Television

VH1 will uncover Michael Jackson's Secret Childhood

 MUMBAI: One case that the media is following closely is pop icon Michael Jackson's trial in front a California judge.

But regardless of the outcome of his trial on child molestation charges, the gap between how the world views Michael and how he sees himself has never been wider.

 

In this context music and lifestyle channel VH1 explains how the beloved child entertainer became such a bizarre public figure. In India through its segment VH1 News the broadcaster will air Michael Jackson's Secret Childhood on 19 March at 10 pm.

VH1 News has examined the singer's upbringing and found a life filled with abuse, hard labour, relentless ambition, and conflict between his religious upbringing and growing fame. Beginning with Jackson's birth in 1958 to the record-breaking success of his Thriller album in 1984, the special delves deep into Jackson's past, such as the mental and physical abuse he endured from his father, Joe Jackson. This includes incessant rehearsals, whippings and humiliating Michael by calling him 'big nose'

 

 

Joe exorcised his frustrations over his own failed musical career by exploiting his musically gifted children - especially Michael - by forcing them to perform in seedy bars and strip joints from Indiana to Ohio. At the same time, the proselytising of his mother Katherine - a devout Jehovah's Witness - confused Michael about singing, sex and family secrets.

This show opens the doors to the Jackson family homes in Gary, Indiana and Encino, California to uncover bizarre, never-before-seen home movies of Michael dancing with Emmanuel Lewis and cavorting with Snow White and the Seven Dwarves. In exclusive interviews, viewers are introduced to Michael's first "little friend" the child actor Rodney Allen Rippey.

Other interviews include former CBS Records music mogul Walter Yetnikoff, the man responsible for Michael pursuing a solo music career, but knew him since his childhood years as a member of the Jackson 5, Tatiana Thumbtzen, Michael's co-star from The Way You Make Me Feel video who tells her tale of unrequited love for the shy pop star. Then there is Teresa J. Gonsalves, a childhood pen pal who got to see a side of the pop icon that very few were privileged to see.

These people, along with celebrity family therapists, biographers and religion experts, all offer their theories about the man whose public antics have become a national obsession. As far as the trial is concerned the sexual molesting case against Michael Jackson, which could put him in jail for 18 years, rests almost entirely on the confused and sometimes contradictory testimony of three siblings, none older than 18.

Defense lawyers for Jackson face a delicate balancing act in cross-examining the young witnesses. Challenging them too vigorously could turn the jury against the defense team and Jackson, who has promoted himself for years as loving children and all things childlike.

While the accuser and his siblings appear to be resolute on central aspects of the case, the halting manner of their presentation and the defense team's aggressive efforts to undermine it illustrate the difficulties in putting children on the witness stand and having their testimony stick.

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