A&E Confirms Jackson Brothers Series After Footage "Leaks" to "ET"
A&E is confirming it's greenlit its Jackson family reality series, because, the network says, the celebrity suck-up show "Entertainment Tonight" "somehow" got its hands on some of the footage for the series' one-hour back-door pilot. "ET" is going to air that footage tonight.
A&E would not cough up any details about the series, including when it would debut or how many episodes had been ordered.
The footage "ET" got its hands on shows some of the Jackson brothers sitting around the family compound in Encino, Calif., talking about getting back together and going on the road...zzzzzzzzz... Oh sorry. We'll also see footage of Michael Jackson's mom, Katherine, with some of the grandkids.
No, not Michael's kids.
And no -- no Michael footage either. Yes, initial filming on this project began back in January when the King of Pop was still alive. It wrapped just days before Jackson's death, but he is not in any any of the initial footage, according to one source with knowledge of the, um, footage.
The special/pilot originally was going to be about Michael's brothers planning a new album and going on tour, to take advantage of The Jackson Five's 40th anniversary this year.
After Jackson died, the production company, Point 7, shot some more footage of the family dealing with his sudden demise.
We hear A&E found out about the leaked footage when staffers from other celebrity suck-up shows started calling A&E and saying "What the heck?!" in re having "given" it to "ET" exclusively. Apparently when celebrity suck-up shows feed their upcoming episode to their affiliated TV stations, staffers at other celebrity suck-up shows can watch it. What a racket.
Anyway, A&E says it did not give the footage to "ET" and does not know how the show got it.
A&E has been sitting in the catbird seat since Michael Jackson died on June 25, what with it having this one-hour special-cum-series-pilot already in the works.
A&E had formally announced "The Jackson Family" to advertisers way back in May, among its slate of new shows. Technically, it was not listed among the basic cable network's unscripted series pilots -- it was listed as a special.
But A&E didn't mind that The Reporters Who Cover Television hinted it might be one of those back-door pilots -- that is, a special that, in ratings success, could be turned into a series. Why wouldn't A&E want the press to plant the A&E flag in the whole Jackson-related series thing? Interest has never been higher.
"We commissioned it as a special, but we think of all our specials as back-door pilots," A&E senior veep Robert Sharenow told The TV Column, coyly, back in July.
Way back in May, A&E said of "The Jackson Family" that Jackie, Tito, Jermaine, Marlon and Randy Jackson "allow unprecedented access into their world as they embark on their most personal reunion album and tour."
Lisa de Moraes
August 25, 2009; 3:54 PM ET
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