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New Michael Jackson Musical Celebrates His Greatness While Mostly Avoiding the Dark Stuff

By David Browne

David Browne

In the first of several such scenes in  MJ , the new Broadway musical about one of the pop’s most explosive and, now, polarizing figures, a fictional MTV reporter tries to get Michael Jackson to open up. Jackson, played by Myles Frost down to the trademark billowy white shirt, curly ponytail, and feathery voice, demurs: “I want to keep this about music.” To which the reporter responds, “Is it possible to separate your life from your music?”

Returning to the topic later in the show, Jackson also tells her, “Listen to my music. It gives you all the answers you need.” Yet that original question hovers throughout the two and half hours of  MJ , finally premiering on Broadway after a lengthy Covid-relayed delay. Bio-musicals have come to be a tourist-friendly tradition on Broadway. But from its equally beloved and debated subject to its often inventive structure, MJ  is far more unconventional — and far more complicated — than previous shows on the sagas of the Four Seasons, Cher or Carole King. You’ll leave the Neil Simon Theatre (where the show opens tonight) both on a giddy high from Jackson’s music but also grappling with what was and wasn’t incorporated.

Produced with the cooperation of Jackson’s estate, MJ makes it clear from the start where it won’t be venturing. As theatergoers are still finding their seats, cast members (portraying backup dancers, musicians and technicians) begin wandering onto the set, which is made to resemble a workaday warehouse space. It’s 1992, a few days before Jackson’s Dangerous tour is scheduled to start, and Jackson and his team are putting the finishing touches on the show. Also mimicking real life, they’re joined on this day by the above mentioned fictional MTV producer and her cameraman, there to make what the camera guy calls a “puff piece” promoting the tour. They’re promised behind-the-scenes access to watch the show come together and interview the notoriously press-shy star, who hasn’t granted an interview in (the show says) in 14 years.

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Written by Pulitzer-winning playwright Lynn Nottage and directed by Christopher Wheeldon, the British choreographer known for his work in the ballet world, MJ  doesn’t completely dispense with the standard bio-musical narrative tradition. The show recreates some of Jackson’s career milestones, at least until 1992: rehearsing with the Jackson 5 in their home, meeting Berry Gordy (who signs them to Motown), collaborating with Quincy Jones on  Off the Wall and Thriller , being handed Grammy after Grammy, reuniting with his brothers for the semi-botched Victory reunion tour.

As we watch Jackson and his team fine-tune the Dangerous show, those moments in time are woven into the story as flashbacks. A quick exchange with the MTV producer (played by Whitney Bashor) or a rehearsal of an older Jackson 5 hit triggers Jackson, pulling him back in time to remember either a happy or painful moment in his life. “It’s not the old songs,” he tells her of his reticence to sing his former group’s hits. “It’s the memories.”

The setup sounds clunky, but most of the transitions between past and present are seamless, thanks to Wheeldon and also to cast members portraying more than one role. As both the Dangerous tour director and Jackson’s overbearing father Joseph, Quentin Earl Darrington (who looks a bit like Dwayne Johnson’s less beefy brother) navigates between those roles in several scenes. A rehearsal of a Jackson 5 medley pulls Jackson back into his childhood: In one, he watches as his childhood self (exquisitely portrayed by Christian Wilson, one of two actors in that early-Michael role) and his mother (played by Anaya George) duet on “I’ll Be There.” The pained look on Frost’s face as he watches is among the show’s most poignant moments. That moment is one of several in which one of Jackson’s hits — like ”Human Nature” and “Stranger in Moscow” — is used astutely as a commentary on his mindset and actions, rather than just as a way to recreate a well-known performance. (That’s the case with “Billie Jean,” presented as if it’s straight out of of the Motown 25 special.) Forced to live up to a commitment to give a press conference to promote the tour, Jackson is surrounded by dark-lit “reporters” who resemble vampires, leading into a performance of “They Don’t Care About Us,” one of his angriest and most defensive songs.

Frost, who has appeared on The Voice and had a small role in the 2019 film All In,  has clearly studied Jackson’s moves. He mimics the moonwalks and body ticks — the way Jackson could shrug each shoulder up and down or flick his wrist while performing. He doesn’t just capture his playfulness and pillow-soft voice but also the flashes of anger and frustration that would sometimes emerge when he spoke. The performance reminds you how much Jackson brought to pop, choreography and celebrity mystique. The show also benefits from the songs, which, like Frost’s performance, are largely note-for-note recreations: from Jackson 5 hits (“I Want You Back,” “ABC,” “Dancing Machine”) up through various songs from Jackson’s own catalog. There are some head-scratchers: During a scene in which Jackson is guilt-tripped into participating in the 1984 “Victory” tour with his brothers, the cast breaks into the O’Jays’ “For the Love of Money,” but one of the key tracks on Dangerous , “Remember the Time,” isn’t heard at all.

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All that said,  MJ  doesn’t tell us anything we don’t know: The narrative is a collection of Jackson’s greatest character-shaping hits. We already know that Joseph Jackson was so driven and so hungry for a piece of fame that he hit or threatened his young son for seeming to disobey him. We know Michael wasn’t thrilled to partake in the “Victory” tour but went along with his father and brothers. We know he became addicted to painkillers thanks to having part of his scalp burned during that horrific 1984 soda commercial filming. We know that, by 1992, he was keeping up on business and was feeling the pressure to compete with hip hop, grunge and more recent pop acts. (“God will give the idea to Prince,” he says with a giggle when he tosses out a new production idea.)

During one of his “interviews,” Jackson lashes out at the press for the “lies,” prompting Rachel, the MTV producer, to respectfully confront him about the way he also works the media and may secretly want all that attention. But by and large, the portrait of Jackson is largely sympathetic. He’s a victim, worn down by the media, his addiction and his own ambitions, and relentlessly haunted by his relationship with his father. (As Rob the tour manager barks at him at one point, “You’re not eating or sleeping!”) We see him come down hard on one of his dancers or toss off so many new ideas for tour staging (a Jetpack!) that a business manager has to repeatedly barge into the rehearsals and tell him he’s spending too much. If Jackson is guilty of anything, MJ says, it’s being too creative and driven for his own good, all In his quest for a level of perfection that has its roots in Joe Jackson (in another flashback) mocking young Michael for his “big fat nose.”

And, of course, setting the story in 1992 allows the creators to completely sidestep the child-molestation accusations and lawsuits that began piling up a year later. (In 2005 Jackson was acquitted of all criminal charges.) That eruption led to the cancellation of the planned last leg of the  Dangerous  tour, since Jackson also claimed he’d become addicted to pills to cope with the stress. The only hint of this pending controversy is the moment when one of the tour executives, complaining about the runaway spending on the show, quickly asks about the “family” that will be accompanying Jackson on the road. The clear-cut villain remains his father. The darkest moment in MJ arrives during a late-show production number in which Jackson is chased around a hellscape set by a demonic figure, again played by Darrington. Is Darrington evoking Joseph Jackson or just one of the horror-movie monsters Jackson himself was drawn to? Either way, Jackson is left looking shell-shocked and traumatized. The closing special effect  — no spoilers — rams home how world-conquering but alone he was.

MJ ends without any updates on Jackson’s life after 1992, which is likely to gratify some and infuriate others. As part of his posthumous rehabilitation effort, MJ wants you to remember all the best things about him and not dwell on what came next. You’d almost think Jackson died right after Dangerous and not 17 years later. And maybe in that way, this equally exhilarating and confounding show really does have it right: Whether you believe the allegations made against him or not, there’s no question that a part of Jackson left the building on those world stages nearly 30 years ago.

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After court victories, Michael Jackson estate eyes revival

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FILE - Michael Jackson performs “Dangerous” during the taping of the American Bandstand’s 50th anniversary show on April 20, 2002, in Pasadena, Calif. With a series of court victories and shows beginning or returning after a long pandemic pause, Jackson’s estate, and his legacy are on the upswing again. Estate co-executor John Branca said in an interview with The Associated Press that his optimism never flagged as crises hit. (AP Photo/Kevork Djansezian, File)

Entertainment lawyer and Michael Jackson Estate co-executor John Branca poses for a portrait, Thursday, July 8, 2021, at his home in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello)

Entertainment lawyer and Michael Jackson Estate co-executor John Branca poses for a portrait alongside Andy Warhol prints of Jackson, Thursday, July 8, 2021, at his home in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello)

FILE - Michael Jackson applauds as he looks out into the audience July 6, 2002, at Rev. Al Sharpton’s National Action Network headquarters in Harlem, New York. With a series of court victories and shows beginning or returning after a long pandemic pause, Jackson’s estate, and his legacy are on the upswing again. Estate co-executor John Branca said in an interview with The Associated Press that his optimism never flagged as crises hit. (AP Photo/Stephen Chernin, File)

Entertainment attorney and Michael Jackson Estate co-executor John Branca poses alongside Andy Warhol prints of Jackson, Thursday, July 8, 2021, at his home in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello)

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BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. (AP) — Michael Jackson’s musical legacy never left, but a kind of comeback is coming.

With a series of court victories that bring the end to serious legal crises, with a Broadway show beginning and a Cirque du Soleil show returning after a long pandemic pause, the Jackson business is on the upswing 12 years after the pop superstar’s death.

