By Robyn Collins
Memorial Day will give us the first chance to watch a made-for-TV movie, Michael Jackson: Searching for Neverland, based on the book Remembering the Time: Protecting Michael Jackson in His Final Days, written by the late superstar’s bodyguards Bill Whitfield and Javon Beard.
The biopic stars a well-known Jackson impersonator, Navi, as the King of Pop, alongside Chad L. Coleman as Whitfield and Sam Adegoke as Beard.
Navi told CBS News that he would have liked to have had the family’s blessing, but it wasn’t necessary.
“Is it important to me? Of course, because I wouldn’t like to hear that someone didn’t support the project. But, I didn’t do this project from a business point of view. I do this project from my heart, from a Michael Jackson fan’s point of view. So it doesn’t matter which company and businesses and associates, whatever, do or don’t support us. Fans want it told.”
Coleman, 42, defended the project, stating that it depicts the musician’s everyday life. “At the end of the day, Bill Whitfield had a personal experience with Javon Beard. And it is with integrity and character, so there’s nothing salacious here. You know, the men had so many people turn the book down because they said Michael appeared too normal. But that’s what we’re going for. We’re trying to show you the man.”
Jackson’s estate issued a statement on Monday, May 22, denouncing the movie in addition to a Netflix project about the singer.
“To clear up any confusion or misperceptions about unsanctioned Michael Jackson projects currently in the news — including a Lifetime television movie and an animated film script recently purchased by Netflix — the Estate of Michael Jackson does not license or permit the use of any rights it owns, including to Michael’s music, images, video and films, for use in unauthorized works seeking to exploit Michael’s legacy.”
The musician died of cardiac arrest at age 50 in June 2009. He was survived by his three children: Prince, 20, Paris, 18, and Blanket, 15.
Michael Jackson: Searching for Neverland premieres on Lifetime Monday, May 29, at 8:00 p.m. ET.