Over the summer A&E is presenting an original documentary series called Cultureshock which takes a deep dive into some of pop culture’s biggest moments. Produced by Meredith Corporation’s Four M Studios in association with Entertainment Weekly, the series begins with Michael Jackson’s Final Curtain Call which aired on June 25th, 9 years to the day following the death of the King of Pop.
The episode opens with Michael preparing to launch his comeback tour, aptly titled “This is It” in March of 2009. Tickets sold out quickly around the globe and Michael, who was already in ill health, was pushing himself to mount a tour that would be the most demanding undertaking of his career. His reputation had taken a beating with the trials in 2004-2005 and his growing family had made more headlines than his music for almost a decade. This was his chance to make things right with a world that, through it all, still loved his music. The pressure he put on himself to make this tour a success was unimaginable.
On screen, we see a running list of drugs administered to Michael following a rigorous rehearsal that left him unable to sleep on the night of June 24th. The 911 call that came in the next morning plays in the background. While the story unfolds inside the house, the world outside begins to find out what is happening, not through verified news reporting, but through a new media that is powered by people on the ground feeding unconfirmed tips to TMZ.
Michael’s death was a story that rocked the world but it wasn’t an easy one to report on. Veteran news teams struggled to keep up with events as social media took hold of the story and information was leaked out before it could be confirmed. Suddenly, everyone was a journalist and photos were snapped and distributed before news cameras could even get to the scene. For the Jackson family, who had lived their entire lives in the spotlight, this new media presented a series of challenges in preparing to bury their brother who had been hunted by fans and the media his entire life.
More than just a retelling of Michael’s last days, this story is about how Michael lived his life being hounded by fans and the media and how the resulting loss of a proper childhood played out in the misfortunes of his adult life. And how a growing social media trend turned into a place where fans from around the world could gather together online for the first time and share their grief and how the death of the King of Pop shattered the norms of live news reporting.
You can watch Michael Jackson’s Final Curtain Call on demand or on the A&E website. Tonight Cultureshock takes a look at the Osbournes and how the first family of reality television opened up their homes to America and the scrutiny that came with their success. The Osbournes: The Price of Reality airs at 9:00 p.m. ET on A&E. New episodes air Mondays and will also cover The Rise of Trash TV kings Jerry Springer and Geraldo Rivera, Freaks and Geeks: The Documentary and Chris Rock’s Bring the Pain.