Very recently, things looked grim. The 2019 HBO documentary “ Leaving Neverland ” raised child molestation allegations anew. The once-dead lawsuits brought by the two men featured in it had been revived by changes in the law. And a decision in the estate’s appeal of a $700 million tax bill was taking years to arrive.

“I was always optimistic,” John Branca, the entertainment attorney who worked with Jackson through many of his biggest triumphs and now serves as co-executor of his estate, told The Associated Press in an interview at his Beverly Hills home. “Michael inspired the planet and his music still does. There was never any doubt about that.”

The optimism was warranted. A succession of court decisions came. One accusers’ lawsuit was dismissed in October . The other was tossed out in April . In May, a ruling in the tax case slashed the bill dramatically. The estate suddenly stands nearly clear of a dozen years of disputes. That means Branca expects that in the next 18 months it can finally be taken out of probate court and turned into a trust for Jackson’s three children , who are all now adults.

And the focus of the estate can now shift back to presenting Jackson to the world.

The first priority is the revival of the Cirque du Soleil show, “Michael Jackson: One” at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in Las Vegas. It is slated to reopen Aug. 19 after a coronavirus closure of nearly a year and a half, in time for a major celebration there planned for Jackson’s Aug. 29 birthday.

The Broadway show, “MJ: The Musical,” will follow quickly on its heels, the first of several planned projects.

Branca said the delay of well over a year, as happened for all of Broadway, was “frustrating” but he has renewed excitement about “MJ: The Musical” and shared new details.

“It’s not a chronological depiction of Michael’s life,” he said. “It’s more impressionistic, inspired by Michael’s life and his music. It takes place as Michael is preparing for a tour and MTV wants to get an interview. Michael’s very press shy, and slowly but surely as they develop a relationship begins to talk about different parts of his life that then get enacted in the show.”

Two-time Pulitzer Prize winner Lynn Nottage wrote the show’s book. Tony Award-winner Christopher Wheeldon is directing and choreographing. Broadway newcomer Myles Frost will star as Jackson, after Ephraim Sykes dropped out to shoot a movie. Rehearsals resume in September, and previews begin in December.

Branca said he’s proud of the diversity the show will bring to the stage.

“The cast is obviously largely Black,” Branca said, “In an era where that’s sorely wanted on Broadway.”

Successes aside, Branca feels lingering bitterness about director Dan Reed’s “Leaving Neverland” and what he felt were American media outlets that “don’t have the time or the wherewithal to do the research to figure out what’s true and what’s not true.”

Hence, the estate’s last lingering lawsuit, now in private arbitration, is one that it brought itself, and one Branca very much wanted filed, against HBO over the documentary.

“I was very angry at HBO and Dan Reed and I still am because here’s the thing: You can say anything you want about somebody who’s dead. They’re not here to protect themselves,” Branca said.

The two men featured in the documentary are appealing the dismissals of their lawsuits. HBO has defended “Leaving Neverland” as a valid and important piece of documentary journalism.

Ironically, the victory handed to the estate in its tax case came in part because the judge believed the value of Jackson’s image and likeness had been severely diminished by such allegations at the time of his death, despite his acquittal at his 2005 trial for child molestation. It was one aspect of an all-around victory for the estate that’s bringing a far smaller bill that’s being calculated now.

Under the guidance of Branca and his more behind-the-scenes co-executor John McClain, the estate has brought in $2.5 billion in revenue in the past 11 years, and Jackson has remained the top earning deceased celebrity every year since his death at age 50 from a lethal dose of the anesthetic propofol .

But Branca says the way Jackson’s musical legacy echoes through modern artists may be his most impressive legacy.

“Kanye West, Drake, Beyoncé, Usher, Justin Timberlake, Justin Bieber, Ariana Grande — they all point back to Michael,” Branca said. “His influence is really enormous.”

This story has been corrected to show Jackson’s birthday is Aug. 29, not Aug. 27.

Follow AP Entertainment Writer Andrew Dalton on Twitter: https://twitter.com/andyjamesdalton

michael jackson revival tour

‘MJ’ a thriller of a tribute to Michael Jackson’s music

The glossy new stage musical lets you know with its first big number that this is a celebration of the king of pop..

Roman Banks as ‘MJ’ and the cast of “MJ “First National Tour.

Michael Jackson (Roman Banks) and the cast of “MJ” at the Nederlander Theatre.

Matthew Murphy/MurphyMade

If you were lucky enough to see Michael Jackson in concert, you know the seemingly impossible star power he exerted on stage and over a crowd. He was a luminous, peerless performer whether he was in an arena on tour or on the small screen dancing his heart out with his brothers as the Jackson 5 on “Soul Train.” When he debuted his robot dance as a teenager, Jackson had only begun to reveal the impact he’d have on not just pop culture, but culture. Period.

The glossy new musical “MJ” lets you know with its first big number — an eye-popping, dance-inducing rendition of “Beat It” — that this is a celebration of the King of Pop enacted by a crew of performers up to the extraordinary task of capturing the essence of the Grammy-winning artist and his music.

Directed and choreographed by Christopher Wheeldon (who won a Tony for his choreography), the musical that launched its first national tour in Chicago this week is at its best during its astonishing production numbers, epic renditions of “Billie Jean” and “Smooth Criminal” among the nearly three dozen Jackson tunes featured.

Wheeldon, a former soloist and resident choreographer with the New York City Ballet, has an exhaustive dance vocabulary (he re-invented “The Nutcracker” for the Joffrey Ballet here). He creates a jaw-dropping spectacle that includes Jackson’s signature moves merged with Wheeldon’s own high-octane legwork. When everyone on stage is in motion, it’s a breathtaking vision of athleticism and grace.

As the title character, Roman Banks is a force of nature, capturing the moves, the energy and the revolutionary creativity Jackson embodied.

In two-time Pulitzer Prize winner Lynn Nottage’s book, the musical begins in 1992, as the rehearsals for Jackson’s “Dangerous” world tour are in their final days. From the rehearsal room, “MJ” moves between flashbacks and the present — from the Jackson 5’s genesis in their Gary, Indiana, home to an audition for Motown’s Barry Gordy to ultimately the incandescent opening moments of the tour.

Michael (Roman Banks) reluctantly converses with MTV producer Rachel (Mary Kate Moore) in “MJ.” First National Tour.

Michael (Roman Banks) reluctantly converses with MTV producer Rachel (Mary Kate Moore) in “MJ.”

Jackson is played in his teen years by a charismatic Brandon Lee Harris and as a child by an endearing Josiah Benson (who alternates in the role with Ethan Joseph). Throughout, a two-person MTV documentary crew (Mary Kate Moore and Da’Von Moody) follows the action and tries to get Jackson to open up about his music and more importantly, his life.

The 1992 setting means all that embroiled Jackson later — the 1993 allegations of sexual battery on a child, his arrest on child molestation charges in 2003, and the 2005 trial that acquitted him on all counts — aren’t a factor. In this telling, Jackson is a tortured artistic genius who always delivers despite being hunted by the media, haunted by his past and under unmanageable pressure in the present.

Still, Jackson’s demons are never far from the surface in “MJ.” We see him popping pain pills, and mortgaging his Neverland ranch to fund the tour as his inner circle becomes increasingly concerned.

The Jackson 5 — (back row) Josh A. Dawson (Tito), Jay Mackenzie (Jackie), Bryson Jacobi Jackson (Jermaine) and (front row) Jaylen Lyndon Hunter (Little Marlon) and Ethan Joseph (Little Michael) — begin to establish themselves as a music powerhouse in “MJ.” 

The Jackson 5 — (back row) Josh A. Dawson (Tito), Jay Mackenzie (Jackie), Bryson Jacobi Jackson (Jermaine) and (front row) Jaylen Lyndon Hunter (Little Marlon) and Ethan Joseph (Little Michael) — begin to establish themselves as a music powerhouse in “MJ.”

Michael Murphy/MurphyMade

“MJ” shows the terrible pressures Jackson faced as a child at the hands of a simultaneously loving and abusive father, Joseph (Devin Bowles, who is also cast as Rob, Michael’s tour manager). If Joseph has to backhand the youngest member of the Jackson 5 into rehearsing, so be it.

The musical remains at its most glorious during the big production numbers, which include a rich catalogue of Jackson hits, with Jackson’s ruthless perfectionism shining through in Banks’ almost mind-blowing performance. If you didn’t know better, you’d swear that was Jackson himself moving through the sinewy, rueful “Human Nature” and the crackling rage of “Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’ ” or the celebratory “Black or White.”

Tour manager Rob (Devin Bowles) discusses the seemingly impossible requests about the tour’s production numbers with the perfectionist Michael (Roman Banks) in “MJ.”

Tour manager Rob (Devin Bowles) discusses the seemingly impossible requests about the tour’s production numbers with the perfectionist Michael (Roman Banks) in “MJ.”

The epic “Thriller” scene somehow manages to be as riveting as the original, ground-breaking video. Here, the first monster to emerge morphs from within a looming silhouette of Jackson’s father. “They Don’t Care About Us” becomes a song of raging defiance punctuated by dance that’s all stabbing angles and angry stomps. When the Jackson 5 run through “ABC” in a montage of hits, they deliver the infectious, rhythm charisma of the group’s seminal performances on “Soul Train” and “The Ed Sullivan Show.”

