June 30th, 2009
11:58 PM ET

The Michael Jackson war room

Producer Chuck Hadad sits with Rev. Al Sharpton in the office of Sharpton's Harlem headquarters.

Editor's Note: AC360° Producer Chuck Hadad tagged along with Rev. Al Sharpton as he planned and attended today's memorial honoring Michael Jackson at the historic Apollo Theater in Harlem. Here are some snapshots from the day.

Chuck Hadad
AC360° Producer

Right now, I'm riding shotgun with the ringmaster of the Michael Jackson media circus... Actually, to be more exact, I'm riding in the backseat.

We're on our way to the Apollo Theater in Reverend Al Sharpton's SUV and "the Rev," as his staff and others call him, has allowed 360° virtually unfettered access to every behind the scenes meeting, every phone call, every Facebook message, every text message and even every tweet.

With a story as fast-moving as the mystery and drama over Michael Jackson's death, managing this circus is a full-time job.

We started with Sharpton at dawn after he'd landed on a red-eye flight back from LA. He was on his way to do a segment with "Good Morning America," the first of 7 interviews before noon.

Sharpton has fielded calls from Jackson family attorney L. Londell McMillan on how to handle media questions about the custody of Jackson's kids and texted Spike Lee about today's tribute at the Apollo Theater.

Critics of Sharpton's involvement in Michael Jackson's case have called him an opportunist at best and at worse, well, this is a family website.

When I asked Sharpton about the criticism and why his time wouldn't be better spent lending his fame to a person or cause that isn't already dominating the headlines, he sounded a familiar refrain: it is important to secure the legacy of Jackson as not only a musical icon but civil rights icon.

But it goes beyond that. Sharpton says he's like the campaign manager of a candidate in the throes of a heated election, with both delicate and inflammatory issues to be managed, including controversies over allegations that Jackson abused prescription drugs, to his meaning of his will, to the custody of his children. In all these stories, the message needs to be managed.

Sharpton says he's working not only to get Michael Jackson his due, but to help the Jackson family navigate the storm created by Michael's death.

What's your take on it all?

Al Sharpton on his way to the Apollo Theater.

Al Sharpton and company host his daily radio show inside the Apollo Theater.

Al Sharpton and Spike Lee do some glad-handing outside the Apollo Theater.

soundoff (82 Responses)
  1. Denise

    I think if Michael was looking down right now it would sadden him even more to see his father opening up about his future plans and Rev. Al Sharpton's comments about being black (RACISM)–they need to look at Michael Jackson who was not a racist, I didnt get to watch the BET Awards but was told how there was racism added into the awards, how sad that is. Rev. Al Sharpton just needed his 5 minutes of fame, I found it really funny that he fly's clear to New York to be at the Michael Jackson tribute at the Apollo, seems like there could have been a better person out there that could have represented Michael Jackson. God will bless him well, this is my second ICON in my life time lost and one was white one was born black and to me they were both human and I dont judge one on their color I judge them on their music their talent as everyone should even Rev Al Sharpton.Janet Jackson was the closet of anyone of the family members and I pray she gets some of the control over his estate....Denise from Florida.....

    June 30, 2009 at 11:02 pm |
  2. Debra

    It was really sad to hear Michael passed away. He really did a lot of good for the world. He had heart, loved people and always gave. Why not look at that instead of all the negativity around. Maybe he was or may he was not the father of the three children, but he was probably a better father for them then most men out there. He protected them, gave them love, respected their privacy. He did not want them to be a "show" like he was. D.Rowe gave up her interest in the children completely. What mother could do that. Katherine Jackson loves the children, they should be with her (especially now that Joe does not live with her). LET MICHAEL REST IN PEACE.

    June 30, 2009 at 11:00 pm |
  3. Eve Morgan

    I don't understand y people keep tryin 2 make michael look bad. I shouldn't matter if he there father or not. He took care of them from day 1. Those people just want the kids because of the money and his mother ain't about 2 have that. Ya'll need 2 leave michael along. He did nothing 2 nobody and ya'll treating him like a bad person.and it shouldn't matter if he change his skin color. He STILL BLACK no matter what. So 2 all ya'll who keep puttin him down will get nowhere. Never make a person look like nothing cause u ain't nothing and didn't have what he had...

    June 30, 2009 at 10:51 pm |
  4. Cheryl

    If a camera appears, out come the Rev. Al and the Rev. Jesse. Folks, this is NOT a "what would Jesus do?" moment, but pure self gratification on both their parts. And yes, wonderful point, Jenny- Michael Jackson was a Jehovah's Witness! Not even their professed religion! Where in their training did it say "be whatever is in the news! Just get on the TV!!!!" This makes me ill. Two weeks ago, poor Michael Jackson was nothing short of a cautionary tale. Now he is God. Maybe that is why the Revs showed up.

    June 30, 2009 at 10:36 pm |
  5. Jeff J

    Chuck- Why you guys would give this fake time and cred is beyond me.....How your unit could go from HEROS and VETERANS type work to loud mouths is beyond me and sad.

    If "Rev" was for real he wouldnt have to parade arund a 20 yr old picture of him and MJ. Or, kiss Joe's a$$ in fron tof the cameras.

    So sad.....cover news and infomation-not play into this joke.

    June 30, 2009 at 10:30 pm |
  6. AMB1433

    By the way I do remember remember Tawanna Brawley, what a fiasco. I was ashamed.

