Michael Jackson's family and the executors of his estate have appealed to MSNBC to cancel the scheduled broadcast of a controversial documentary that some believe exploits the pop star's death. Michael Jackson and the Doctor - A Fatal Friendship appears to be told largely from Conrad Murray's perspective. British production company October Films followed Murray for two years and continued to film while the doctor was on trial.
Murray was convicted of involuntary manslaughter in the death of Michael Jackson, and was remanded into custody while he awaits sentencing.
Made with remarkable levels of access and complete editorial independence, we believe this film is the most complete and accurate story of what really happened to Michael Jackson and Conrad Murray on 25 June 2009, and why, October Films executive producer Adam Bullmore said in a statement on the company's Web site.
MSNBC bought the rights to the film and will air Michael Jackson and the Doctor Friday night. (The film will be broadcast in the UK on Thursday night.)
RadarOnline -- a media outlet of dubious legitimacy -- reported that the licensing fee will be used to pay Murray's defense lawyers.
NBC Universal paid the production company approximately $300k for the right to air the documentary, an anonymous insider reportedly told RadarOnline. Much of that money will go to pay Dr. Murray's lawyers, Ed Chernoff, Michael Flanagan, and Nareg Gourjian. If there is any money left over, it will go to Dr. Murray's current girlfriend and mother of their son, Nicole Alvarez. Dr. Murray will not directly profit from the sale of the documentary.
A representative for October Films told the Los Angeles Times Murray was paid $1 for his participation. MSBNC denied paying Murray or his legal team any amount of money. Representatives from both companies indicated it was possible that Zodiak Rights, the film's distributor, could have engaged in a monetary transaction with Murray, but did not have any information one way or another.
John Branca and John McClain, co-executors of Jackson's estate, are not convinced Murray is not profiting from the documentary, and are pressuring MSBNC to pull the plug on Michael Jackson and the Doctor. The sent a letter to MSNBC President Phil Griffin urging him to exercise proper judgment and refrain from airing this program. The letter indicates the executors believe Murray was indeed compensated for his access.
It doesn't matter to us if it was a production company, Comcast, NBC Universal or MSNBC that paid for 'access' to Dr. Murray because all are morally culpable, Branca and McClain write. These are moral loopholes aimed at excusing a reprehensible program stemming from Michael Jackson's tragic death that not only will be aired, but which is being heavily promoted on The Today Show in order to boost ratings at a struggling cable network.
Jackson's family also objects to the documentary. I hear all upset/frustrations re Murray doc. It's shameless & sickens me too, but I choose not to give it attention/controversy it craves, Jermaine Jackson tweeted Wednesday. We've bigger battles to fight than against the meaningless words of a liar whose version of events was unanimously rejected by a jury.
La Toya Jackson did choose to give the documentary attention, addressing a letter to Griffin critizing MSNBC's plan to air the film, and asking for the opportunity to screen the documentary before it is shown to the public.
I feel it morally reprehensible to cloak a murderer and convicted felon with celebrity status, which the airing of Dr. Murray's views will undoubtedly accomplish, La Toya wrote in a letter obtained by TMZ. This becomes even more egregious since Michael is sadly and obviously unable to defend himself against whatever allegations may be made.
I understand that legally MSNBC is protected by the first amendment, she continues. I ask at the very least MSNBC permit my family to view the tape amongst ourselves in advance of its airing to the public. Mr. Griffin, take a moment to put yourself in our shoes and appreciate our suffering for the past two years.
NBC aired part one of an interview with Conrad Murray on Today, Thursday. Murray told Savannah Guthrie was a desperate man during his final hours and insisted nothing that I gave Michael should have ended his life.
The second part of the interview will air on Friday, and will reportedly address Murray's delay in making a 911 call.