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Michael Jackson's 'This Is It' single just gets it started

A traveling exhibition, album and movie about the King of Pop are also due.

September 24, 2009|Chris Lee

So this is "It."

Sony Music announced Wednesday that on Oct. 12 it will issue a new Michael Jackson single called "This Is It" -- the first previously unreleased recording to be put on sale since the superstar's death.

The song's debut will be followed by a blitz of posthumous releases from the man remembered as the King of Pop, including a traveling exhibition of Jackson memorabilia and a two-disc album also titled "This Is It" (which hits retail internationally Oct. 26 and in North America on Oct. 27), featuring music that "inspired" the Sony Pictures movie "Michael Jackson's This Is It."

The feature-length movie arrives in theaters Oct. 28 for a limited two-week run and consists of rehearsal footage shot during the preparations for Jackson's planned comeback: a 50-date concert engagement, also titled "This Is It," at London's O2 Arena.

For The Record
Los Angeles Times Saturday, September 26, 2009 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 4 National Desk 1 inches; 65 words Type of Material: Correction
Michael Jackson: An article in Thursday's Calendar section about the release of a new single and album from the late Michael Jackson said that the estate of rapper Tupac Shakur has put out five albums since his death that have all cracked the national album chart's Top 10. The sentence should have specified that it was meant in reference to albums of previously unreleased material.

Three thousand tickets for the first screenings of the movie will go on sale at downtown Los Angeles' L.A. Live just after midnight Sunday morning. Anticipating a massive crowd at the live performance complex, however, parent company AEG will officially open the line today at 5 p.m., offering free parking for campers and promising "music will be provided."

According to a news release, the first disc of the "This Is It" album features original recordings of many of the performer's biggest hits -- i.e., sonically identical versions of songs included on other Jackson albums -- sequenced as they appear in the movie.

The CD ends with two versions of the song "This Is It," which includes backing vocals by the singer's brothers, the Jacksons.

Disc 2 contains "previously unreleased versions" of some of Jackson's most popular tracks -- in other words, it could contain alternative arrangements of some of the same songs on Disc 1 -- as well as a spoken-word poem, "Planet Earth," by the entertainer that has not been publicly heard until now.

Keith Caulfield, senior chart manager and analyst for Billboard magazine, pointed out that the superstar's greatest hits album "Number Ones" is already the top-selling album of the year and that interest in the film is likely to draw even more attention to the singer's musical output.

Asked about the public appetite for new music from Jackson, Caulfield said, "Right now, anything new from Michael Jackson is going to be a significant seller."

"It's certain that fans will want the recording tied to the film," he said. " 'This Is It' seems certain to do big business with fans wanting a keepsake, just like all the 'Twilight' kids want the soundtrack because it reminds them of the film. You never know, it may be that Michael will have another No. 1 on the album chart this year."

The announcement about new Jackson music follows the decision last week by Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Mitchell Beckloff to allow a soundtrack for "This Is It" to be released simultaneously with the theatrical roll-out of the documentary. Jeryll S. Cohen, an attorney for the special administrators of Jackson's estate -- John Branca and John McClain -- had argued that the deal would provide the estate with "an immediate and substantial cash advance from Sony."

Further capitalizing on the rabid gusto for all things Jackson-related, AEG Live, the promoter of the singer's London concerts, announced Wednesday that it will mount a traveling exhibition of Jackson memorabilia.

"Michael Jackson: The Official Exhibition" will debut in London on Oct. 28 for a limited three-month run at the O2 Bubble, a gallery space that is attached to the AEG-owned O2 Arena.

Sanctioned by the Jackson estate, the exhibition will include more than 250 items from the superstar's Neverland Ranch -- such as awards, video costumes, his famous sequined glove and personal Rolls-Royce -- chronicling "Michael's rise to fame with the Jackson 5 at Motown Records, his record-breaking solo career as a global superstar, and end with the spectacular shows he had planned," a news release said.

The exhibition is described as being divided into galleries that reflect milestones in the performer's life and his humanitarian efforts.

Death has proved no barrier to the continuing success of such artists as Elvis Presley and Frank Sinatra. The estate of gangsta rapper Tupac Shakur, who was murdered in 1996, has put out five posthumous albums that have all managed to crack the national album chart's Top 10.

As well, former Jackson confidantes continue to emerge, providing new insights into the King of Pop. NBC announced on Wednesday that the news program "Dateline" will air a special called "The Michael Jackson Tapes: A 'Dateline' Exclusive" on Friday.

Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, a member of Jackson's inner circle from 1999 to 2001, recorded some 30 hours of interviews with the superstar -- recordings that have Jackson speaking about his fear of aging ("I don't want to grow old"), keeping mannequins around for company (because the singer was "too shy to be around real people") and Jackson's life experiences.

"Anyone else would probably be dead now, or a junkie, with what I've been through, Shmuley," Jackson is quoted as having said on one of the tapes.

--

Times staff writer Todd Martens contributed to this report.

chris.lee@latimes.com

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