Though Michael Jackson won’t perform at the American Music Awards in early January after all, he’ll still be performing on television that same night – on another network. CBS plans to re-broadcast the singer’s concert special, “Michael Jackson: 30th Anniversary Celebration,” with previously unseen footage of Britney Spears and Lil’ Romeo, to air against the AMAs on ABC January 9th.
Jackson’s two-hour concert special, which originally aired November 13th, gave CBS some of its highest ratings this year – it was the network’s biggest Tuesday night, excluding sports programming, since 1994. According to Nielsen Media Research estimates, an estimated 45 million people watched all or part of the special, making “Michael Jackson: 30th Anniversary Celebration” one of the highest-rated musical specials in television history. (MTV’s parent company, Viacom, also owns CBS).
A spokesperson for CBS admits that it is rare for the network to re-broadcast such an event, but said the decision to do so was made in early December, at least two weeks prior to television personality/producer Dick Clark filing a lawsuit (see “Dick Clark’s $10 Million Suit Says Grammys Kept Michael Jackson From AMAs”) that charged Jackson had dropped out of his awards special so that he wouldn’t be prevented from performing at AMA’s rival awards show, the Grammys (also airing on CBS).
At the heart of Clark’s claim was the issue of exclusivity – which he had argued was an unfair business practice, at least with regard to awards shows. That same issue is what prevented earlier footage of Spears to be included in the first broadcast of Jackson’s concert special, since their duet on “The Way You Make Me Feel,” Jackson’s #1 hit from his 1987 album, Bad, was considered a conflict with her HBO deal for the live concert special, “Britney Spears Live From Las Vegas,” that aired on that channel on November 18 (and which will re-air on HBO December 31). Spears was prohibited from appearing anywhere else on television within a month of her HBO special, causing her performance to be edited out of the November 13th broadcast. Spears is also cited in Clark’s lawsuit, which claims she pulled out of the AMAs two years ago because of pressure from the Recording Academy. The pop princess will play the AMAs this time around.
The January 9 rerun of Jackson’s special will include not only Spears’ and Jackson’s duet, but also Lil’ Romeo’s rendition of “My Baby” (which samples the Jackson 5’s “I Want You Back”), as well as other possible moments that audiences at Madison Square Garden witnessed in September but television viewers in November did not. CBS’s new version, the network spokesperson said, will have the same two-hour running time, and at press time, it hadn’t been determined what would be cut out of the special to make room for the previously unused footage, as it was still being edited.
“Michael Jackson: 30th Anniversary Celebration” airs on CBS on January 9 at 9 p.m.