ABC, NBC Vie for Jackson Scoop
With "Dateline NBC" poised to present the changing face of the musician for a Feb. 17 special titled "Michael Jackson Unmasked" --which reportedly will chronicle his numerous cosmetic surgery procedures -- ABC said on Thursday that it would scoop "Dateline."
The ABC documentary "Living with Michael Jackson" will be telecast Feb. 7 as a two-hour edition of news magazine "20/20," four days after it airs in Britain, reports Reuters. That's a 10-day jump on NBC, and still during the key February sweeps.
ABC reportedly paid between $4 million and $5 million to British journalist Martin Bashir for U.S. broadcast rights to the documentary, outbidding NBC and others, according to Reuters.
As PEOPLE.com reported Jan. 27, Jackson, 44, has given unprecedented access to Bashir, 39, the journalist to whom Princess Diana spilled the beans for a jaw-dropping 1995 on-camera session.
Britain's Guardian newspaper, which noted that after Osama bin Laden and the Queen, Jackson is currently the most sought-after interview subject, reported that Bashir's camera crew trailed Jackson for eight months.
Besides getting inside Jackson's Neverland Ranch in California, Bashir was also reportedly on hand last November, when Jackson dangled his infant son, Prince Michael II, from a fourth-floor hotel balcony in Germany over fans in the street below.
Jackson later apologized for his behavior.
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