At some point today, be prepared to field the big question: Where were you when Michael Jackson died?
Odds are you have no recollection of where you were, or what you were doing when Corey Haim or Gary Coleman died - or possibly the fact that either was dead - but most people can recall the precise moment when they heard the King of Pop had expired.
It was exactly one year ago today that the world was stunned by the news that the 50-year-old Jackson had died suddenly of heart failure. News channels seized on the story immediately and hung on for the next two weeks, with most reports beginning with, "New allegations in the death of Michael Jackson.…"
The unofficial wrap to the death-watch occurred at the official Michael Jackson memorial, held at the L.A. Staples Center last July 7, which was watched by an estimated one billion people worldwide. The live broadcast featured heartfelt tributes from a long succession of friends and family, including the late pop star's brother Marlon, who said simply, "Maybe now, Michael, they will leave you alone."
As expected, the one-year anniversary of the gloved one's passing is marked with a myriad of TV specials ranging from the scurrilous to the bizarre.
The BET approach is naturally reverent. The cable channel plans to air Jackson tributes and music videos all day, followed by the new documentary special Michael Jackson History: The King of Pop (BET, 8 p.m.). The program's highlight will be the clips of a 1980 interview with Jackson, before he was transformed into a plastic surgeon's nightmare.
And then, the homages turn a little nasty. Michael Jackson: The Final Days(CNN, 8 p.m.) is a special report helmed by CNN anchor Don Lemon. In teaser clips, the special looks to open more doors into Jackson's death, rather than provide any form of closure.
The format follows an alleged timeline of Jackson's health in the days, hours and minutes leading up to his death. Lemon also interviews Jackson siblings Tito and Jermaine, who publicly castigates his brother's physician Conrad Murray, currently standing trial accused of involuntary manslaughter.
Jarringly, the report will be followed by a special edition of Larry King Live (CNN, 9 p.m.) that will "celebrate the musical milestones Michael Jackson achieved in his lifetime." Expect appearances by Quincy Jones and Rev. Jesse Jackson.
The normally respectable news magazine 20/20 also attempts to inject new life into a dead pop star with the two-hour special Michael Jackson's Final Days (ABC, 9 p.m.).
ABC has been promoting the special all week and trumpeting several TV exclusives. Among them: An interview with Jackson's former makeup artist and personal stylist, followed by a new tour of his former Neverland Ranch.
Also on the special, reputed acquaintances talk about how the Jackson kids - Paris, Prince and Blanket - are coping with their father's death.
And in what is sure to be the special's most distasteful segment, paparazzo Ben Evenstad will show his rare video footage showing ambulance attendants attempting to transport the pop star to the hospital. These are Jackson's final moments - as filmed through the gate by a paparazzo.
Not to be outdone, Dateline NBC extends to two-hour length for the special Michael Jackson: A Mother's Story (NBC, 9 p.m.).
As you've already guessed, this will be the only television interview with Jackson's mother, Katherine, who agreed to sit down with correspondent Sonia Lowe to set the facts straight about her deceased son.
According to NBC publicity, Katherine will discuss Michael's children and the long-standing allegations that he molested other people's children. She's also supposed to address his death and give her opinion on who's responsible.
On Saturday, there's Michael Jackson's Human Nature (MTV Canada, 5 p.m.), a short documentary film in which celebrities discuss their first introduction to the pop icon.
Ergo, the eponymous Diddy tells of the party he held that Jackson crashed (he was looking for Beyoncé, apparently). Rapper Akon talks about attending an Imax screening with Jackson (while the former was wearing a Saudi disguise). And choreographer Kenny Ortega reveals how Michael was "just like us."
And while it's not confirmed, there's always the chance we could still see another viral-video tribute from those Filipino prison inmates incarcerated on the island of Cebu. Their dance routine of Jackson's Thriller music video (with a cross-dressed inmate posing as MJ's girlfriend) was watched by more than 40 million people worldwide, and was followed by another tightly choreographed routine earlier this year to promote the release of the concert film Michael Jackson: This Is It on DVD.
If these prisoners needed any inspiration to stage another dance number, this is it.
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