Rolling out on channel BB2 in the UK this evening at 9PM is a new one-off, feature-length film, The Real Michael Jackson from investigative reporter and broadcaster Jacques Peretti – who has spent much of his life analysing Jackson, having made three previous films over 15 years – goes back to Jackson’s beginnings, charting his rise and fall and seeking a fuller picture of this complex, contradictory character by exploring the clues that were missed.
What emerges is a fascinating, thoughtful and multi-layered reappraisal of one of the world’s most famous and controversial artists that investigates what the public failed to see – or were willing to ignore.
It will take us from his early years with The Jackson 5 in Gary, Indiana, to his time in New York – and the notorious nightclub Studio 54 – to his relationship with the media, retreat into fantasy and creation of Neverland, to the preparations for his This Is It concerts shortly before his death.
In the film Peretti interviews photo industry veteran Kevin Smith, one of the original founders of celebrity photo agency Splash News – now owner of the MEGA Agency.
Kevin told PAN from LA this morning: “I felt privileged to be interviewed by the great Jacques Peretti and the BBC for this Jacko programme, a chance to reminisce about the good old days of my former company Splash News.
We broke the original Jacko story, and managed to keep ahead of the pack as more and more revelations unfolded. Our words and pictures adorned front pages around the world and secured our credentials that we really were entitled to the name Splash News.
They were heady exciting times, and I am proud that the excellent team we assembled at Splash continued to break the big ones on Jacko for many years to come. There were so many cracking stories.
After we broke the initial child abuse scandal, and revealed to the world the sordid details the police were investigating, we went on to expose the animal cruelty at Neverland Ranch, his first dates with bride-to-be Lisa Marie Presley, news that he was to be a dad with a nurse at his dermatologist carrying his first child.
Later, when Jackson was fighting his drug addictions, it was Splash who tracked him down to a rehab in Aspen Colorado where he was being comforted by another young boy.
When fresh allegations surfaced from Gavin Arviso, Splash carried out its best detective work to find Jackson’s first accuser, the elusive Jordie Chandler. It was Splash that had the exclusive images of Jackson leaving his Vegas hideaway to surrender to authorities before standing trial in in the Arviso case…. as the jury read out its verdict, we were there to capture the reaction of his young accuser as he bought ice cream in a local store, gazing disbelievingly at the TV hung behind the serving counter.
There were many many more stories inbetween.
Full credit to those who took part in these operations – and a lot of them were major operations involving a lot of good old fashioned journalism and doorstepping. Pardon me for those I have left off, it all seems a long time ago now and my memory isn’t what it used to be.”
• PAN contacted Splash London for images of that time – here’s a couple they sent over this morning:
• Missed it? Watch it now on iPlayer