Michael Jackson fans say 'This Is Not It'
With the feature-length concert documentary “Michael Jackson’s This Is It” reaching theaters Wednesday for a limited two-week engagement, a group of concerned fans has started an “awareness campaign” to bring to light what they see as certain dark truths about the King of Pop. Namely, the campaign seeks to highlight what one fan describes as the “blatant lies and attempted cover-up by those around Michael in his final months.”
On the website this-is-not-it.com and a dedicated This Is Not It Facebook page, the fans allege that Jackson felt overworked and overwhelmed in the buildup to his 50 sold-out concerts at London’s O2 Arena. Testimonies by fans who claim to have interacted with Jackson in his final months describe how he was filled with anxiety, wracked with back pain and looked severely undernourished.
Moreover, the fans accuse executives at Jackson’s concert promoter, AEG Live, of being more concerned with making money than with the performer’s well-being.
A representative for AEG Live did not respond to requests for comment.
“[W]e believe we can inform people and help them see the movie with different eyes,” reads a statement of purpose on this-is-not-it.com. “We can tell you this did not have to be IT and you could be watching Michael Jackson alive on a stage instead of a celluloid picture.
“It is our hope that many fans around the world will agree to join us and to unite one last time to do something that will shed light on the lies that are being said.”
Organized by fans from various countries, several of whom spent substantial amounts of time following Jackson since his 2005 criminal trial on child molestation charges, This Is Not It is a forum for shared grief and outrage at Jackson’s death. The fans’ stories are often very personal and emotionally wrought -- as are the allegations against such Jackson confidantes as his manager Frank DiLeo and AEG Live Chief Executive Randy Phillips.
In an interview with The Times last week, however, Kenny Ortega, the director of Jackson’s comeback concerts as well as the movie “Michael Jackson’s This Is It,” denied that the pop icon was anything less than 100% committed to what would have been his return to performing after a 12-year touring absence.
“It’s just not true that he didn’t want to do it or was being forced to do it or expected to do it,” Ortega said. “This was something he truly wanted to do. ‘This Is It’ never did anything other than nourish and excite him.”
In a statement addressing This Is Not it, Sony’s senior vice president of media relations Steve Elzer said: “‘Michael Jackson's This Is It’ is a celebration of Michael and his music and the film will demonstrate to fans around the world that he was an artist like no other who was passionately creating a one-of-a-kind concert experience. We believe his fans will be grateful for the rare opportunity to see Michael's creativity in action as he prepared and rehearsed for his upcoming London concerts.”
-- Chris Lee
Photo: Michael Jackson at the Santa Barbara County Courthouse in 2005. Michael A. Mariant / Associated Press