It’s hard to believe that it’s already been six years since the tragic death of pop legend Michael Jackson. On June 21st, a book based on his final days written by Tavis Smiley and David Ritz will be released. Further to that announcement was another huge one that cinematic heavyweight J.J. Abrams has been working with Smiley to produce a television series based on that book, both titled Before You Judge Me: The Triumph and Tragedy of Michael Jackson’s Last Days.
Judging from the very straightforward title, the book and series are set to follow Jackson through the days leading up to his tragic death, as he continued to fight for privacy from the public eye while dealing with the pressures of super-stardom.
Over the course of his writing career, Smiley has written a variety of memoirs and novels based on historical events, including one that is currently being written on his friend and poet Maya Angelou. Abrams has been equally as busy, developing the new HBO series Westworld and finishing the long-running crime series Person Of Interest.
The director and author are certainly no strangers to each other and are even already experienced in playing out the final days of history’s largest characters on the small screen, Abrams and Smiley currently adapting Smiley’s 2014 novel Death of a King: The Real Story of Martin Luther King Jr.’s Final Year into a series. It seems to be a partnership working tremendously given they’ve already got more work pencilled in.
As far as posthumous cinematic releases already, in the months following Michael Jackson’s death a feature-length documentary that showcased footage of the preparation and rehearsals of his cancelled This Is It tour, including behind-the-scenes footage and interviews, was released in his honour. His final album of the same name was released in October of 2009 and the title track, which can be heard below, won Jackson a posthumous Grammy award for Best Male Pop Performance in 2011.
The end result will be the subject of pure speculation until further details are released, with the network, cast and release date for Before You Judge Me still to be confirmed, but it will be more than intriguing to see the kind of take Abrams and Smiley are able to give to Jackson’s last days, whether controversial or not, and whether they will add any new wrinkles to the Michael Jackson story.
Image: Rolling Stone