Michael Jackson estate wants Conrad Murray doc shelved

The estate of Michael Jackson has hit out at NBC and MSNBC over plans to air the Zodiak Rights-distributed Michael Jackson and the Doctor: A Fatal Friendship, while prodco October Films insists it paid only $1 for access to the now convicted doctor (pictured).
November 10, 2011

The estate of Michael Jackson has hit out at NBC and MSNBC over plans to air Michael Jackson and the Doctor: A Fatal Friendship, a documentary boasting exclusive access to Dr Conrad Murray (pictured), who was this week convicted for the involuntary manslaughter of the late singer.

As first reported by realscreen late on Monday, NBC, MSNBC, Australian broadcaster Nine Network and UK net Channel 4 are among the broadcasters that are rushing to air the Zodiak Rights-distributed doc, with Nine Network set to air it first later today and MSNBC following tomorrow.

In a letter sent to Comcast, NBC and MSNBC – and posted online – John Branca and John McClain, co-executors of the estate of Michael Jackson, said the networks should “exercise proper judgment and refrain from airing this program,” arguing that Murray “is not someone NBC Universal should be giving a platform to on a primetime pedestal.”

The letter states: “MSNBC seems ready to let [Murray] say what he wants with no fear of cross-examination. According to his one-sided spin, Dr. Murray says “He asked me, ‘Please, please Dr. Conrad… I need some milk so that I can sleep. If I don’t get any sleep today, I cannot perform, I cannot do anything.’”

“Thus, MSNBC gives Conrad Murray a platform to shift the blame post-conviction to Michael Jackson, even though a jury considered the evidence and rejected this very argument.”

The executors also question whether Murray is receiving payment to appear in the film, raising an issue which is quickly becoming a hot button topic online.

Realscreen‘s first story on the documentary has so far received more than 100 comments, the vast majority of which come from Jackson fans angry over the suggestion that Murray will gain publicity and financial remuneration from the documentary.

The financial remuneration issue remains unclear at present. MSNBC has publicly stated that it has not paid any money for access to Murray, while October Films, which coproduced the doc with What’s It All About? Productions, said it paid a token sum of just $1 to gain two years worth of access to Murray.

Distributor Zodiak Rights had not responded to requests for comment regarding the controversy over the documentary at press time.

Murray faces up to four years in prison and the suspension of his medical license after a jury found the physician, who administered a powerful surgical anesthetic to Jackson hours before his death in 2009, guilty of involuntary manslaughter following a six-week trial.

About The Author
Managing editor with realscreen publication, an international print and online magazine that covers the non-fiction film and television industries. Darah is an award-winning journalist who has spent over two decades covering a wide range of issues from real estate and urban development to immigration, politics and human rights, primarily with The Vancouver Sun. Prior to joining realscreen, she was editor of Stream Daily, realscreen's sister publication covering the dynamic global digital video industry. She also served a stint as a war reporter in Afghanistan for television and print, and was a national business blogger with Yahoo Canada.