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All stories relating to Michael Jackson

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Michael Jackson bio spins off into documentary

Less than a year ago, Transit Media – the latest venture from discredited Montreal businessman Pierre Turgeonhit the jackpot when it published a biography of Michael Jackson that appeared mere days after the King of Pop’s death. The book, titled Unmasked: The Final Years of Michael Jackson and written by journalist Ian Halperin, is now being turned into a documentary that will be released by Transit in Canada and France on June 25, the one-year anniversary of Jackson’s death. Variety reports:

Author-filmmaker Ian Halperin is behind Gone Too Soon, an 88-minute documentary about Jackson that is culled from 300 hours of footage shot inside the singer’s camp.

[...]

Footage in Gone Too Soon includes video and audio of Jackson shot before his death. It also includes interviews with Jackson’s personal manager, chef, spiritual adviser, hairstylist, trainer, protective agent, and attorney.

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Bookmarks: a small town book tour, inappropriate books for kids, and Walt Whitman selling jeans

Bookish links from across the Web:

  • Test your celebrity poet knowledge over at Details and guess which verses have been written by Michael Jackson, Mr. Spock, Jewel, or William Butler Yeats
  • Battle of the sexes, poetry edition: Do women write “female” poetry? 
  • Sarah Palin’s Going Rogue tour skips San Francisco and Los Angeles and makes stops in Noblesville, Indiana, and Rochester, New York 
  • Don’t tell Scholastic: a new blog dedicated to inappropriate books for kids
  • Recordings of Walt Whitman reading “Pioneers! O Pioneers!” and “America” are being used in Levi’s Jeans new ad campaign. Controversial use of a dead poet’s work or clever marketing strategy? Slate Magazine discusses
  • Kazuo Ishiguro “auditions” characters to narrate his novels. Colum McCann will print out chapters of his incomplete book, staple them together, and take them to Central Park, pretending to be reading someone else’s work. The Wall Street Journal interviews 11 top authors about their writing habits

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Bookmarks: Melancholy Whores on pause, B.C. Government hates books and more

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Bookmarks: snobbery in the age of Kindle, Kerouac and the canon, and bigamy proves a boon

Some book-related links:

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Fawcett and Rand: friends forever

When famous people die, you never know what murky details from their personal lives will come to light. In the most recent spate of celebrity deaths, some of the most amusing – and yet, benign – details to emerge have had a literary bent: apparently, Michael Jackson was a close reader of Emerson, Freud, and Jung. It also turns out that Farrah Fawcett and Ayn Rand were friends. From The Daily Beast:

[H]ere are a few things that almost no one knew about Fawcett:

1) Fawcett and the writer Ayn Rand shared a birthday, February 2.

2) Rand, the inventor of the philosophical system called Objectivism, never missed an episode of Charlie’s Angels. She was such a Fawcett fan, in fact, that she sought to cast the actress as the lead in a planned TV miniseries version of her best-known work, the gargantuan novel Atlas Shrugged. (NBC later scrapped the project).

3) Rand, perhaps better than anyone else, helped Fawcett understand her place in American culture.

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Discredited Montreal publisher back in business with new Jackson bio

Montreal publisher Pierre Turgeon – who pleaded guilty last March to charges of fraud – appears to have rebounded from the bankruptcy of his old publishing firm, Trait d’union. Not only is he back with a new publishing venture, called Transit Publishing, he may well have hit the jackpot with one of his initial releases: a new biography of Michael Jackson, which will include about 50 pages of material pertaining to the pop star’s death.

According to Turgeon, the book, originally titled Michael Jackson: Return from Exile, was submitted to the printer last Wednesday, the day before Jackson died. On the following evening, Turgeon stopped the presses so that author Ian Halperin could have a few days to whip up additional material about the last weeks of Jackson’s life and the circumstances surrounding his death. The revised version, which goes to press today and is likely to arrive in stores late next week, is titled Unmasked: The Final Years of Michael Jackson.

Turgeon says that Halperin – an investigative journalist who has published unauthorized bios of Kurt Cobain, Céline Dion, and several other celebrities – spent five years researching and writing the book and had intimate access to Jackson and his entourage. A lengthy excerpt of the new material has been published online by the U.K.’s Daily Mail and will reportedly be excerpted in a future issue of US magazine.

Turgeon’s former creditors, who were left in the lurch for at least $1.7-million when Trait d’union went bankrupt in 2005, must have been shocked to see his name in the headlines so soon after the unseemly demise of his last publishing venture. In March, when Turgeon pleaded guilty to fraud charges in a Quebec court, he was ordered to pay a $5,000 fine and to do several hours of community service. (Incredibly, the judge in the case decreed that Turgeon should spend time teaching the value of reading to schoolchildren.) Turgeon’s former partner in Trait d’union, Julien Beliveau – who successfully sued Turgeon for more than $600,000 but has yet to see a penny – said he is appalled that Turgeon is allowed to be back in business. “It is just beyond belief,” he told Q&Q. Beliveau added that because Transit Publishing is an entirely separate company, he is unable to bring a new lawsuit against it. “[Turgeon] can do whatever he wants. He is off the hook.”

Remarkably, this isn’t the first time that Transit has been in the news since it was founded in February. Another of its titles, a controversial biography of the founder of Cirque du Soleil, entitled Guy Laliberté: The Fabulous Story of the Creator of Cirque du Soleil (also written by Halperin), recently landed Turgeon in legal trouble over the unauthorized use of a photo of a trapeze artist on the front cover, and had to be reissued with a new cover. An excerpt from the book generated significant controversy when it was printed in Maclean’s earlier this month.

Transit currently employs four full-time staffers, including Turgeon and his son, François.

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