New A&E reality project uncertain following Michael Jackson's death
By Christopher Rocchio, 07/14/2009
Footage filmed by A&E for a potential reality series starring the Jackson family is currently in limbo following The King of Pop's passing late last month.
A&E is currently unsure what to do with footage of Randy, Jackie, Tito, Jermaine, Marlon and Michael Jackson that it filmed months ago and originally intended to air as a "backdoor pilot" for a potential reality series, The Hollywood Reporterreported Monday.
Tentatively titled The Jackson Family, the one-hour special was initially scheduled to air next year and follow the Jackson siblings as they prepared a new album and reunion tour, according to The Reporter, which added A&E was going to take a "wait and see" approach to gauge viewer reaction before ordering the series.
However now the network is in "wait and see" mode about the special itself following Michael's unexpected death from an apparent cardiac arrest in his home late last month.
"We have started discussing internally and with the family but have not yet decided what direction to take with the show," said A&E executives in a statement obtained by The Reporter.
"We are respecting the family's wishes right now, and at the appropriate time we will all decide what direction this program to take, so stay tuned."
While producers have shot no new footage since June 5 -- three weeks before Michael's death -- executive producer Jodi Gomes toldThe Reporter she already has tons of footage, possibly including "never-before-seen" scenes with Michael.
"We have months and months of exclusive and intimate footage as a family as a unit, as individuals, as brothers," Gomes told The Reporter. "It's enormous... this is not your average special."
Details of the project have been "kept very cloak and dagger" due to a reunion tour the Jackson family members had been planning, according to Gomes, adding a confidentiality agreement disallows her from discussing the exact nature of the footage.
"A lot of it had to do with Michael," Gomes teased The Reporter about the footage. "We were filming long before Michael announced his [London] O2 shows. The Jackson 5 were to have dates as well."
Despite the exact nature of the content being unknown, news and entertainment networks were in a "frenzy" on Monday trying to obtain it, according to The Reporter, which added A&E owns the telecast rights.
While the earlier project never made it to air, this isn't the first time the Jackson siblings have been associated with a reality series. In 2007, CBS began developing an American Idol-like reality series titled Pop Dynasty that would have had Jermaine, Tito and LaToya Jackson serving as judges and attempting to find a musically-talented family like themselves.