Michael Jackson estate demands Discovery Channel cancel autopsy show

Michael Jackson’s estate is demanding the Discovery Channel call off plans for a prime time show set to air Jan. 13 in the United Kingdom claiming to re-enact the star’s autopsy, the Associated Press is reporting. In an open letter sent to Discovery Communications on Wednesday, John Branca and John McClain of Jackson’s estate condemned the show as “in shockingly bad taste,” and inspired only “blind desire to exploit Michael’s death, while cynically attempting to dupe the public into believing this show will have serious medical value.” Especially at issue was a print advertisement for the show of a body covered with a sheet, with one hand exposed wearing Jackson’s iconic sequined glove; Branca and McClain call the ad “debased, sick and insensitive.”

When reached by EW, U.S. and international reps for the Discovery Channel had no comment. Fans of the late singer started an online petition protesting the programming earlier this month that now has more than 9,000 signatures. On Dec. 13, the group posted a response it received from the Discovery Networks Viewer Relations department: “We are very sorry to hear that you have been disappointed by the scheduled broadcast of Michael Jackson’s Autopsy. Our programming covers a wide variety of topics, which we appreciate at times may not suit the tastes of some of our viewers,” it reads. “Michael Jackson was one of the world’s most important music artists in modern times. Throughout his life there was wide-ranging speculation about medical conditions that affected him. This documentary examines at the actual medical facts around those conditions to determine the true cause of his death, utilizing the official coroners’ report and professional opinions from a range of leading medical experts. We value all of our viewers’ feedback and will pass your comments on to the programming department.”


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  • Randi

    This is really sick. MJ can’t even get a break in death. What possible facination could be found in the airing of this show? Maybe they should first do an recreation of one their families autopsy on TV. It may not draw the audience that MJ would, but that’s not the point. Put yourself in the Jackson family’s shoes.

    • AK

      How is this exploitation of MJ’s death any different than the posthumous album “he” recently released? Oh right, MJ’s estate benefits from the latter.

    • Matt

      A disgusting idea and a disgusting move by Discovery. I sincerely hope heads have rolled over this one.

      Discover should be ashamed of themselves for even thinking this would be acceptable. They didn’t see the sense of their subsequent postponement by their own volition.

      It was forced on them by the combined efforts of supporters and fans of Jackson, who not only have a bank of hard evidence to prove Jackson was innocent of the crimes he was accused of while he lived — but also know that if not for the still continuing assault on his name and family — this program would never have been contemplated by Discovery.

      An absolute disgrace.

  • Deb

    He’s gone leave him alone. Why put his kids and family threw it.

  • Lance

    Why didn’t they cut open Anna Nicole Smith on nation televison? And Farrah Fawcett for that matter? I think we have a bigger issue…sexism.

    • V

      Well said…

  • Lloyd Kessel

    Anything written, filmed, or performed after Michael’s death has the possibility of being used for commercial gain. But it is also the only chance his fans to be given a rare look at the last of his performances. This it It isn’t what I expected, but it dispelled rumors that he wasn’t going to perform in London. Now let him rest in peace.

  • Art

    That’s right. And if anyone is going to do something “in shockingly bad taste,” and inspired only ”blind desire to exploit Michael’s death”, it’s going to be his family. Now if they get a cut, it’s full steam ahead

    • CLEO2U

      EXACTLY!
      They should now be known as the “ANYthing for a buck Jacksons”.

      • Lisa

        You should be ashamed of yourself, his family would not exploit his death, if anything I think they have been very patient with all what the media and non-fans have said. This was a family (large) that had different personalities, and yes some disfunction, but a family that loved each other. So lay off them, they are still grieving, and think of his children. This is not right, and people need to get off their high horse and not judge, remember you are only hearing what the media is saying…and we all know HOW we can TRUST the media…they will lie for a buck..

    • NB

      Word! Jermaine would support it if he could host.

