Docs That Rock

The Fate of the last Michael Jackson Footage

jacksonlive Michael Jackson was being filmed during preparations for his upcoming concerts at London’s O2 arena. With Jackson’s death, what’s going to happen to that footage?

According to NBC’s Dateline, once executives involved in organizing Jackson’s upcoming shows learned of his death, they met at Staples Center in Los Angeles (site of Jackson’s final rehearsal) and secured all of the performance rehearsal footage. AEG Live the giant concert promotion firm who were underwriting the project, has control of it. They were planning to release a DVD and companion album about Jackson’s comeback tour.

Predictably, there is a lot of haze about what’s going to happen with the footage, almost as much haze as the rehearsals themselves. (Some reports said that Jackson was dutifully preparing for his London shows; other articles said he barely had shown up for practices these past few months.) And its not known whether the footage is just Jackson on stage or being followed verite style throughout the preparations for the show. Also, the video in question may just be footage from the last rehearsal, the night before Jackson died (the LA Times has details of that night from a variety of entertainment executives and Jackson cohorts who were there.) TheWrap did report that it was recorded in “multi-camera, high-definition video and multi-track audio.”

Some reports have speculated that the footage could cut together and exclusively shown as a doc at the London O2 arena, to avoid large scale rebates to fans who bought tickets to the 50 Jackson shows. Or maybe it will be rushed to create a theatrical film. Or even sold to television. But that seems to be the most valuable unreleased footage in the world right now.

UPDATE: A good friend with vast experience in rights and clearances reminds me of a vital point about this footage: although AEG has captured MJ’s last rehearsals, they probably only own the footage, not the music rights. If MJ lip synced at rehearsals, the underlying recorded music needs to be cleared with Sony. And if MJ sang anything live, it’s likely that MJ’s contract stipulates that Sony owns those as well. With money-losing music labels seeking maximum fees for licenses plus the Jackson estate’s web of attorneys, he predicts “this footage will never see the light of day.”

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June 29, 2009 - Posted by | Uncategorized |

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