Around the time of his death, there was talk both here in the USA and in the UK of Michael Jackson biopics being in development (of course we got a couple of documentaries). Nothing definite. But earlier this year, among the announcements made during Lifetime network’s TCA tour presentation was a film based on the last few years of Michael Jackson’s life, tentatively titled “Michael Jackson: Searching for Neverland,” which will be told through the eyes of his bodyguards.
Jackson will be played by Navi, considered the world’s most prominent Michael Jackson impersonator.
The project is based on the book “Remember the Time: Protecting Michael Jackson in His Final Days,” written by Motown head Berry Gordy whose former creative assistant, Suzanne de Passe, will be the executive producer.
Chad L. Coleman (“The Walking Dead”) will co-star, playing one of MJ’s most trusted bodyguards, Bill Whitefield.
Elizabeth Hunter wrote the script, and Dianne Houston is set to direct.
Production is underway in Los Angeles, with the movie set to premiere sometime later this year.
But there’s a second, lesser-known Michael Jackson project in the works. Dan Harmon (executive producer of 2015’s critically acclaimed stop-motion feature film “Anomalisa,” from Charile Kaufman), will tackle another potential work of surrealism via stop-motion animation: a Michael Jackson story, but told through the eyes of his famous pet chimpanzee, Bubbles.
Harmon acquired the screenplay for “Bubbles” as the film will be titled, penned by Isaac Adamson.
Its official synopsis reads: “A baby chimp is adopted by the pop star Michael Jackson. Narrating his own story, Bubbles the Chimp details his life within The King of Pop’s inner circle through the scandals that later rocked Jackson’s life and eventually led to Bubbles’ release.”
The script was a Black List top pick – a survey of Hollywood’s best unproduced screenplays.
Announced today, Taika David Waititi, a New Zealand film director, writer, actor, painter and comedian, is now attached to direct “Bubbles” alongside co-director Mark Gustafson, with Andrew Kortschak and Walter Kortschak of End Cue producing along with Dan Harmon’s Starburns Industries. Executive producers are Adamson and Lee Stobby.
Repped by international sales company Rocket Science, the project is being shopped to buyers at the European Film Market in Berlin, which kicked off yesterday.
“It’s an idea that fascinates me and one I want to develop further,” said Waititi. “Most people know I’m a huge Michael Jackson fan, so the main thing for me is to make sure it’s respectful of him and his legacy. I’m not interested in making a biopic; I want to focus on telling a story that blends fact and fantasy, about an animal trying to make sense of the world.”