NBC Offered to Ditch Negative Jackson special for interview

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[b]NBC Offered Jackson Deal to Pre-empt Documentary Criticizing Him[/b] By SHARON WAXMAN Published: January 21, 2004 NBC came late to the network bidding war last year over an interview with Michael Jackson, which was to be timed for the February sweeps. On the auction block were a proposed interview with Mr. Jackson and videotapes taken by the Jackson camp, including a rare interview with his former wife and another of a conversation between Mr. Jackson and a British journalist, Martin Bashir. Network officials knew that Fox had the inside track, but NBC chose to play a valuable card in its hand. NBC made a written offer to pre-empt an investigative program into Mr. Jackson by “Dateline,” an NBC News program, an offer that the Jackson side understood to mean the segment’s cancellation, a senior Jackson adviser said, not just its indefinite postponement, as NBC insists. In an e-mail message sent on Feb. 15, 2003, Marc Graboff, an NBC business executive, urged Mr. Jackson’s representatives to consider a bid of “$5 million for the exclusive rights to the footage and the interview.” Mr. Graboff then added: “Unlike with other networks, the acquisition of the rights to this special on NBC will have the added benefit of pre-empting NBC’s planned broadcast of the one-hour Dateline scheduled for Feb. 17.” The message was copied to the executive producer of “Dateline” and to the president of NBC Entertainment. When first reported a year ago, deep in a Washington Post gossip column, Mr. Graboff said the offer “was not a quid pro quo: ‘You give us the interview, and we’ll kill the Dateline special.’ ” But a close adviser to Mr. Jackson who negotiated with NBC said the offer had been precisely that. “They said they would remove it, that they would not run the special if we gave them the interview,” said the adviser, who spoke on condition of anonymity. “They would get rid of the special.” In the end, the Jackson adviser said, the deal with Fox went ahead for more than $5 million, even without an interview with Mr. Jackson, his advisers said, and the NBC offer was spurned. “Dateline” expanded its Jackson segment to two hours, and it ran on Feb. 17. Titled “Michael Jackson Unmasked,” the special was critical and featured Mr. Jackson’s extensive plastic surgery and his ties to a former producer of pornographic films, Marc Schaffel. :nav [url=]Read FULL Article[/url] …so much for NBC criticizing CBS. :crackingup

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