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Spike Lee’s “Bad 25” Celebrates Michael Jackson the Artist

A week before the 30th anniversary of Michael Jackson’s Thriller, ABC will air an edited version of Michael Jackson: Bad 25, Spike Lee’s documentary on the King of Pop. ABC’s version of the film is almost an hour shorter than the version that debuted at the Venice International Film Festival, which was warmly received. Bad 25 coincided with a special 25th anniversary release of the album, and follows creative process behind some of the iconic music videos spawned from the album, including “Dirty Diana” and “Smooth Criminal.”

Lee utilizes behind the scenes clips from those shoots along with interviews from a range of stars, including Martin Scorsese, Sheryl Crow and Jackson’s producer Quincy Jones. Jackson’s drive and dedication to his craft are on full display, as he worked to create an album in Bad that would outsell Thriller, his original masterpiece. Even the album’s cover is subject for examination in the film, one of the first appearances of the black studded leather that would define Jackson’s image into the 90s.

“I’m almost dressed like that today,” Kanye West says of the classic look in the film.

Bad 25 keeps the habit of celebrating Jackson as an artist, rather than focusing on the personal turmoil that characterized his later years. During the production for Bad Jackson was at the height of his career, but he refused to let his fame define his work. It was Jackson’s work ethic that kept him at the top of pop culture for decades.

“I was born in 1957, he was born in ’58,”Lee told reporters at a press conference for the film’s Venice premiere. “And when I saw the Jackson Five on The Ed Sullivan Show, I wanted to be Michael Jackson. I had the Afro, the whole Jackson look. But the singing and dancing — that’s where it stopped.”

Viewers can catch the documentary Thanksgiving night at 9:30 on ABC.

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