Paul Tazewell’s often literally dazzling costumes feature instantly recognizable renditions of Jackson’s indelible looks, from the billowy white shirt to the iconic silver-sequined glove to the red “Thriller” and military-style jackets Jackson wore with such panache.

Like the costumes, the sets (by Derek Lane) and cinematic projections (Peter Nigrini) create a world of ever-shifting color and light, and an environment that feels as elaborate as an actual Jackson tour’s massive production numbers.

Wheeldon and Nottage also take great care to acknowledge Jackson’s varied influences: Bob Fosse slinks across the stage. Fred Astaire glides by in top hat and tux. The acrobatic tap dancing of the Nicholas Brothers turn the stage into a space of jubilation.

“MJ” doesn’t truly delve who Michael Jackson was beyond an iconic, perfectionist, performer. It’s a pop psychology portrait of an icon that avoids really digging deep or dealing with the most hellacious headlines and accusations Jackson faced. It’s irresistible, nonetheless.

  • As tour begins in Chicago, team behind Michael Jackson musical wants to be startin’ somethin’ great

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NBC10 Philadelphia

After Court Victories, Michael Jackson Estate Eyes Revival

And the focus of the estate can now shift back to presenting jackson to the world, by andrew dalton • published july 30, 2021 • updated on july 30, 2021 at 3:11 pm.

Michael Jackson's musical legacy never left, but a kind of comeback is coming.

With a series of court victories that bring the end to serious legal crises, with a Broadway show beginning and a Cirque du Soleil show returning after a long pandemic pause, the Jackson business is on the upswing 12 years after the pop superstar's death.

Philadelphia news 24/7: Watch NBC10 free wherever you are

Very recently, things looked grim. The 2019 HBO documentary “ Leaving Neverland ” raised child molestation allegations anew. The once-dead lawsuits brought by the two men featured in it had been revived by changes in the law. And a decision in the estate's appeal of a $700 million tax bill was taking years to arrive.

“I was always optimistic,” John Branca, the entertainment attorney who worked with Jackson through many of his biggest triumphs and now serves as co-executor of his estate, told The Associated Press in an interview at his Beverly Hills home. “Michael inspired the planet and his music still does. There was never any doubt about that.”

Get Philly local news, weather forecasts, sports and entertainment stories to your inbox. Sign up for NBC Philadelphia newsletters.

The optimism was warranted. A succession of court decisions came. One accusers' lawsuit was dismissed in October. The other was tossed out in April. In May, a ruling in the tax case slashed the bill dramatically. The estate suddenly stands nearly clear of a dozen years of disputes. That means Branca expects that in the next 18 months it can finally be taken out of probate court and turned into a trust for Jackson's three children, who are all now adults.

And the focus of the estate can now shift back to presenting Jackson to the world.

The first priority is the revival of the Cirque du Soleil show, “Michael Jackson: One” at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in Las Vegas. It is slated to reopen Aug. 19 after a coronavirus closure of nearly a year and a half, in time for a major celebration there planned for Jackson's Aug. 29 birthday.

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The Broadway show, “MJ: The Musical,” will follow quickly on its heels, the first of several planned projects.

Branca said the delay of well over a year, as happened for all of Broadway, was “frustrating” but he has renewed excitement about “MJ: The Musical” and shared new details.

“It's not a chronological depiction of Michael’s life,” he said. “It’s more impressionistic, inspired by Michael’s life and his music. It takes place as Michael is preparing for a tour and MTV wants to get an interview. Michael’s very press shy, and slowly but surely as they develop a relationship begins to talk about different parts of his life that then get enacted in the show.”

Two-time Pulitzer Prize winner Lynn Nottage wrote the show's book. Tony Award-winner Christopher Wheeldon is directing and choreographing. Broadway newcomer Myles Frost will star as Jackson, after Ephraim Sykes dropped out to shoot a movie. Rehearsals resume in September, and previews begin in December.

Branca said he's proud of the diversity the show will bring to the stage.

“The cast is obviously largely Black,” Branca said, "In an era where that’s sorely wanted on Broadway.”

Successes aside, Branca feels lingering bitterness about director Dan Reed's “Leaving Neverland” and what he felt were American media outlets that “don’t have the time or the wherewithal to do the research to figure out what’s true and what’s not true.”

Hence, the estate's last lingering lawsuit, now in private arbitration, is one that it brought itself, and one Branca very much wanted filed, against HBO over the documentary.

“I was very angry at HBO and Dan Reed and I still am because here’s the thing: You can say anything you want about somebody who’s dead. They’re not here to protect themselves," Branca said.

The two men featured in the documentary are appealing the dismissals of their lawsuits. HBO has defended “Leaving Neverland” as a valid and important piece of documentary journalism.

Ironically, the victory handed to the estate in its tax case came in part because the judge believed the value of Jackson's image and likeness had been severely diminished by such allegations at the time of his death, despite his acquittal at his 2005 trial for child molestation. It was one aspect of an all-around victory for the estate that's bringing a far smaller bill that's being calculated now.

Under the guidance of Branca and his more behind-the-scenes co-executor John McClain, the estate has brought in $2.5 billion in revenue in the past 11 years, and Jackson has remained the top earning deceased celebrity every year since his death at age 50 from a lethal dose of the anesthetic propofol.

But Branca says the way Jackson's musical legacy echoes through modern artists may be his most impressive legacy.

“Kanye West, Drake, Beyoncé, Usher, Justin Timberlake, Justin Bieber, Ariana Grande — they all point back to Michael,” Branca said. “His influence is really enormous.”

This story has been corrected to show Jackson's birthday is Aug. 29, not Aug. 27.

Follow AP Entertainment Writer Andrew Dalton on Twitter: https://twitter.com/andyjamesdalton

michael jackson revival tour

'MJ: The Musical' review: Myles Frost's moonwalk, hit songs carry Michael Jackson show

michael jackson revival tour

Whatever you think of Michael Jackson , the man had a lot of hits and if there's one thing audiences love, it's a show with good songs. 

"MJ The Musical," which recently opened at the Neil Simon Theatre in New York City Tuesday, features tracks from "Off the Wall," "Thriller," "Bad," "Dangerous" — and classics from The Jackson 5.  

Is it, well, bad? No, but it's not great. Like most jukebox musicals, there are good scenes. It's certainly worth seeing, but it's not special — even with a book by two-time Pulitzer Prize winner Lynn Nottage.

The show takes place in Los Angeles at a rehearsal studio in 1992, before Jackson's "Dangerous" tour kicks off in Munich, Germany. As we walk into the theater, we see dancers on stage. Some chat, others stretch and practice dance moves. The band is there, too, tuning up. 

A few minutes later, MJ appears, played by Myles Frost. This self-trained singer, dancer and actor is wonderful. He looks, sounds, acts and dances like Big Mike. "Beat It" kicks things off, and it's lots of fun. Director/choreographer Christopher Wheeldon is inspired by the famous video, including a bit of the knife "fight." Eddie Van Halen fans will be happy to know that the guitarist on stage nails the solo.

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Michael Jackson's legacy: We may never resolve our conflicted feelings

During rehearsals, MJ is being interviewed by MTV, so as he talks to the reporter (Whitney Bashor), he takes us back to how he started singing with his brothers.  

That's where we meet Little Michael, played at certain performances by Walter Russell III and at others by Christian Wilson. In the Playbill, Wilson is described as "a rising superstar," and that is spot on. His smile is infectious, and the kid can dance and sing. Costumes by Tony winner Paul Tazewell — for Little Michael, his brothers and throughout the show — are a treat.

'Guilty by association': Janet Jackson talks Michael Jackson allegations in documentary trailer

But wait, there is a third Michael! Tavon Olds-Sample plays Jackson as an older teen, with the afro, and then the "Off the Wall"/"Thriller" Michael, working in the studio. Kudos to wig and hair designer Charles LaPointe.

Frost is always the center of attention, though. As he takes us through the creative process, he really captures the eccentric spirit of the King of Pop. His childlike voice is borderline comical at times, but that was Michael. 

Fans will be happy to know there is the moonwalk during "Billie Jean," but Frost's favorite move seems to be the circular moonwalk (moonwalk circle? circle slide?). He does it several times during the show. Rich & Tone Talauega are credited in the Playbill with the "Michael Jackson movement." (The duo worked with Jackson since the 1990s.) 

The impressive Quentin Earl Darrington has a big role as Rob, who is MJ's right-hand man, and Joseph, Michael's father. Sometimes, Darrington shifts gears from one character to the other in the same scene. 

Rob is worried about Jackson working himself and the dancers too hard. He also notices when the superstar starts taking too many pills. But Darrington transforms as Joseph, becoming much more intense. It has been well reported that Joseph Jackson was abusive, and we see that here.

More: Michael Jackson estate 'optimistic' about revival after recent court victories

Ayana George plays Katherine Jackson, Michael's mother. She's loving, supportive and forgiving. In one scene, she says she knows Joseph is not perfect, and hard on the boys. He does it, she says, because he never got the chance. So he's making sure his children do.

