Perhaps, but Jackson certainly didn't help his cause. The singer, 44, had plenty of jaw-dropping statements to make in the documentary, made by British journalist Martin Bashir and set to air Feb. 6 on ABC. (The network shelled out a reported $4-5 million for the U.S. rights.) Among the revelations: Jackson said he has "slept in a bed with many children," including Macaulay and Kieran Culkin; that his third child, Prince Michael II, is the product of "a surrogate mother and my own sperm cells" and that the 11-month-old "enjoyed" being dangled by Jackson from a third-floor hotel railing in Berlin last November; that ex-wife Debbie Rowe gave birth to his other children-Prince Michael I, now 5, and Paris Michael, 4—"as a present" to him; that he's had no plastic surgery other than two nose operations to let him "hit higher notes"; that he settled a 1993 child-abuse lawsuit out of court to avoid "a long, drawn-out thing on TV like O.J."; and that he would "jump off the balcony immediately" if he learned there were no children left in the world.
Not surprisingly, the British tabloids had a field day with the program, which The Sun called "the longest suicide note in history." "He's his own worst enemy," says biographer J. Randy Taraborrelli. "What he's expressing as the reality of his life is 10 times more sensational than what any tabloid has ever written about him." The program also provided fresh ammunition to Jackson's critics. "It shows he hasn't learned anything about appropriate behavior with a child," says Dr. Carole Lieberman, a Beverly Hills psychiatrist and child-welfare advocate, who launched a formal complaint against Jackson last November with California's Department of Social Services.
The singer did the interviews with Bashir over the course of eight months and "against everybody's objections," says friend and advisor Kevin McLin. But Jackson had enjoyed Bashir's 1995 interview with Princess Diana (in which she admitted to extramarital affairs) and was paid "lots of cash," according to his rep, for his participation. (Jackson, adds the spokesperson, has seen the documentary and is happy with it.) "There's no going back at this point," says Taraborrelli. "He's decided he wants to be perceived in this way, and finally he's going to get his wish."