Words by Ime Ekpo
On Friday, October 27th, CBS is set to premiere something of an animated one-hour special in honor of Halloween titled, Michael Jackson’s Halloween. The plot involves two millennials, Vincent and Victoria who randomly meet on the night of Halloween and end up going on a “magical adventure of personal discovery” in the company of a dog named Ichabod. Vincent and Victoria’s spooky journey starts at a hotel named This Place Hotel (also the title of one of Michael Jackson’s hits from his solo debut, Off The Wall) located on 777 Jackson St, a street clearly named after the king of pop.
The animated special is infused with the legend’s most praised spooky classics, as the plot takes its course. While the simple idea of the special seems spine-tingling, the visual appeal is raising pretty serious challenges. The trailer for Michael Jackson’s Halloween was released last Wednesday, and the lack of diversity displayed is too obvious to ignore. While one of the main character’s, Victoria, is a young black girl and voiced by biracial actress, Kiersey Clemmons, the ambiance of the special remains void to Jackson’s mastery over a soulful thriller.
Besides from Clemmons, the rest of the voice cast is caucasian, featuring actors Christine Baranski, Grad Garrett, Alan Cumming, Lucas Til, and Jim Parson, who happens to be a “Jack Skellington” like character who is dressed in MJ’s iconic Dangerous Era military attire. Also, Asian-American voice actress Lucy Liu is featured in the special.
Would the King of Pop approve this production? There is a great chance, the late legend would not, simply due to his relationship with the creators. The spook special was created by a company owned by his estate, Optimum Productions, with former Jackson attorney, John Branca and co-executor of the Michael Jackson estate, John McClain as the producers. In April 2009, Jackson wrote a small note stating a warning, “Do not trust John Branca and Sony. ATV is my catalog. I’m not selling it.” The Sony Corporation bought a 50 percent share of the catalog in 2016 for $750 million.
Post Jackson’s death, Branca was accused of submitting a fraudulent 2002 will of Jackson’s. In February 2003, Branca was fired as Jackson’s attorney and ordered to surrender any documents in his company pertaining to Jackson, which includes the wills from 1995 and 1997.
Branca tells Vanity Fair
The notion of doing something for Halloween was an easy and natural one because of Michael’s love of it and every October, ‘Thriller’ goes back to the top of the charts, so we wanted to take the next step and create something fun for families.
Could this production be a display of Branca and McClain’s ignorance against the icon’s pro-diversity moral? An abundance of Michael Jackson fans are puzzled about the make and are skeptical about watching the special, due to the controversial relations involved. Will Michael Jackson’s Halloween become the next It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown? Or will MJ fans dismiss the special out of straight up rejection?
Take a look at the trailer for Michael Jackson’s Halloween above.