During the show, Fred Astaire, James Brown, Jackie Wilson, Berry Gordy, Quincy Jones, Don Cornelius and Bob Fosse all make appearances. Each of them inspired Michael. 

Tony winner Derek McLane creates some big moments with his sets. He's at his best during "Smooth Criminal," with its city skyline and neon signs creating a spectacle appropriate for this "Bad" song. This is another time where the show's choreography is inspired by the video. Frost wears a white suit jacket and fedora, and does the famous "anti-gravity lean" dance move.

"Thriller" is teased in the first act before the zombies take center stage in Act II. "They Don't Care About Us" and "Stranger in Moscow" from the 1995 album "HIStory" are other show highlights, effectively conveying anger and isolation, respectively.   

There are bits and pieces of lots of other songs, leaving the audience wanting more a bit too often. 

The $20+ million show took a lot of teamwork, including sound design by Gareth Owen; Neptune-native Jason Michael Webb for music direction, orchestrations and arrangements; David Holcenberg for music supervision, orchestrations and arrangements; Strange Cranium for electronic music design; and music coordinator John Miller. 

Director Wheeldon does his best to bring the cast, the band, the sets and the music together. It's not surprising that it doesn't always work. Michael Jackson dreamed big, striving for heights he could not reach. He wanted "Bad" to outsell "Thriller." He wanted his "Dangerous" tour to be the biggest in the world. (The show ended up grossing $140 million and was seen by more than 4 million people. Curious enough, it never came to America.)

"MJ" does not address the 1993 allegation that rocked the pop world, when Jackson was accused of molesting a 13-year-old boy in 1993. The allegation is implied, however. In 1994, Jackson settled the matter out of court, reportedly spending $20 million but denying he did anything wrong. Child molestation charges followed in 2003, but Jackson was acquitted in 2005. HBO aired the documentary "Leaving Neverland" in 2019, focusing on two men who said Jackson (who died in 2009) abused them when they were children. Jackson's estate filed suit against the network, saying the singer was innocent.

'Leaving Neverland': What we know about allegations of molestation against Michael Jackson

The encore of "MJ" is a missed opportunity. Did we need the cast singing the new jack swing song "Jam"? The cast also sings "Black or White," which makes sense. Let's come together and celebrate. We need more of that in the world — but it falls flat.

A better choice would have been "Black or White" followed by a Jackson 5 medley. Or "Can You Feel It" from The Jacksons. Or "Will You Be There," a top-10 song that was played during Jackson's Dangerous world tour but not included in "MJ." The song would have required some editing, but it's uplifting — and the cast could have served as the "choir." 

There are even a few "woos!" for Frost. 

Yet it's too late, as "Man in the Mirror" goes, to "make that change."

No matter what I say, say, say.

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Michael Jackson Estate Hopeful for Revival of Cirque du Soleil and New Broadway Show After Court Victories

The Michael Jackson estate has seen a number of legal victories recently, which signals a financial upswing for the business after years of hardship.

Image via Getty/Phil Walter

michael-jackson

The Michael Jackson estate is finally looking at a financial boon after a number of legal wins.

The court victories will open the door for the beginning of a Broadway show and the revival of Jackson’s Cirque du Soleil show, which has been halted for nearly 18 months due to the pandemic, according to the Miami Herald .

One legal fight stemmed from the estate’s appeal of a $700 million tax bill, which resulted in a significantly lowered bill in May. The judge apparently thought that the value of Jackson’s image and likeness had declined due to the sexual abuse allegations from around the time he died. Following HBO’s 2019 documentary Leaving Neverland , the two men who alleged abuse took their cases to court, with one getting thrown out in October and the second, in April.

“I was always optimistic,” John Branca, Jackson’s entertainment attorney and now co-executor of his estate, told The Associated Press. “Michael inspired the planet and his music still does. There was never any doubt about that.” With this news, Branca thinks that now he can work towards creating a trust for Jackson’s three adult children.

The singer’s Cirque du Soleil show, Michael Jackson: One is set to return to the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in Las Vegas on Aug. 19, in time for Jackson’s birthday celebration on Aug. 29. The Broadway show, MJ: The Musical will soon follow.

“It’s not a chronological depiction of Michael’s life,” Branca said of the Broadway show. “It’s more impressionistic, inspired by Michael’s life and his music. It takes place as Michael is preparing for a tour and MTV wants to get an interview. Michael’s very press shy, and slowly but surely as they develop a relationship begins to talk about different parts of his life that then get enacted in the show.”

With Branca and co-executor John McClain’s help, the estate has amassed $2.5 billion in revenue over the last 11 years.

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Michael Jackson Estate Eyes Revival After Court Victories

Michael Jackson’s musical legacy never left, but a kind of comeback is coming.

By Associated Press

Associated Press

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Michael Jackson

Michael Jackson ’s musical legacy never left, but a kind of comeback is coming.

With a series of court victories that bring the end to serious legal crises, with a Broadway show beginning and a Cirque du Soleil show returning after a long pandemic pause, the Jackson business is on the upswing 12 years after the pop superstar’s death.

Very recently, things looked grim. The 2019 HBO documentary Leaving Neverland raised child molestation allegations anew. The once-dead lawsuits brought by the two men featured in it had been revived by changes in the law. And a decision in the estate’s appeal of a $700 million tax bill was taking years to arrive.

Michael Jackson

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Michael Jackson Scores His First Video in YouTube's Billion Views Club

“I was always optimistic,” John Branca, the entertainment attorney who worked with Jackson through many of his biggest triumphs and now serves as co-executor of his estate, told The Associated Press in an interview at his Beverly Hills home. “Michael inspired the planet and his music still does. There was never any doubt about that.”

The optimism was warranted. A succession of court decisions came. One accusers’ lawsuit was dismissed in October. The other was tossed out in April. In May, a ruling in the tax case slashed the bill dramatically. The estate suddenly stands nearly clear of a dozen years of disputes. That means Branca expects that in the next 18 months it can finally be taken out of probate court and turned into a trust for Jackson’s three children, who are all now adults.

And the focus of the estate can now shift back to presenting Jackson to the world.

The first priority is the revival of the Cirque du Soleil show Michael Jackson: One at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in Las Vegas. It is slated to reopen Aug. 19 after a coronavirus closure of nearly a year and a half, in time for a major celebration there planned for Jackson’s Aug. 29 birthday.

Michael Jackson's Likeness Valued at $4.1 Million in Big Tax Court Win for Estate

The Broadway show MJ: The Musical will follow quickly on its heels, the first of several planned projects.

Branca said the delay of well over a year, as happened for all of Broadway, was “frustrating” but he has renewed excitement about MJ: The Musical and shared new details.

“It’s not a chronological depiction of Michael’s life,” he said. “It’s more impressionistic, inspired by Michael’s life and his music. It takes place as Michael is preparing for a tour and MTV wants to get an interview. Michael’s very press shy, and slowly but surely as they develop a relationship begins to talk about different parts of his life that then get enacted in the show.”

Two-time Pulitzer Prize winner Lynn Nottage wrote the show’s book. Tony Award-winner Christopher Wheeldon is directing and choreographing. Broadway newcomer Myles Frost will star as Jackson, after Ephraim Sykes dropped out to shoot a movie. Rehearsals resume in September, and previews begin in December.

Michael Jackson Estate Gets Judge to Toss Wade Robson's Abuse Suit

Branca said he’s proud of the diversity the show will bring to the stage.

“The cast is obviously largely Black,” Branca said, “In an era where that’s sorely wanted on Broadway.”

Successes aside, Branca feels lingering bitterness about director Dan Reed’s Leaving Neverland and what he felt were American media outlets that “don’t have the time or the wherewithal to do the research to figure out what’s true and what’s not true.”

Hence, the estate’s last lingering lawsuit, now in private arbitration, is one that it brought itself, and one Branca very much wanted filed, against HBO over the documentary.

“I was very angry at HBO and Dan Reed and I still am because here’s the thing: You can say anything you want about somebody who’s dead. They’re not here to protect themselves,” Branca said.

The two men featured in the documentary are appealing the dismissals of their lawsuits. HBO has defended Leaving Neverland as a valid and important piece of documentary journalism.

Ironically, the victory handed to the estate in its tax case came in part because the judge believed the value of Jackson’s image and likeness had been severely diminished by such allegations at the time of his death, despite his acquittal at his 2005 trial for child molestation. It was one aspect of an all-around victory for the estate that’s bringing a far smaller bill that’s being calculated now.

Under the guidance of Branca and his more behind-the-scenes co-executor John McClain, the estate has brought in $2.5 billion in revenue in the past 11 years, and Jackson has remained the top earning deceased celebrity every year since his death at age 50 from a lethal dose of the anesthetic propofol.

But Branca says the way Jackson’s musical legacy echoes through modern artists may be his most impressive legacy.

“Kanye West, Drake, Beyoncé, Usher, Justin Timberlake, Justin Bieber, Ariana Grande — they all point back to Michael,” Branca said. “His influence is really enormous.”

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After Court Victories, Michael Jackson Estate Eyes Revival

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BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. (AP) — Michael Jackson’s musical legacy never left, but a kind of comeback is coming.

