Michael Jackson's TV Death: Little Commercialism, But Much More To Come

TV news channels rushed into high gear over the news of Michael Jackson's death on Thursday -- dramatically shifting schedules, and eliminating much advertising.  

Broadcast networks had been planning special prime-time tributes to Farrah Fawcett, whose death had been announced earlier in the day, before the news of Jackson's demise hit late in the afternoon Los Angeles time. Then ABC, CBS and NBC shifted gears, announcing Jackson specials for Thursday night.

As a TV performer/celebrity, Jackson built his own mythology -- first rising, then taking a multitude of turns through the years. Some say the entire music video industry came of age when "Thriller" hit in the early '80s.

In seemingly true Jackson style, his out-of-nowhere dramatic death came just weeks before a major comeback tour, to be made with the hopes of  improving his troubled financial situation and his entertainment marketing value.

A search for "Michael Jackson" on Google late Thursday yielded 63.3 million results.

Fox News Channel, CNN and MSNBC, as well as local news outlets, offered immediate wall-to-wall coverage. Most ran music videos or offered commentary from popular culture experts or other celebrities talking about the loss.
For years Jackson was fodder for tabloid news outlets because of his sometimes-strange behavior -- selling lots of TV, radio and print advertising in the process.  Recently, the Jackson family wanted to do a reality show, which supposedly Michael had nixed, according to the tabloid Web site TMZ.

The irony in all this is that Jackson's death took news channels out of their normal advertising rotation -- not running commercials for long periods of time.

But the lack of commercialism won't last long -- not for one of the greatest entertainers ever. Multiple TV tribute shows, and renewed sales of his music and videos, will again do big business for the Jackson name.

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