Jackson's taped AMA performance off

Worried about spoiling his chances of appearing at the Grammy Awards, Michael
Jackson's representatives have spiked the 'Gloved One's' planned performance on
the American Music Awards Wednesday night, taped or live.

ABC aired a promo Tuesday night saying that there would be a 'special
performance' by Jackson on Wednesday night's AMA telecast.

That came as a surprise to Broadcasting & Cable, whose reporter
had been told by lawyers for AMA producer Dick Clark that Jackson would appear
to pick up an award, but he could not perform on the show. It seems that as an
alternative, AMA planned to air a tape of an exclusive Jackson performance.

Enter Jackson's representatives: AMA publicist Paul Shefrin said Wednesday,
'Up until yesterday, we were going to feature a segment of a previously unseen
Jackson performance. Yesterday we were asked by his representatives to limit
that to a short portion. This morning, we have been asked not to use any of that

Shefrin stressed that Jackson will still be attending to receive his 'Artist
of the Century' award, 'and we're glad to have him.'

The on-again, off-again performance stems from a Grammy-telecast exclusivity
clause that would prevent Jackson from appearing on the Feb. 27 Grammy Awards
show -- and in front of its projected 2 billion viewers worldwide -- if he were
to perform on another televised awards show.

Clark filed a suit against National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences
president Michael Green Dec. 19 over that exclusivity clause, calling it a
blacklist and an unfair business practice and saying that the absence of Jackson
would lower the ratings and devalue the show in the international and cable

But the case isn't expected to go to trial for one year, and AMA ultimately
decided not to seek an immediate injunction to allow Jackson to perform.

The academy responded to the suit by characterizing the exclusivity provision
as a legitimate business practice.

Saying, 'It clearly is the nature of the entertainment business to offer your
audience something exclusive,' the Recording Academy dismissed Clark's suit as a
'last-minute publicity stunt created in hopes of driving some attention to the
plaintiff's show.'

Meanwhile, speaking of stunts: As if to rub salt in the wound (or at the
least to siphon off Jackson fans and other music lovers), CBS -- which has the
rights to the Grammys, and which has come out in support of Greene -- is airing
a repeat of its Michael Jackson: 30th Anniversary Special concert
opposite the AMA show Wednesday night, with more Jackson performances, albeit
taped ones, than you can shake a gloved fist at.

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.