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J.J. Abrams and Tavis Smiley team up for TV series about Michael Jackson’s final days

Smiley's novelization of Jackson's last days, Before You Judge Me, to be turned into TV series

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Beyond being the host of a popular PBS interview show, Tavis Smiley has made a name for himself as a best-selling author. Last year, he teamed with mega-producer J.J. Abrams to begin developing one of his books, Death of a King: The Real Story of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s Final Year, as a TV event series. Now, Abrams and Smiley are joining forces once again to adapt the latter’s forthcoming novel about the final days of Michael Jackson.

Written alongside David Ritz, Smiley’s Before You Judge Me: The Triumph and Tragedy of Michael Jackson’s Last Days is due to hit book shelves tomorrow, June 21st. As part of a larger overall deal between the companies, Abrams’ Bad Robot Productions and Tavis Smiley TV & Film have already entered into a production deal with Warner Bros. Television for an event series based on the novel.

Before You Judge Me is said to be a “novelization” of the last 16 weeks of Jackson’s life, exploring the ups and downs of a musical icon who struggled to retain privacy while being constantly forced into the spotlight. Smiley wrote the novel based on interviews with the likes of Quincy Jones, Berry Gordy, and Janet Jackson, as well as trial transcripts and documents surrounding the case against Dr. Conrad Murray, Jackson’s personal physician.

No studio is yet attached to air the mini series, though WBTV is said to be shopping it around to multiple broadcast, cable, premium cable, and streaming services. Abrams, who recently entered the genre of music-based TV series with Cameron Crowe’s Roadies on Showtime, will executive produce Before You Judge Me with Smiley, Ben Stephenson, and David Brewington.

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