Spike Lee's 'Bad25' reveals Michael Jackson as a gifted musician
The subject of Spike Lee's latest documentary is a legendary talent who was better known as a tabloid figure in the past two decades of his life.
But with “Bad25” — an in-depth look at the creative process behind Michael Jackson's 1987 album on its silver anniversary — the director re-introduces us to the staggeringly gifted young man the world knew before all the circuses and scandals.
“For too long, people focused on that other stuff,” Lee says. “When you do that with an artist, you do it to the detriment of the art. People are beginning to refocus on Michael Jackson's music now.”
Lee spoke with numerous musicians, choreographers and filmmakers who collaborated with Jackson on “Bad,” among them Martin Scorsese. There's also archival footage of Jackson and commentary from stars who were influenced by him, among them Mariah Carey and Kanye West.
“People at the top of their fields make it look so easy,” Lee says. “You think Michael Jordan came out of the womb dunking, or Frank Sinatra was born with that voice. But these people bust their (butts). Michael Jackson sang for his supper from the time he was 5.”
The documentary, which airs at 9:30 p.m. Thursday on ABC, reflects on the pressure that “Bad” posed in following 1982's “Thriller,” which remains the best-selling album of all time. But the emphasis is on Jackson's artistry.
“Sheryl Crow (Jackson's onetime backup singer) said he could change the molecules in a room,” Lee says. “I never heard a description like that. But it's very apropos.”
Although Lee himself worked with Jackson on short films for the single “They Don't Care About Us” in 1996, he never considered adding personal insights.
“We weren't close — I'm not going to front,” Lee says. “He was going through some things then.”
The ABC cut is about half as long as the 131-minute version that earned acclaim at the Venice and Toronto Film Festivals, but a full-length DVD is expected early next year.
“Of all my documentaries, this one will be the most watched ever,” Lee says. “Thanksgiving night in America? That's huge.”
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Pirates rout Cardinals to keep things interesting in NL Central
- Montour kicker comes through in win over Central Valley
- Save big money with comparable model of vehicle
- Pirates reliever Liz new, improved
- LaBar: Best next opponent for Brock Lesnar
- Steelers remain confident in defense
- Yukon pet shelter, ex-leader battle over electricity shutoff
- Seton-La Salle star WR starts fast in lopsided victory over South Park
- Rossi: Baseball needs a new schedule
- Connellsville football starts strong before succumbing to McKeesport
- Mars’ offensive stars shine in 35-6 win over Indiana