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Spike Lee's love letter to Michael Jackson

EDIT CONTAINS CONVERTED 4:3 MATERIAL. ROUGH CUT (NO REPORTER NARRATION) STORY: Director Spike Lee brought his documentary about the making of Michael Jackson's 1987 album "Bad" to Venice on Friday (Augsut 31), telling reporters his film was a 'love letter' to the dead pop star. "Bad 25" may border on hagiography at times, but live footage and the singer's attention to detail when at the peak of his powers are a reminder of why he remains the "King of Pop". "What Michael Jackson means to me is really embodied in this documentary because I am not trying to sound trite but for me this is a love letter to Michael Jackson," Lee told reporters. The two-hour documentary, which has its world premiere at the Venice film festival on Friday, is a familiar mix of talking heads - choreographers, producers and stars - and film of concerts, rehearsals and music videos. Lee said he wanted to remember Jackson for his talent, rather than all the controversy surrounding his life and death. Released to coincide with the 25th anniversary of Jackson's acclaimed follow-up to "Thriller", Lee provides few surprises for Jackson aficionados, but paints a picture of a genius at work who cared about every step of the production process. The documentary has the backing both of the singer's estate and his record label, giving Lee access to many of the key players in the making of what is regarded as a milestone album. Among the novelties is footage taken by Jackson himself, using a handheld camera, of Siedah Garrett singing "Man in the Mirror", the song she co-wrote for the star, a cappella save for an off-camera clicking of fingers laying down the beat. There are also small yet enlightening insights and hints as to Jackson's true character, be it his interest in women, competitive spirit, professional drive or obsession over the smallest riff and dance step. The film portrays Jackson's competitive streak that drove him to try to top the sensational success of his 1982 album "Thriller", still the best-selling album of all time, with Bad five years later. He even scrawled "100,000,000" on his mirror to remind him of his target. While industry estimates vary widely, Thriller is estimated to have sold between 60-110 million copies worldwide, while Bad went on to sell 30-45 million.

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