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Uncertainty surrounds planned 'Thriller' musical

June 26, 2009 |  3:28 pm


A planned stage adaptation of Michael Jackson's 1983 "Thriller" music video is in limbo after the pop star's untimely death at age 50.

As Culture Monster reported in January, the Nederlander Organization acquired the rights to produce a musical version of "Thriller" with the intention of involving Jackson in "every aspect of the creative process." The stage adaptation was to include songs from his 1982 "Thriller" album and 1979 album, "Off the Wall."

Now plans for the show appear to be up in the air. "We just don't know what's going to happen, and that's all we're saying for now," said a spokesman for Nederlander in New York. "Plans for the future are forthcoming, and we may know more in the next week of two. All we're saying for now is that we're mourning the death of Michael Jackson."

Nederlander was set to produce the stage musical, but no cast or creative team have been announced yet.

The original "Thriller" video was a 14-minute short movie directed by John Landis that spoofed horror films and featured a group of dancing zombies. Jackson performs in the video as a young man whose night out with a girl takes a turn for the paranormal when he transforms into a werewolf.

Around the same time that Nederlander announced plans for the musical, Landis sued Jackson for breach of contract, saying that the pop star had not paid him his share of royalties. Landis also claimed that Jackson had no legal right to negotiate the musical without him.

"Thriller" has experienced a resurgence in popularity with the "Thrill the World" re-enactments that took place around the globe, including one at Hollywood & Highland in October.

-- David Ng

Related story: Something to be thrilled about: A 'Thriller' dance record

Photo: a scene from "Thriller," starring Michael Jackson. Credit: MJJ Productions