With a series of court victories that bring the end to serious legal crises, with a Broadway show beginning and a Cirque du Soleil show returning after a long pandemic pause, the Jackson business is on the upswing 12 years after the pop superstar’s death.

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Very recently, things looked grim. The 2019 HBO documentary “  Leaving Neverland  ” raised child molestation allegations anew. The once-dead lawsuits brought by the two men featured in it had been  revived  by changes in the law. And a decision in the estate’s appeal of a $700 million tax bill was taking years to arrive.

“I was always optimistic,” John Branca, the entertainment attorney who worked with Jackson through many of his biggest triumphs and now serves as co-executor of his estate, told The Associated Press in an interview at his Beverly Hills home. “Michael inspired the planet and his music still does. There was never any doubt about that.”

The optimism was warranted. A succession of court decisions came. One accusers’ lawsuit was dismissed in  October . The other was tossed out in  April . In May, a ruling in the  tax case  slashed the bill dramatically. The estate suddenly stands nearly clear of a dozen years of disputes. That means Branca expects that in the next 18 months it can finally be taken out of probate court and turned into a trust for Jackson’s three  children , who are all now adults.

And the focus of the estate can now shift back to presenting Jackson to the world.

The first priority is the revival of the Cirque du Soleil show, “Michael Jackson: One” at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in Las Vegas. It is slated to reopen Aug. 19 after a coronavirus closure of nearly a year and a half, in time for a major celebration there planned for Jackson’s Aug. 27 birthday.

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The Broadway show, “MJ: The Musical,” will follow quickly on its heels, the first of several planned projects.

Branca said the  delay  of well over a year, as happened for all of Broadway, was “frustrating” but he has renewed excitement about “MJ: The Musical” and shared new details.

“It’s not a chronological depiction of Michael’s life,” he said. “It’s more impressionistic, inspired by Michael’s life and his music. It takes place as Michael is preparing for a tour and MTV wants to get an interview. Michael’s very press shy, and slowly but surely as they develop a relationship begins to talk about different parts of his life that then get enacted in the show.”

Two-time Pulitzer Prize winner Lynn Nottage wrote the show’s book. Tony Award-winner Christopher Wheeldon is directing and choreographing. Broadway newcomer Myles Frost will star as Jackson, after Ephraim Sykes dropped out to shoot a movie. Rehearsals resume in September, and previews begin in December.

Branca said he’s proud of the diversity the show will bring to the stage.

“The cast is obviously largely Black,” Branca said, “In an era where that’s sorely wanted on Broadway.”

Successes aside, Branca feels lingering bitterness about director Dan Reed’s “Leaving Neverland” and what he felt were American media outlets that “don’t have the time or the wherewithal to do the research to figure out what’s true and what’s not true.”

Hence, the estate’s last lingering lawsuit, now in private arbitration, is one that it brought itself, and one Branca very much wanted filed,  against HBO  over the documentary.

“I was very angry at HBO and Dan Reed and I still am because here’s the thing: You can say anything you want about somebody who’s dead. They’re not here to protect themselves,” Branca said.

The two men featured in the documentary are appealing the dismissals of their lawsuits. HBO has defended “Leaving Neverland” as a valid and important piece of documentary journalism.

Ironically, the victory handed to the estate in its tax case came in part because the judge believed the value of Jackson’s image and likeness had been severely diminished by such allegations at the time of his death, despite his acquittal at his 2005 trial for child molestation. It was one aspect of an  all-around victory  for the estate that’s bringing a far smaller bill that’s being calculated now.

Under the guidance of Branca and his more behind-the-scenes co-executor John McClain, the estate has brought in $2.5 billion in revenue in the past 11 years, and Jackson has remained the top earning deceased celebrity every year since his death at age 50 from a lethal dose of the anesthetic  propofol .

But Branca says the way Jackson’s musical legacy echoes through modern artists may be his most impressive legacy.

“Kanye West, Drake, Beyoncé, Usher, Justin Timberlake, Justin Bieber, Ariana Grande — they all point back to Michael,” Branca said. “His influence is really enormous.”

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Playhouse Square Broadway series includes 'MJ,' launch of 'Back to the Future' tour

michael jackson revival tour

Playhouse Square announced its 2023-24 KeyBank Broadway Series on Tuesday, featuring the launch of the North American tour of "Back to the Future," the pre-Broadway tour of "The Wiz" and "MJ," the musical that celebrates the creativity and collaborative spirit of Michael Jackson, the King of Pop.

The seven-show season was announced on New Day Cleveland on Fox 8 Cleveland WJW.

Craig Hassall, Playhouse Square's new president and CEO, praised the loyalty of Playhouse Square's more than 44,000 annual season theatergoers.

"Your enthusiasm and knowledge rival that of audiences anywhere in the world," he said.

More: Genie homecoming in 'Aladdin' a blast for Akron native Marcus Martin

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David Greene, senior vice president of programming, said Playhouse Square has the largest Broadway season ticket community in North America. He promised a season that includes plenty of nostalgia for multiple generations as well as new spins on familiar titles.

The full season Playhouse Square season for 2023-24

● "The Wiz,"  Oct. 3 to 22. Cleveland will be one of the first cities in the country to host a pre-Broadway stop of this musical, which will have a limited Broadway run in spring, 2024. The musical, a groundbreaking twist on "The Wizard of Oz," has an iconic score featuring soul, gospel, rock and funk, including the timeless hit "Ease on Down the Road." This revival infuses ballet, jazz and modern pop for a whole new groove.

●  "Girl From the North Country,"  Oct. 31 to Nov. 19. The Tony Award-winning musical reimagines 20 legendary songs by Bob Dylan to tell the 1934 story of a group of wayward travelers whose lives intersect in 1934 Duluth, Minnesota. Written and directed by Conor McPherson, the show features Tony-winning orchestrations by Simon Hale of Dylan hits including "Forever Young" and "Like a Rolling Stone."

●  "Mrs. Doubtfire,"  Jan. 9 to 28, 2024. Based on the beloved film, the musical tells the story of an out-of-work actor who will do anything for his kids, even pose as a Scottish nanny. The family-friendly comedy is directed by Jerry Zaks.

●  "Funny Girl,"  Feb. 20 to March 10, 2024. Fanny Brice, who has always dreamed of a life on stage, becomes one of the most beloved performers in history, despite everyone telling her she'd never be a star. The musical comedy revival features a score with the classic songs "Don't Rain on My Parade," "I'm the Greatest Star" and "People."

● "Company,"  April 30 to May 19, 2024. The winner of five Tony awards, including best revival of a musical, is a new production of Stephen Sondheim and George Furth's musical comedy. In the revival, gender-swapping has lead Bobbie as a 35-year-old single woman, rather than the original male Bobby, whose friends continually ask her why she hasn't settled down and started a family. Other characters have switched genders, including the man Jamie, originally written as a woman Amy. The musical's iconic Sondheim songs include "Side by Side by Side" and "Being Alive."

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●  "Back to the Future: The Musical,"  June 11 to July 7, 2024. Playhouse Square will host the official North American tour opening less than 12 months after the show's Broadway opening in August 2023. The musical, based on the Universal Pictures/Amblin Entertainment film, includes hit songs from the movie such as "The Power of Love" and "Back in Time."

●  "MJ," July 16 to Aug. 11, 2024. The Tony Award-winning musical centers around the making of Michael Jackson's 1992 Dangerous World Tour, with direction and Tony-winning choreography by Christopher Wheeldon and a book by two-time Pulitzer Prize winner Lynn Nottage. The musical looks at the creative mind and collaborative spirit that made Jackson a pop legend.

Season tickets are available from $160 to $750 per seat at 216-640-8800 or playhousesquare.org/broadway.

Arts writer Kerry Clawson may be reached at 330-996-3527 or [email protected].

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Invincible: A Glorious Tribute to Michael Jackson – American Music Theatre

June 20 - june 20, 2024.

American Music Theatre - Lancaster, Pa

Get ready for a spectacular Michael Jackson tribute! In addition to featuring his greatest hits such as Billie Jean, Beat It, Smooth Criminal, Thriller and more, the Invincible show will feature routines that were created but never toured. These are the song selections and dance routines Michael Jackson never had the opportunity to bring to the national stage – featured alongside your favorite greatest hit songs and dances Michael Jackson fans have come to love.

Invincible will delight fans with additional routines Michael rehearsed for the HBO special One Night Only . Additionally, the audience will be introduced to tunes from the Jackson 5 that never aired and/or were never performed live. Invincible features choreography by longtime Michael Jackson choreographer and dancer, Lavelle Smith, Jr.

The time is NOW, the place is here, and there are always surprises when the show is Invincible . Bring the entire family, dress in your best Michael Jackson outfit and come celebrate the life and times of the legendary Michael Jackson!

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Event Description

He is one of the greatest entertainers of all time. Now, Michael Jackson’s unique and unparalleled artistry comes to Cleveland as MJ , the multi Tony Award®-winning new musical centered around the making of the 1992 Dangerous World Tour, begins a tour of its own. Created by Tony Award®-winning Director/Choreographer Christopher Wheeldon and two-time Pulitzer Prize winner Lynn Nottage , MJ goes beyond the singular moves and signature sound of the star, offering a rare look at the creative mind and collaborative spirit that catapulted Michael Jackson into legendary status. MJ is startin’ somethin’ as it makes its Cleveland premiere at Playhouse Square in July 2024.

michael jackson revival tour

michael jackson revival tour

Michael Jackson's Neverland Ranch in Danger of Destruction Due to Massive Wildfire

Michael Jackson 's Neverland Ranch may be in danger of burning down.