      • Lisa

        Do you not think that the Jacksons have talent…they did. Jermaine was the main singer before Michael came into the group and if you listen to his voice it is good. He can make his own money. We are the ones that have said all this about his family. We do not know what the dynamics were in the family. So stop judging…remember, the finger you point at someone, you have four pointing back at you…

    • datruth82

      Agreed to a point. His brothers and LaToya would probably do anything for a dollar at this point, but the other problem is that while Michael was extremely asset-rich (Beatles catalog, his own work, real estate, etc.), he was cash/liquid poor (those things take time to move/sell, and even more so in a recession). So, he unfortunately left a ton of debt for those left behind. And, those obligations have to be fulfilled. That’s the motivating force behind the estate handlers. They have legal obligations to handle those debts, loans, liens, etc. Now, as for his family, Michael trusted her mother implicitly. And, loved his children unconditionally. So, it’s possible that he wouldn’t have a problem with that group being taken care of through the sales, auctions, movies, videos, etc. Everyone else (except maybe Janet and Rebee (sp?)) are kind of question marks. Their motives aren’t so clear. But, as greedy as even that group seems, I can’t imagine them wanting to profit from this. This is just sick.

  • Anna

    It’s disrespectful the family of Michael Jackson for Discovery to air this program. It’s also irresponsible to prejudice a jury before the Murray trial. I can’t believe they act in such bad taste. Then to include the iconic glove in the ad. Discovery should not find this kind of morbid programming acceptable.

  • Tom

    It is the estate’s executors job to make money for his kids. If that includes what you consider exploitation, so what. It’s what Jackson himself would want if it helps his kids. On the other hand the Discovery Channel airing of this will not help his kids.

    It’s disrespectful to do something like this whoever the deceased is. I can’t believe there are enough people wanting to watch a program like this to warrant it. Those people need to get a life.

  • SWB

    It is sad to realize that for some people this kind of show is entertainment, sort of like hangings and so on. Some people settle in with popcorn. Too bad, really, too damn bad. It would never be done to a Kurt Cobain, or a Heath Ledger, or any white person. Just MJ because he was a black man.

    • TDGirl

      YouYour seriously going to play the race card on this? As sick as it is and as much as I disagree with the idea….your logic is flawed….Heath Ledger and Kurt Cobain had no impact in Europe like MJ did….it has nothing to do with white or black here…it’s about poor taste.

      • datruth82

        Agreed, although I won’t lie. His race did immediately cross my mind, when I heard about this. Then, I remembered that back in middle and high school we watched the video of JFK’s body being identified (with the gunshot wound in place), when learning about his assassination. It was disturbing and unkind to say the least. I felt so horrible for his family, just knowing that kind of footage was out there.

  • meowser

    Yuck.

  • MJFAN

    wow… poor guy.. Can’t even find peace and L.O.V.E in his death.. Thats all he ever wanted for everyone in this world.. This just makes me so angry that they would do such a disrespectful show..

  • stephen

    let the show begin I like true shows on the discovery channel the ones about drug addicts are the best .Michael was hoping that the doctors would invent a new drug so he could try that one to

    • Matt

      @ Stephen

      How does it feel to be the biggest cretin here?

  • stephen

    one thing about Michael was he was a big pig he wouldn’t share with his own mother or anyone else and I hate dope addicts that don’t share

  • TJ. Church

    This is no worse than the first (of probably many) album(s) after his death.

  • fred

    he was weird in life so hy should his death be any different

  • LibelFreeZone

    It’s not uncommon for simulated autopsies to be performed for educational purposes on synthetic cadavers. The distinction is that those synthetic cadavers are not identified as representing a specific person. In the case of Michael Jackson, it’s clear that ethical considerations were completely steamrolled in favor of exploiting an internationally beloved superstar for ratings.

    Oprah Winfrey’s new network is about to be rolled out, isn’t it? It’s likely that in a bid to convince sponsors that Winfrey can deliver the eyeballs, some young turk in the Discovery advertising department thought this travesty of a program would be a good idea. What idiots work for Discovery? Heads should roll over this bone head decision.

    • Fridge

      But Oprah’s OWN is taking over Discovery Health, which is a different station entirely, isn’t it? Besides, do you really think Oprah of all people would sign off on something like this?

      • Sense

        Yes, she would.

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