In time for the anniversary of Michael Jackson’s death, a new documentary with unseen footage of the performer behind the scenes will debut – in Japan.
“Michael Jackson: Inside the Private World” is the latest, but surely not the last, documentary to probe the performer’s private moments in the years before his life ended abruptly in June 2009.
The footage was shot by Jackson’s former business associate, Marc Schaffel, over three days in 2003. On one of those days, Jackson went to his birthplace of Gary, Indiana, and was greeted with an outpouring of fan and family love.
“I’d say it was the happiest time of Michael’s life,” said Schaffel in an interview with TheWrap. “He was always laughing, smiling, playing games, singing. He was unlike the other Michael you saw after the trial.”
The other footage comes from one of Jackson’s mass birthday parties at his Neverland ranch, and behind the scenes from a concert at the Orpheum.
All of the footage precedes the singer’s public shaming in his 2004 trial over alleged child molestation.
Schaffel has a great deal of footage from several years of associating with Jackson. But he has no rights to the performer’s music, none of which is part of the two-hour documentary.
Regardless, lawyers for Sony sent the producer a letter questioning whether any of the footage might impinge on their intellectual property. Sony is preparing a new album of Jackson material for release in 2011.
The film will open in 200 theaters in Tokyo on June 25, the one-year anniversary of Jackson’s death from cardiac arrest brought on by a drug overdose.
“I made this film because I believe it’s a positive portrayal of Michael in a light most never have seen him in,” said Schaffel. “It’s his own private setting, around friends and people he is comfortable with, with his guard down, acting Michael — telling jokes, laughing, singing. You get a feel for the real Michael.”