been less than honest.

During January 2003, Bashir meets with Jackson in Miami for the final interview and brings up the subject of his face. A visibly upset Jackson says that he has only had two operations on his nose in order to facilitate his singing, to which Bashir tries to ask how he looks so much different from when he was an adolescent. After the singer states that there is nothing wrong with plastic surgery, and that it was "not invented for Michael Jackson," Bashir comes to the conclusion that Jackson wanted to change his appearance as a result of his troubled youth and father's insults. When he asks about a comment Jackson's son Prince made that "I haven't got a mother," Jackson tells him that Deborah Rowe bore his two children as a gift for him, because he wanted to be a father so badly. On the subject of Blanket's mother, Jackson contradicts his earlier statement that he had Blanket with a woman with whom he had a relationship by stating that Blanket's mother was a surrogate mother and that they did not know each other. Bashir also repeatedly questions Jackson why he invites children into his room. Jackson defended himself stating that such activity is natural when the children are of close friends or family, and that "many children," including the Culkin family children (Macaulay
Macaulay Culkin
Macaulay Carson Culkin is an American actor. He became widely known for his portrayal of Kevin McCallister in Home Alone and Home Alone 2: Lost in New York. He is also known for his roles in Richie Rich, Uncle Buck, My Girl, The Pagemaster, and Party Monster...

 and Kieran) have slept in the same bed as him. Jackson strongly denied that there was any sexual motivation for this. During these defensive comments he also stated that he would allow his children to stay with his friends including Barry Gibb
Barry Gibb
Barry Alan Crompton Gibb, CBE , is a singer, songwriter and producer. He was born in the Isle of Man to English parents. With his brothers Robin and Maurice, he formed The Bee Gees, one of the most successful pop groups of all time. The trio got their start in Australia, and found their major...

, saying that they are "sweet people" and are not "Jack the Ripper
Jack the Ripper
"Jack the Ripper" is the best-known name given to an unidentified serial killer who was active in the largely impoverished areas in and around the Whitechapel district of London in 1888. The name originated in a letter, written by someone claiming to be the murderer, that was disseminated in the...

" Due to the confidentiality agreement, he refuses to talk about the 1993 allegations, but he reveals that he paid the accuser a settlement, since he "didn't want to go through a long, drawn-out affair, like O.J."

Legal concern

Responding to concern after the airing, Santa Barbara County District Attorney Thomas W. Sneddon Jr.
Thomas W. Sneddon Jr.
Thomas W. Sneddon Jr. was the district attorney of Santa Barbara County, California. He had 22 years experience as a District Attorney and 35 years experience in prosecution...

 said that, under California law, merely sleeping with a child, without "affirmative, offensive conduct," is not considered criminal.


Jackson felt betrayed by Bashir and complained that the film gives a distorted picture of his behaviour and conduct as a father. He claimed that Bashir, in the final version of his interview, used only that material which supported the negative view Bashir portrayed as holding towards Jackson. In response, Jackson and his personal cameraman released a rebuttal interview, which showed Bashir complimenting Jackson on his abilities as a father and grace under pressure, thus contradicting the journalist's previous statements.

Following the broadcast, several media personalities accused Bashir of yellow journalism
Yellow journalism
Yellow journalism or the yellow press is a type of journalism that presents little or no legitimate well-researched news and instead uses eye-catching headlines to sell more newspapers. Techniques may include exaggerations of news events, scandal-mongering, or sensationalism...

, claiming that he deliberately doctored the recordings in order to paint Jackson in an unflattering light, as well as emphasising the allegations of child molestation made against Jackson. The New York Times
The New York Times
The New York Times is an American daily newspaper founded and continuously published in New York City since 1851. The New York Times has won 106 Pulitzer Prizes, the most of any news organization...

called Bashir's journalism style "callous self-interest masked as sympathy."

Dieter Wiesner, the pop star's manager from 1996 to 2003, stated about the influence of Bashir's documentary on Michael Jackson:
Following Jackson's death in 2009, Bashir said on ABC News
ABC News
ABC News is the news gathering and broadcasting division of American broadcast television network ABC, a subsidiary of The Walt Disney Company...

 that Jackson "was never convicted of any crime, and I never saw any wrongdoing myself."

Rebuttal video

In an attempt to repair his image following the Bashir interview, Jackson released a second interview, called Take Two: The Footage You Were Never Meant to See (also referred to as "the rebuttal
In law, rebuttal is a form of evidence that is presented to contradict or nullify other evidence that has been presented by an adverse party. By analogy the same term is used in politics and public affairs to refer to the informal process by which statements, designed to refute or negate specific...

 video"). This was presented by Maury Povich
Maury Povich
Maurice Richard "Maury" Povich is an American TV talk show host who currently hosts his self-titled talk show Maury.-Personal background:...

 and contains material which Bashir omitted. It also features new interviews with people close to Jackson, such as his former wife Debbie Rowe
Debbie Rowe
Deborah Jeanne "Debbie" Rowe is an ex-wife of pop singer, Michael Jackson, and the mother of two of his children. She currently lives in Palmdale, California.-Early life:...

. In this interview, she claimed it was on her request that the children wore masks in public. She also pointed out that the concept of "sharing a bed" can be misunderstood: for example, she herself likes watching television in bed; when she has a visitor, often both watch television together in bed. It also contains interviews with Bashir giving much different opinions than he gave in past interviews as well as in the voice-overs. He is shown praising Jackson as a father as well as saying that he thinks it is wonderful that he allows children to come to Neverland, directly contradicting the journalist's previous statements that Neverland Ranch was a "dangerous place" for children.

The footage that they show in this documentary was filmed by Hamid Moslehi privately. He states that he was not "secretly" videotaping the interviews, as was popularly believed. He said Bashir knew they were also filming, but that Bashir probably did not know that when he told his camera crew to cut, that he was still filming.

The video has been shown in a Fox Network special.

Part of the footage was not aired because videographer Hamid Moslehi refused to hand it over, owing to a financial dispute with Jackson. It was found by police in a search of Moslehi's home in November 2003, and showed the accuser's family praising Jackson.


The UK airing had 15 million viewers, while 38 million watched the two hour special on ABC.


Shortly after Jackson's death, the documentary has been aired again on several occasions, but with the more controversial scenes excised.

External links