Thursday, February 13, 2003

Fox to air Jackson's version of special

By David Bauder
The Associated Press

The Michael Jackson media wars continue, with Fox agreeing to air outtakes the singer selected from his controversial interview with a British journalist.

A two-hour special, tentatively titled Michael Jackson, Take Two: The Interview They Wouldn't Show You, is scheduled to air next Thursday (8 p.m., Channels 19, 45).

The Jackson spectacle is fodder for hungry television networks, particularly in a hotly contested ratings sweeps month. ABC's airing of Jackson's interview with Martin Bashir was last week's most popular show, seen by 27.1 million people.

Angered by how Bashir portrayed him - as an odd man-child who says he sometimes innocently lets children sleep in his bed - Jackson came forward with videotape taken during the Bashir interview by his own production company.

Jackson's British publicist said over the weekend that the footage "clearly shows that Bashir was actually continuing to praise Michael's abilities as a father and Bashir making many statements about how he feels it is a pity that the world is so quick to criticize Michael."

Fox spokesman Scott Grogin said he didn't know how much the network paid Jackson for the video. ABC reportedly paid a British TV company nearly $5 million for the Bashir interview.

Fox's special does not feature any new interviews with Jackson, Grogin said.

A Jackson spokesman, Stuart Backerman, said Fox was selected because it was the network "that packaged it with the best sensitivity to Michael Jackson." There were several that were interested, including the other top three broadcast networks, he said.

He would not comment on whether there was a payment to Jackson.

The footage also includes an extensive interview with Debbie Rowe, Jackson's former wife, he said.

Jackson was reportedly ready to give an interview to CBS 60 Minutes correspondent Ed Bradley over the weekend. But the singer got cold feet, and Bradley left Jackson's Neverland ranch in California empty-handed.

Meanwhile, VH1 cable will replay ABC's version of the Bashir interview four times this weekend: Saturday at 9 p.m., and Sunday at 10 a.m., 8 p.m. and 11 p.m.

NBC is also moving ahead with a sweeps special examining plastic surgery allegedly performed on Jackson's face (10 p.m. Monday, Channels 5, 22). ABC's Primetime Thursday looked at the same subject last Thursday, and it was the week's third most-watched show.

Different CSI: Today's CSI: Crime Scene Investigation (9:30-11 p.m., Channels 12, 7) will feature something viewers of the hit series have rarely seen in its three-year history: a character-driven story.

"It's a lot more emotionally based episode that we've created here, where the characters explore realms that they don't often go to," says Richard J. Lewis, director of the show that follows the 8-9:30 p.m. Survivor: The Amazon premiere.

"I think we needed that extra half-hour so we could delineate the two cases, plus the emotional life of our two leads," Lewis says.

For much of its life thus far, CSI has revealed personality traits through the way characters approach cases. Today it goes beyond work, getting into the minds of crime-lab chief Gil Grissom (William Petersen) and Catherine Willows (Marg Helgenberger).

Tonight Grissom investigates two deaths, both tied to a dominatrix named Lady Heather (Melinda Clarke, reprising her role from last season). During the show, Lady Heather breaks through Grissom's aloof exterior.

Meanwhile, Catherine is distraught when her ex-husband Eddie (Timothy Carhart) goes missing after a car crash that also involves their young daughter. She takes issue with the way Sara (Jorja Fox) is handling the case.

Helgenberger says she was thrilled to play scenes that weren't always about discovering clues.

"We're usually dealing with the process and the science and the case so the acting challenges are quite different," she says. "This was kind of loose and free-form compared to that."

Big dog: Clifford the Big Red Dog has a special Valentine for young viewers, two new cartoons airing twice Friday (7:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m., Channel 48). Clifford also airs at 5 p.m. on Channel 54, and 6:30 p.m. on Channel 14.

PBS' Caillou also airs a Valentine's Day special Friday (8:30 a.m., Channels 16, 54; 2 p.m. Channel 48; 5 p.m. Channel 14).

Talk shows:

Today's guests:

Live with Regis and Kelly (9 a.m., Channel 9): Ben Affleck, Goran Visnjic.

Wayne Brady (10 a.m., Channel 9): Ted Danson, Hattie Winston, Victor Garber.

The View (11 a.m., Channel 9): Christine Lahti, Vince Gill.

Caroline Rhea (3 p.m., Channel 19): Roma Downey, Margaret Cho, Olympic gold medalist Jonny Moseley.

Jimmy Kimmel Live (12:05 a.m., Channel 9): Heather Graham, Christopher Lowell.

John Kiesewetter, Zap2it and TV Data contributed to this report.

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