According to a report, the late pop icon's former California estate is in the path of a massive wildfire that has hit Santa Barbara County.

The blaze, which has been dubbed the "Lake Fire," has spread to more than 12,000 acres and has already caused evacuations of the surrounding areas.

As OK! previously reported , Neverland Ranch was purchased by Ron Burkle in 2020 for $22 million after five years on the market. The sprawling property will take center stage in the upcoming biopic about Jackson's life, where his nephew Jaafar will play his famous uncle.

Jackson, who died in 2009. resided on the lot from 1988 until 2005 after purchasing it for $17 million. Following his acquittal of child molestation, he never returned to the ranch.

The home was the place where many accusers claimed the "Billie Jean" singer would spend time with kids. However, Brad Sundberg , a former technical director for Jackson, who also worked on the ranch, denied that the artist did anything wrong.

"Not in a million years did I ever see a child around Michael Jackson that looked like they had been distressed, hurt, abused," the ex-staffer alleged in an interview. “Neverland was such a peaceful, safe, fun place. ”

Following the bombshell 2019 documentary, Leaving Neverland , which focused on the alleged victims of the chart-topper, the Jackson estate sued HBO for $100 million dollars claiming they violated a 27-year-old non-disparagement clause from a 1992 concert film from the Dangerous tour. "HBO breached its agreement not to disparage Michael Jackson by producing and selling to the public a one-sided marathon of unvetted propaganda to shamelessly exploit an innocent man no longer here to defend himself," the estate attorney Howard Weitzman said in a statement.

Never miss a story — sign up for the OK! newsletter to stay up-to-date on the best of what OK! has to offer. It’s gossip too good to wait for!

In response to the lawsuit , the network stated, "Despite the desperate lengths taken to undermine the film, our plans remain unchanged. HBO will move forward with the airing of Leaving Neverland , the two-part documentary, on March 3rd and 4th. This will allow everyone the opportunity to assess the film and the claims in it for themselves."

The Jackson estate ultimately won the appeal. "The contract contained a broad arbitration clause that covers claims that HBO disparaged Jackson in violation of ongoing confidentiality obligations," the court ruled. "We may only identify whether the parties agreed to arbitrate such claims; it is for the arbitrator to decide whether those claims are meritorious."

TMZ first reported on the path of the wildfire.

Mega

Michael Jackson was $500 million in debt when he died, according to court filing

Michael Jackson performs

LOS ANGELES — Michael Jackson was more than $500 million in debt in 2009 when he died ahead of a planned concert tour, according to new court documents.

The deep financial hole the “King of Pop” found himself in was detailed in a petition the executors of his estate filed Friday in Los Angeles County Superior Court.

“At the time of Michael Jackson’s death, Michael Jackson’s most significant assets were subject to more than $500 million of debt and creditors’ claims, with some of the debt accruing interest at extremely high interest rates, and some debt in default,” the filing said.

Before he died on June 25, 2009, Jackson was preparing to launch a concert tour called This Is It.

The tour had been planned as a colossal 50-show engagement at London’s O2 Arena.

He died close to the eve of the tour, which left his estate financially liable for $40 million to the tour promoter, AEG, the filing said.

The filing requests that money from Jackson's estate be used to reimburse the executors’ attorneys for legal services and other expenses in 2018.

Jackson was also facing lawsuits in several states and countries when he died, the petition said. More than 65 creditors’ claims had been filed, which prompted more lawsuits, the filing said.

The executors, however, have settled or disposed of most of the creditors’ claims and litigation, the filing said.

Jackson died at his Los Angeles mansion at age 50 of acute propofol intoxication. His physician, Dr. Conrad Murray, was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter in 2011 for providing the drug.

Jackson’s illustrious career included 13 Grammy Awards, two inductions into the Rock ’n’ Roll Hall of Fame and sales upward of 400 million records.

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Diana Dasrath is entertainment producer and senior reporter for NBC News covering all platforms.

Antonio Planas is a breaking news reporter for NBC News Digital. 

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Michael Jackson Died With $500 Million in Debt

Jackson owed about $40 million to the tour promoter A.E.G. in 2009, his estate’s executors said in a court filing. They said all the debts have been eliminated.

Michael Jackson looks downward.

By Reggie Ugwu

Michael Jackson’s debts and creditor’s claims at the time of his death in 2009 totaled more than $500 million, according to a court filing by the pop superstar’s estate that provides details of his financial woes toward the end of his life.

Jackson owed about $40 million to the tour promoter A.E.G., according to the filing, which was made in Los Angeles County Superior Court this month and earlier reported by People magazine . The filing said that 65 creditors made claims against the singer after his death, some of which resulted in lawsuits, and that some of his debt had been “accruing interest at extremely high interest rates.”

A representative for the Jackson estate, which is executed by John Branca and John McClain, did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The estate filed the court papers as a request to authorize the payment of about $3.5 million to several legal firms for their work in the second half of 2018.

In the court filing, the executors say that they have eliminated the estate’s debt and that almost all of the creditors’ claims and litigation have been resolved.

Jackson earned hundreds of millions of dollars throughout the 1980s and 1990s as the creator of some of the biggest-selling albums of all time, along with dazzling concert tours that filled stadiums around the world. He bought the Beatles’ song catalog for $47.5 million in 1985 and later sold it to Sony/ATV Music in exchange for a 50 percent share in the company. Sony bought back the estate’s share for $750 million in 2016.

But when Jackson died at the age of 50, shortly before he was supposed to embark on a live residency called This Is It, he left behind a tangled web of assets and liabilities .

Jackson was famous for his lavish lifestyle and spent money with abandon. He incurred millions of dollars in debt from his Neverland Ranch estate in Southern California and had a penchant for expensive art, jewelry and private jets. He was paying more than $30 million annually on interest payments, a forensic accountant testified during a 2013 wrongful-death trial in which A.E.G. prevailed .

The Jackson estate is currently in a dispute with the I.R.S. after a tax audit. In a separate court filing this year , the estate said that the federal agency accused it of undervaluing its assets and said it owed “an additional $700 million in taxes and penalties.”

Kirsten Noyes contributed research.

An earlier version of this article misstated the location of Michael Jackson’s Neverland Ranch estate. It is in Southern California but not in Los Angeles.

How we handle corrections

Reggie Ugwu is a Times culture reporter. More about Reggie Ugwu

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The First Look: John Deere Classic

The First Look

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It’s the 53rd playing of the John Deere Classic, and with just five weeks remaining before the FedExCup Playoffs there’s not much time left to bank valuable FedExCup points.

Jordan Spieth, a two-time winner at the John Deere – more on him below – returns to TPC Deere Run, the site of his first TOUR win. Jason Day is in the field, too, for the first time in over a decade.

We’re entering a busy stretch on the PGA TOUR, with The Open Championship, the Olympics, the FedExCup Playoffs and the Presidents Cup all still to come.

Here’s everything you need to know as the PGA TOUR returns to the Quad Cities.

FIELD NOTES: Jordan Spieth makes his return to the John Deere Classic for the first time since 2015. Spieth is a two-time winner at TPC Deere Run including in his last appearance nine years ago when he shot a third-round 61. Spieth’s 2013 victory at the John Deere was his first TOUR title … Sepp Straka aims to become the first repeat winner at the John Deere since Steve Stricker won three in a row from 2009-11. Straka has three top-five finishes this season … Jason Day returns to TPC Deere Run for the first time since 2011. Day has never missed the cut at the John Deere in five appearances, with his best finish (T15) coming in back-to-back years, 2009-10. Day has four top-10s this season … Michael Thorbjornsen continues to find his way as a pro after finishing atop the PGA TOUR University ranking to earn his TOUR card. Thorbjornsen finished T39 at the Travelers Championship but missed the cut at the Rocket Mortgage Classic. He finished T17 at the John Deere Classic last season when he got into the field on a sponsor exemption … Sungjae Im , eager for another spot on the International Team at the Presidents Cup, is back at TPC Deere Run for the first time since 2021. Im has five top-10s this season and made the cut in both of his previous John Deere Classic starts.

SPONSOR EXEMPTIONS: Luke Clanton, the standout from Florida State who made the cut at the U.S. Open and contended at the Rocket Mortgage Classic before a 72 on Sunday (T10), will try to stay hot at the John Deere … Harry Higgs has won twice already on the Korn Ferry Tour, securing his PGA TOUR return next season. This will be his sixth TOUR start this season … Jackson Buchanan , the Big Ten Golfer of the Year in 2024, will make his non-major PGA TOUR debut. Buchanan, a junior at the University of Illinois, missed the cut at the U.S. Open at Pinehurst … Cole Sherwood will make his PGA TOUR debut after playing two Korn Ferry Tour events and last week’s PGA TOUR Americas event. Sherwood, who finished No. 7 on the PGA TOUR University rankings, helped Vanderbilt win seven team titles this season and was All-SEC First Team … Neal Shipley is back in action after finishing T20 at the Rocket Mortgage Classic. Shipley finished as Low Amateur at both the Masters and the U.S. Open before turning professional … Andrew Landry, Adam Long and Kyle Westmoreland round out the sponsor exemptions.

