This year’s “The People Vs. O.J. Simpson” displayed both the benefits and the drawbacks of dramatizing events that are still fresh in the public consciousness. Simpson’s story has recently received a far less sensational documentary treatment in the form of Ezra Edelman’s absorbing procedural “O.J.: Made in America,” (which you should really be watching if you aren’t already — read our review) which wisely abandons the theatrics of Ryan Murphy’s adaptation. The fact nevertheless remains that giving these kind of very recent, very controversial events the high-minded dramatic treatment is an intensely risky proposition.
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Of course, the story of Michael Jackson’s rise and fall is one that practically screams out for some form of dramatic adaptation. Jackson’s life was characterized by Olympian highs and crushing lows, record-breaking hits and scandals so unspeakable that they would end the career of any other entertainer. And now, years after the man’s passing, the King of Pop is officially getting the small-screen treatment courtesy of J.J. Abrams’ Bad Robot productions.
The company will be behind the T.V. adaptation of Tavis Smiley and David Ritz’s upcoming book “Before You Judge Me: the Triumph and Tragedy of Michael Jackson’s Last Days,” described as “a taut novelistic rendering of the final months in the life of Michael Jackson,” and one that will examine “the soaring highs and deep lows faced by the late pop star — his constant hunt for privacy in a life that was more public than almost any other and the pressures he endured as someone whose fame made him socially fragile and almost unable to live.”
Given Abrams’ involvement in rule-breaking television shows such as “Lost” and the recent Hulu effort “11.22.63,” there’s no reason not to be excited about this brain trust tackling the Jackson saga, especially if it takes a less reverential approach to the troubled, complex star. This is not, incidentally, the first collaboration between Smiley and the folks at Bad Robot – Smiley signed a multi-year deal with the studio back in October of 2015, and his books on both Maya Angelou and Dr. Martin Luther King are set to receive the series treatment as well. [Deadline]