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Networks Prep Specials for Michael Jackson Death Anniversary; NBC News Licenses Non-NBC Interview

MJ_6-22.jpgThis Friday, ABC, NBC, and CNN will all have special coverage commemorating the one year anniversary of Michael Jackson’s passing.

NBC will air a special “Dateline” titled “Michael Jackson: A Mother’s story at 9pm Friday night. The special, which is reported by Josh Mankiewicz, will feature an interview with Jackson’s mother, Katherine Jackson, that was licensed by NBC and conducted by a woman named Sonia Lowe. Roger Friedman reported today on Showbiz 411 that the interview was produced by former MJ business partner Marc Schaffel and is “the only one with Mrs. Jackson made for the anniversary of Michael’s death.”

The only information we’ve been able to find about Lowe is that she’s the co-creator of “Never Can Say GoodBye: The Katherine Jackson Story” a coffee table book which was co-written by Mrs. Jackson.

TVNewser wondered if NBC is risking any credibility by giving up a portion of a primetime broadcast to a non-NBC journalist — who has a business relationship with the subject — to get a high profile interview? A network spokesperson tells us, “Our special will meet NBC News standards, and we will disclose to viewers the circumstances in which the interview took place.”

It’s not entirely uncommon for the news networks to air licensed interviews done by non-staffers for specials like these, but it is rare.

In addition, ABC and CNN will both also have specials on Friday evening:

  • ABC airs a special two-hour edition of “20/20″ (9pmET) titled “Michael Jackson: After Life.” It includes exclusives with Jackson’s makeup artist and stylists, a retrospective with top artists, a new tour of Neverland Ranch, and reporting from Elizabeth Vargas, Chris Cuomo, Cynthia McFadden, Chris Connelly, and Jim Avila.
  • CNN will air a documentary reported by Don Lemon titled “Michael Jackson – The Final Days” at 8pmET on Friday evening. The doc features interviews with Tito and Jermaine Jackson, among others. At 9pmET, Larry King will have a special tribute program.
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