COMCAST BUSINESS TOUR TOP 10: There was no movement inside the TOUR TOP 10 last week at the Rocket Mortgage Classic, with Scottie Scheffler continuing his strong hold on the top spot … Byeong Hun An continues his impressive run as the only golfer to be inside the TOUR TOP 10 every week so far this season … Akshay Bhatia , who finished tied for second at Detroit Golf Club, moved from No. 15 to No. 11 in the standings, just 14 points back of An at No. 10 … There are five weeks remaining before the FedExCup Playoffs.

FEDEXCUP: Winner receives 500 FedExCup points

COURSE: TPC Deere Run, par 71, 7,289 yards. D.A. Weibring, a three-time winner of the John Deere Classic, utilized the best of the Mid-Mississippi River Valley landscape for TPC Deere Run. There’s an old-time feel with the course, established in 1998, with plenty of birdie opportunities but risk/reward scenarios as well. There’s lots of dramatic elevation on the course, which used to be an Arabian horse farm. The club has played host to the PGA TOUR since 2000.

72-HOLE RECORD: 257, Michael Kim (2018)

18-HOLE RECORD: 59, Paul Goydos (Round 1, 2010)

LAST TIME: Straka fired a 9-under 62 Sunday – tied for low round of the week – to win the 2023 John Deere by two over Brendon Todd and Alex Smalley. Straka zipped up 13 spots on the leaderboard to capture his second TOUR title by two shots despite making a double bogey on his final hole. At one point, Straka was 11-under for the day and just needed to play the final four holes in 1-under to shoot 59. He ended up missing a 9-foot birdie try on No. 17 before finding the water with his approach on No. 18. It ended up being a moot point. Adam Schenk and Ludvig Åberg, in his fourth start as a pro, tied for fourth.

How to follow (all times ET)

Television:

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PGA TOUR LIVE is available exclusively on ESPN+

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First Trailer for ‘Futurama’ Season 12 Sees More Cross-Universe Adventures (TV News Roundup)

By Selena Kuznikov

Selena Kuznikov

  • First Trailer for ‘Futurama’ Season 12 Sees More Cross-Universe Adventures (TV News Roundup) 3 hours ago
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  • ‘The Serpent Queen’ Season 2 Trailer: Samantha Morton Rules France as the Queen Regent 1 day ago

Futurama Season 12

Fry, Leela and Bender are back! Hulu has unveiled the trailer for Season 12 of the revival of “ Futurama ,” set to premiere July 29 on the streamer.

The crew embarks on different adventures in the new season, including birthday party games to the death, A.I. friends and enemies, the next chapter in Fry and Leela’s romance and more.

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A new season of unscripted series “Big Freedia Means Business” is set to premiere Oct. 2 on Fust and Fuse+.

Following rapper and performer Big Freedia, the second season sees Freedia and her team go all in on different business ventures including Royal Bud, Shade Sunglasses and the Big Freedia Hotel. The artist also works on a gospel album and her plans to write a children’s book.

Special guests this season include Macy Gray, Sheryl Lee Ralph, Tamar Braxton, Billy Porter and Cimafunk.

The Hollywood Creative Alliance announced nominations for its 2024 Astra TV Awards. FX’s “The Bear” led with 15 nominations, followed by 13 each for Max’s “Hacks” and Hulu’s “Only Murders in the Building.” ABC’s “Abbott Elementary” and CBS’ “Ghosts” each secured 11 nominations, as did Apple TV+’s “The Morning Show.”

The 2024 Astra TV Awards will stream live from the Avalon Hollywood on Sunday, Aug. 18. Here are the nominations in major series categories:

Best Broadcast Network Comedy Series

Abbott Elementary (ABC) 

Animal Control (Fox) 

Ghosts (CBS) 

Not Dead Yet (ABC) 

Son of a Critch (The CW) 

The Connors (ABC) 

The Neighborhood (CBS) 

Young Sheldon (CBS) 

Best Cable Comedy Series

Curb Your Enthusiasm (HBO) 

It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia (FX) 

Resident Alien (Syfy) 

Shining Vale (Starz) 

The Righteous Gemstones (HBO) 

Best Streaming Comedy Series

Gen V (Prime Video) 

Girls5eva (Netflix) 

Hacks (Max) 

Loot (Apple TV+) 

Only Murders in the Building (Hulu) 

Palm Royale (Apple TV+) 

Reservation Dogs (FX on Hulu) 

Ted (Peacock) 

The Bear (FX on Hulu) 

The Gentleman (Netflix) 

Best Broadcast Network Drama Series

9-1-1 (ABC) 

Elsbeth (CBS) 

Grey’s Anatomy (ABC) 

Law & Order: Special Victims Unit (NBC) 

The Cleaning Lady (Fox) 

The Equalizer (NBC) 

The Good Doctor (ABC) 

Will Trent (ABC) 

Best Cable Drama Series

Billions (Showtime) 

Chucky (Syfy) 

Outlander (Starz) 

The Curse (Showtime) 

The Gilded Age (HBO) 

Winning Time: The Rise of the Lakers Dynasty (HBO) 

Best Streaming Drama Series 

3 Body Problem (Netflix) 

Ashoka (Disney+) 

Fallout (Prime Video) 

Loki (Disney+) 

Monarch: Legacy of Monsters (Apple TV+) 

Mr. & Mrs. Smith (Prime Video) 

Shōgun (FX on Hulu) 

Silo (Apple TV+) 

The Crown (Netflix) 

The Morning Show (Apple TV+) 

Best Limited Series

Apples Never Fall (Peacock) 

Baby Reindeer (Netflix) 

Black Mirror (Netflix) 

Fargo (FX) 

Fellow Travelers (Showtime) 

Lessons in Chemistry (Apple TV+) 

Ripley (Netflix) 

The Fall of the House of Usher (Netflix) 

True Detective: Night Country (HBO) 

We Were The Lucky Ones (Hulu) 

Best TV Movie

First Time Female Director (Roku) 

Mr. Monk’s Last Case (Peacock) 

Música (Prime Video) 

No One Will Save You (Hulu) 

Quiz Lady (Hulu) 

Red, White, and Royal Blue (Prime Video) 

Totally Killer (Prime Video) 

Turtles All The Way Down (Max) 

Best Animated Series or TV Movie

Big Mouth (Netflix) 

Clone High (Max) 

Curses! (Apple TV+)

Harley Quinn (Max) 

Hazbin Hotel (Prime Video) 

Jurassic World: Chaos Theory (Netflix) 

Orion and the Dark (Netflix) 

South Park: Joining the Panderverse (Paramount+) 

The Simpsons (Fox) 

X-Men ‘97 (Disney+) 

Best Anime Series

Blue Eye Samurai (Netflix) 

Frieren: Beyond Journey’s End (Crunchyroll) 

Ninja Kamui (Adult Swim) 

Pluto (Netflix) 

Scott Pilgrim Takes Off (Netflix) 

Solo Leveling (Crunchyroll) 

Best Children or Family Series

Blues Clues and You (Nickelodeon) 

Bluey (Disney Junior) 

Gabby’s Dollhouse (Netflix) 

Percy Jackson (Disney+) 

Sesame Street (Max) 

The Spiderwick Chronicles (Roku) 

American Idol (ABC) 

So You Think You Can Dance (Fox) 

Squid Game: The Challenge (Netflix) 

Survivor (CBS) 

The Amazing Race (CBS) 

The Golden Bachelor (ABC) 

The Masked Singer (Fox) 

The Traitors (Peacock) 

The Voice (NBC) 

Tournament of Champions (Food Network) 

Best Documentary

Albert Brooks: Defending My Life (Max) 

In Restless Dreams: The Music of Paul Simon (Hulu) 

Jim Henson: Idea Man (Disney+) 

Kevin Hart & Chris Rock: Headliners Only (Netflix) 

Out of the Ring (Fuse) 

STEVE (Martin): A Documentary in Two Parts (Apple TV+) 

The Greatest Night in Pop (Netflix) 

This is Not Financial Advice (Fuse) 

Best Docuseries 

American Nightmare (Netflix) 

Beckham (Netflix) 

Black Twitter: A People’s History (Hulu) 

Bollywed (Fuse) 

Quiet On Set: The Dark Side Of Kids TV (ID) 

Thank you, Goodnight: The Bon Jovi Story (Hulu) 

The Jinx: The Life and Death of Robert Durst (Max) 

Where is Wendy Williams (Lifetime) 

Best Game Show

Celebrity Family Feud (ABC) 

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Jimmy Kimmel Live (ABC) 

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The Daily Show with Jon Stewart (Comedy Central) 

The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon (NBC) 

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Gaga Chromatica Ball (Max) 

Hannah Waddingham: Home for Christmas (Apple TV+) 

Last Week Tonight With John Oliver (HBO) 

Saturday Night Live (NBC) 

The 30th Annual SAG Awards (Netflix) 

The 66th Annual Grammy Awards (CBS) 

The 76th Annual Tony Awards (CBS) 

The 96th Annual Academy Awards (ABC) 

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  1. “The Legacy Michael Jackson Revival” chega ao Polytheama dia 03/04

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  2. "The Legacy Tour

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  4. Michael Jackson Tribute Live Experience sur la scène du Revival Music

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VIDEO

  1. Michael Jackson

  2. Michael Jackson

  3. MJstudioversions: The Reveal

  4. Michael Jackson

  5. HISTORY (7" HIStory Lesson Edit)

  6. End of the dance performance

COMMENTS

  1. MJ (Touring) Tickets

    He is one of the greatest entertainers of all time. Now, Michael Jackson's unique and unparalleled artistry comes to cities across the United States as MJ, the multi-Tony Award-winning new musical centered around the making of the 1992 Dangerous World Tour, begins a tour of its own.Created by Tony Award-winning Director/Choreographer Christopher Wheeldon and two-time Pulitzer Prize winner Lynn ...

