Critics are describing the British documentary "Living with Michael Jackson" as a journalist's attempt to understand, not exploit, his subject.
The disgraced pop star, however, says he feels "betrayed" by the "terrible and unfair program," which he says deliberately portrayed him in a negative light.
"Today I feel more betrayed than perhaps ever before; that someone, who had got to know my children, my staff and me, whom I let into my heart and told the truth, could then sacrifice the trust I placed in him and produce this terrible and unfair program," Jackson complains in a statement, which also slams Bashir as a ratings chaser.
After scoring a ratings bonanza in the United Kingdom earlier this week, the program was set to air in the United States Thursday night on ABC's "20/20."
British celebrity journalist Martin Bashir, best-known for his tell-all 1995 interview with Diana, Princess of Wales, trailed Jackson for eight months to research and film the documentary, in which Jackson claims his face has only been operated on twice and argues there is nothing wrong with his sleeping in the same bed as other people's children or dangling his infant son over a balcony. He also defends his choice to make his own kids cover their faces with veils or masks when they leave the house.
Despite Jackson's grousing, the program's producer, Grenada Television, stands by the story.
"It's not surprising that a film about him, which is so open and revealing, draws some hostile reaction and comment about him. It's regrettable that Michael should feel devastated as a result of that but perhaps it's inevitable," the company says in a statement.
WGA ANNOUNCES NOMINEES
The Writers Guild of America announced nominees for its best original and adapted film screenplay awards Thursday.
Competing for the award for Best Original Screenplay are Antwone Fisher for "Antwone Fisher," Michael Moore for "Bowling for Columbine," Todd Haynes for "Far From Heaven," Jay Cocks, Steven Zaillian and Kenneth Lonergan for "Gangs of New York," and Nia Vardalos for "My Big Fat Greek Wedding."
Nominations for the Best Adapted Film Screenplay are Peter Hedges and Chris Weitz & Paul Weitz for "About a Boy," Alexander Payne and Jim Taylor for "About Schmidt," Charlie and (the fictional) Donald Kaufman for "Adaptation," Bill Condon for "Chicago" and Davide Hare for "The Hours."
Winners of the 55th Annual Writers Guild Awards will be announced March 8.
NY KICKS OFF FASHION WEEK
Fashionistas from around the globe are once again descending on the Big Apple for Fashion Week.
The runway marathon begins Friday afternoon and runs through the evening of Feb. 14. Most of the shows are scheduled to take place under huge white tents erected in midtown Manhattan's Bryant Park.
Among the designers and companies showing off creations from their fall 2003 collections are Nicole Miller, Anne Klein, Tommy Hilfiger, Betsey Johnson, Perry Ellis, Custo Barcelona, Nautica, Sean John and even Joe Boxer.
B'WAY 'DAMES' TO PERFORM FOR CHARITY
The stage and screen legends are scheduled to perform in "Nothing Like a Dame 2003," an event known as the 8th annual "Thinking Women's Vaudeville" organized to benefit The Phyllis Newman Women's Health Initiative of the Actors' Fund of America.
The one-night event is scheduled for March 3 at Broadway's St. James Theatre.
Also expected to participate are Mario Cantone, Melissa Errico, Harvey Fierstein, Whoopi Goldberg, Amanda Green, Joan Hamburg, Marissa Jaret Winokur, Judy Kaye, Bebe Neuwirth, Phyllis Newman, Cynthia Nixon, Rosie Perez, Ann Richards, Liz Smith, and "Hairspray"'s Dynamites.
"Nothing Like a Dame 2003" is produced by Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS and sponsored by Continental Airlines and The New York Times. Tickets, priced at $50 to $1,000, may be purchased online at broadwaycares.org or by calling (212) 840-0770.
'DARKNESS FALLS' ON VIDEO STORES APRIL 29
Just two weeks after "Darkness Falls" premiered in theaters, Columbia TriStar Pictures says the horror flick will be available on video April 29. The move is one of the fastest theater-to-video releases in recent memory.
Starring Emma Caulfield -- of TV's "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" -- "Darkness Falls" is the tale of an evil spirit terrorizing a town. It topped the box office when it opened last month.