Michael Jackson will forever be immortal through his music and influence. Spike is planning to tell his story, however, through film, taking fans on a journey through the life and career of one of the greatest artists to ever live.
“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. I think people are beginning to refocus on Michael Jackson’s music now.”
He’s making sure this one is going to be big, so he’s collaborating with a bucket load of musicians, choreographers and filmmakers to make this an experience like no other.
“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 it doesn’t happen like that — these people bust their (butts). Michael Jackson sang for his supper from the time he was five.” Interviews for the documentary include conversations about Michael’s influence as well as the pressures of dealing with stardom at his level.
Lee didn’t fulfill his wish list for the documentary entirely.
“I really wanted to get Quincy Jones,” who produced Bad as well as Thriller and its predecessor, 1979’s Off the Wall. “But we couldn’t work it out with his schedule, so we had to use archival interviews.” Lee also sought out Wesley Snipes, who appeared in Scorsese’s video for Bad. “I visited Wesley in prison,” where the actor is currently serving a three-year sentence for failure to file federal income tax returns, but Lee wasn’t granted permission to shoot. “It’s too bad, because he has some amazing stories.”
Though Lee himself worked with Jackson, directing a pair of short films for the pop star’s 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. He was going through some things then.”