Friday, June 26, 2009

Mini Liveblog: Ellen and Gellar on Today on Michael Jackson

Today has, so far, not gone too bonkers about the death of someone who last made a decent record two decades ago - surprisingly, even the Thought For The Day contributor stuck to their prepared piece on the burkha rather than trying to work up some god-themed observation.

But the 8.10 slot is still going to be about him.

Mark Ellen is there, which makes sense. Uri Gellar, though, is also popping up, using the "close friend" card which he's been dining out well on since the last time he saw the man - sometime back round 2003, apparently.

James Naughtie is working through an obituary package - at least this is one place where you won't expect "King of Pop" to be used as if it was a genuine title rather than a self-awarded marketing slogan.

Naughtie has a bit of 2001 when Jackson tried to blame the lack of sales of Invincible on some sort of racially-inspired under-performance by Sony Records marketing department.

David Hepworth is Tweeting that Today called Thriller a comeback album - "no it wasn't", he says. Although this seems to be a new theme being developed today, that it was a "comeback" from the tailspin induced by puberty, Mr Hepworth is right on this one.

Gellar seems to be leaving a pause before every answer. Perhaps we're meant to imagine he's calling on a satellite phone from 2003.

"I have to face the reality" says Uri, for the first time in his life. "He was here a few times in my house... this very room... He said to me 'Uri Gellar, I'm a very lonely man'."

For a man who supposedly was a close friend, his viewpoint seems strangely like a man who read about him in People magazine.

"He didn't understand" is Gellar's take on the children in bedroom stories - it's funny, everyone keeps saying how clever and shrewd Jacko was, how knowing, and how his public image of being a child and eccentric was just a front for the media. Until they get to the child abuse stories, when all of a sudden they decide he wasn't.

It was, it turns out, the anxiety of having to play 50 dates that did for him, in Uri's opinion.

"I'm not a doctor" concludes Gellar.

Mark Ellen on now, so we'll get a bit more sense. Naughtie lining up one of his overlong questions.

"It's a shame that even today we can't look back through this mire of soap opera and remember his artistic achievements" says Mark, going on to list them. An old-fashioned pop star is his conclusion.

"But he was also Wacko Jacko" says James, helpfully.

"He had no emotional hold on the world at all" says Mark Ellen, but it's hard to see how you could manipulate emotions (which is what marketing is, effectively) if you didn't have any themselves.

I could have done with hearing a bit more Mark, a bit less Uri.

Mark Thompson, amusingly, has been waiting in the wings for his organisation's flagship news show to interview him while the former editor of Smash Hits and a bloke who bends spoons on variety shows takes the plum 8.10 slot.