  2. Michael Jackson estate eyes revival after court victories

    Michael Jackson estate 'optimistic' about revival after recent court victories. Andrew Dalton. 0:00. 3:21. BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. — Michael Jackson's musical legacy never left, but a kind of ...

  3. Michael Jackson, 'MJ' Musical Review

    New Michael Jackson Musical Celebrates His Greatness While Mostly Avoiding the Dark Stuff. After a lengthy Covid-related delay, the jukebox bio-musical 'MJ' debuted Tuesday. Here's our take on the ...

  4. After court victories, Michael Jackson estate eyes revival

    FILE - Michael Jackson performs "Dangerous" during the taping of the American Bandstand's 50th anniversary show on April 20, 2002, in Pasadena, Calif. With a series of court victories and shows beginning or returning after a long pandemic pause, Jackson's estate, and his legacy are on the upswing again. Estate co-executor John Branca ...

  5. 'MJ' a thriller of a tribute to Michael Jackson's music

    "MJ" shows the terrible pressures Jackson faced as a child at the hands of a simultaneously loving and abusive father, Joseph (Devin Bowles, who is also cast as Rob, Michael's tour manager).

  6. MJ the Musical

    Now, Michael Jackson's unique and unparalleled artistry is electrifying Broadway and North America on tour. Centered around the making of his 1992 Dangerous World Tour, and created by Tony Award ® -winning Director/Choreographer Christopher Wheeldon and two-time Pulitzer Prize winner Lynn Nottage, MJ goes beyond the singular moves and ...

  7. 'MJ' Review: Michael Jackson Musical Struggles to Go Behind Music

    'MJ' Review: Flashy Michael Jackson Musical Packs in the Hits, but Struggles to Get Behind the Music Neil Simon Theatre; 1,387 seats; $159 top. Opened Feb. 1, 2022.

  8. After Court Victories, Michael Jackson Estate Eyes Revival

    Michael Jackson's musical legacy never left, but a kind of comeback is coming. With a series of court victories that bring the end to serious legal crises, with a Broadway show beginning and a ...

  9. 'MJ The Musical' review: Songs, new stars carry Michael Jackson show

    1:08. Whatever you think of Michael Jackson, the man had a lot of hits and if there's one thing audiences love, it's a show with good songs. "MJ The Musical," which recently opened at the Neil ...

  10. List of Michael Jackson concerts

    2. American singer Michael Jackson (1958-2009) performed on three concert tours, and three benefit concerts . Having toured with his brothers since the early 1970s, Jackson began his first solo world tour, the Bad World Tour, in support of his seventh studio album Bad on September 12, 1987. Beginning in Tokyo, Japan, the tour lasted for 1 ...

  11. Michael Jackson Estate Hopeful for Revival of Cirque du ...

    The Michael Jackson estate is finally looking at a financial boon after a number of legal wins.. The court victories will open the door for the beginning of a Broadway show and the revival of ...

  12. MJ the Musical

    The Multiple Tony Award. winning musical. New York City In Performances London In Performances First National Tour In Performances Hamburg Opening December 2024 Sydney Opening February 2025. Michael Jackson's unique and unparalleled artistry has finally arrived in a brand-new musical. The most Tony Award®-winning new musical of the season.

  13. MJ The Musical

    He is one of the greatest entertainers of all time. Now, Michael Jackson's unique and unparalleled artistry comes to you as MJ, the multi Tony Award ®-winning new musical centered around the making of the 1992 Dangerous World Tour, begins a tour of its own.Created by Tony Award-winning Director/Choreographer Christopher Wheeldon and two-time Pulitzer Prize winner Lynn Nottage, MJ goes ...

  14. Home

    Featuring a book by two-time Pulitzer Prize winner Lynn Nottage and Tony Award®-winning choreography from director Christopher Wheeldon, MJ goes beyond the singular moves and signature sound of the star, offering a rare look at the creative mind and collaborative spirit that catapulted Michael Jackson into legendary status.Get tickets now to the show the Chicago Tribune calls "a brilliantly ...

  15. Michael Jackson Estate Eyes Revival After Court Victories

    The first priority is the revival of the Cirque du Soleil show Michael Jackson: One at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in Las Vegas. It is slated to reopen Aug. 19 after a coronavirus closure ...

  16. After court victories, Michael Jackson estate eyes revival

    (30 Jul 2021) FOR CLEAN VERSION SEE STORY NUMBER: 4337591Find out more about AP Archive: http://www.aparchive.com/HowWeWork Twitter: https://twitter.com/AP_A...

  17. After Court Victories, Michael Jackson Estate Eyes Revival

    The first priority is the revival of the Cirque du Soleil show, "Michael Jackson: One" at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in Las Vegas. It is slated to reopen Aug. 19 after a coronavirus closure of nearly a year and a half, in time for a major celebration there planned for Jackson's Aug. 27 birthday. STAY INFORMED!

  18. Tour Schedule

    San Jose, CA. Jul 29 - Aug 3 2025. Learn More. The new musical featuring over 25 of Michael Jackson's biggest hits. Tickets On Sale Now. Broadway Previews Begin December 6, 2021.

  19. New Playhouse Square season led by 'Back to Future' tour launch, 'MJ'

    Playhouse Square announced its 2023-24 KeyBank Broadway Series on Tuesday, featuring the launch of the North American tour of "Back to the Future," the pre-Broadway tour of "The Wiz" and "MJ," the musical that celebrates the creativity and collaborative spirit of Michael Jackson, the King of Pop.. The seven-show season was announced on New Day Cleveland on Fox 8 Cleveland WJW.

  20. Michael Jackson

    About Press Copyright Contact us Creators Advertise Developers Terms Privacy Policy & Safety How YouTube works Test new features NFL Sunday Ticket Press Copyright ...

  21. EVENT: Invincible: A Glorious Tribute to Michael Jackson

    Get ready for a spectacular Michael Jackson tribute! In addition to featuring his greatest hits such as Billie Jean, Beat It, Smooth Criminal, Thriller and more, the Invincible show will feature routines that were created but never toured.These are the song selections and dance routines Michael Jackson never had the opportunity to bring to the national stage - featured alongside your ...

  22. MJ

    Event Description. He is one of the greatest entertainers of all time. Now, Michael Jackson's unique and unparalleled artistry comes to Cleveland as MJ, the multi Tony Award®-winning new musical centered around the making of the 1992 Dangerous World Tour, begins a tour of its own.Created by Tony Award®-winning Director/Choreographer Christopher Wheeldon and two-time Pulitzer Prize winner ...

  23. Michael Jackson Concert & Tour History (Updated for 2024)

    The songs that Michael Jackson performs live vary, but here's the latest setlist that we have from the November 15, 2006 concert in London, England, United Kingdom: We Are the World. Michael Jackson tours & concert list along with photos, videos, and setlists of their live performances.

  24. Michael Jackson's Neverland Ranch in Danger of Destruction Due to

    Michael Jackson's Neverland Ranch may be in danger of burning down. ... dollars claiming they violated a 27-year-old non-disparagement clause from a 1992 concert film from the Dangerous tour.

  25. Michael Jackson was $500 million in debt when he died, according to

    LOS ANGELES — Michael Jackson was more than $500 million in debt in 2009 when he died ahead of a planned concert tour, according to new court documents. The deep financial hole the "King of ...

  26. Michael Jackson Died With $500 Million in Debt

    Jackson owed about $40 million to the tour promoter A.E.G. in 2009, his estate's executors said in a court filing. They said all the debts have been eliminated. By Reggie Ugwu Michael Jackson ...

  27. The First Look: John Deere Classic

    Jackson Buchanan, the Big Ten Golfer of the Year in 2024, will make his non-major PGA TOUR debut. Buchanan, a junior at the University of Illinois, missed the cut at the U.S. Open at Pinehurst …

  28. Artist Michael Craig-Martin: 'My big moment is now'

    One of British art's most influential figures on YBAs, passion versus money and the 'miracle' of having a major new show at 82

  29. Hulu Unveils 'Futurama' Season 12 Trailer (TV News Roundup)

    Hulu unveiled the trailer for Season 12 of the revival of "Futurama," set to premiere July 29. Also: Nominations for the 2024 Astra TV Awards.