    June 30, 2009 at 10:29 pm |
  7. AMB1433

    I'm black and I've always thought Al Sharpton, Jessie Jackson and the lot are a bunch of race-baiters and slime bags. Always looking for a race war to keep their checks coming and their 15 minutes of fame. However, I had started to think since MJ's death this is the most respectable I've seen Al Sharpton ever. Then he stood next to the "Prince of Darkness" AKA Joe Jackson.

    June 30, 2009 at 10:25 pm |
  8. AMB1433

    Joe Jackson should be locked in a bell tower, he damaged all of his kids and ultimately set-up the demons that drove MJ to his grave. How tacky, to use tributes and heart-felt grief for (your son) as your moment to peddle your pathetic music label, is he suffering from alzheimers or is he jst an ahole?

    June 30, 2009 at 10:18 pm |
  9. Vee

    Anderson, This RN mentioned that she never heard about Diprivan (propofol), if she is a Nurse Practitioner she should know about this medication. Why did she decide to berak "her silence' today.
    This medication is used mainly in patients in the ICU who are mechanically intubated to elicit a sedtaive effect.

    June 30, 2009 at 10:07 pm |
  10. linda

    personally , i think al sharpton and jesse jackson should butt out of this matter all together. come on folks, mom at target and dad promoting blu ray!!!! . sounds like mourning to me. michael j we all miss and love you, RIP MJ. YOU WILL ALWAYS BE REMEMBERED.

    June 30, 2009 at 9:16 pm |
  11. Glenn Harvey

    Media circus indeed. I am sorry about MJ. However, can the media, including CNN cover Iran? Iraq? N. Korea? Honduras? Healthcare? Global warning? It seems as if all these vital stories have just dropped off the edge of the world since a superstar died.

    Again, I am truely sorry about MJ, but please cover all the news that is important.


    June 30, 2009 at 9:07 pm |
  12. Larry

    @Mike, Syracuse, NY

    Mike, too bad you'll never get a job with CNN or HLN, and we're the worse for it. You always make insightful comments.

    June 30, 2009 at 9:05 pm |
  13. Joyce

    Two words: Tawana Brawley
    If you know anything about that case, you know all you need to about Al Sharpton.

    June 30, 2009 at 8:29 pm |
  14. michelle

    this is such a historical moment in our life time that the news on it will be never ending for some time to come. Keep up the good work Andreson !

    June 30, 2009 at 7:59 pm |
  15. Mike, Syracuse, NY

    Why is CNN pandering to this total idiot? Whenever there's bad news about a black person, from the ultimately false Duke rape accusations, to the Jena 6 (who went on to commit other crimes) to MJ, he does all he can to grab media center stage and exploit things. Sharpton has spent his life making bad situations worse, and profiting in the process. I'm no Obama fan, but at least he doesn't blame racism, slavery, et al for every bad thing that happens to a black person. Usually the only racism around Sharpton is his own.

    June 30, 2009 at 7:56 pm |
  16. jenny

    I am confused as to why REV Sharpton and/or REV Jackson would be treated as if they had any official capacity in this Michael Jackson circus. Wasn't Michael a Jehovah's Witness?

    June 30, 2009 at 7:34 pm |
  17. Penny Sanders Bargersville, Indiana

    This is the most The Jacksons have had air time since The Jackson 5. Its to bad it took this to bring them out

    June 30, 2009 at 7:21 pm |
  18. Debra

    I've been intrigued by the whole Michael Jackson media coverage ever since his tragic and untimely death. I always considered him a gifted talent, and a beautifully sensitive person who was victim to many nasty parasites who took advantage of his kind nature.
    It is (1) surprising to me that people expect such a genius to be orderly and conservative in his personal life and yet exceptionally creative in his professional one, and (2) as a result of watching the BET and the Apollo tributes, I am negatively impressed with the racial statements made by the black presenters. It is my opinion that Jackson is not being represented by them. They are stepping backwards in the efforts to blur racial borders. Michael did the opposite.

    June 30, 2009 at 7:16 pm |
  19. Penny Sanders

    What a circus. where were all these people who want the best interest of Michaels to be guarded ,when he was alive ! OMG he isnt even buried yet. I hope it setltles down especially for the children. Maybe Debbie Rowe would be the best choice . They all seem so money hungry. Its sad. Penny S . Indiana

    June 30, 2009 at 7:05 pm |
  20. Mari

    CNN can we move on now????????????????????????????????

    June 30, 2009 at 7:04 pm |
  21. belizethinker

    ever thought MJ would pull a Tupac on us? staging his death for all the succes that a dead MJ would bring? giving irony to the term re-birth?

    June 30, 2009 at 6:59 pm |
  22. Vicky

    The "Rev" is just like Joe Jackson. He is an oppertunist. He takes advantage of any lime light to promote "his" agenda. Joe and the Rev are riding on Michael Jackson's coat tails. Birds of a feather flock together.

    June 30, 2009 at 6:59 pm |
  23. Fllowers

    I really can't see the Jackson family allowing anyone to take advantage of them. Has anyone ever thought that Al Sharpton is doing exactly what the Jackson family has asked him to do and what they need him to do. He is no stranger to that family. Give them some credit, please.

    June 30, 2009 at 6:58 pm |
  24. Anthony Ching

    The family should be concentrating on what killed their son.
    And who is responsible for his death. There are too many suspicious people employed by Michael Jackson–the main man is Miko Brando.
    Miko Brando knows more than he is acknowledging on tv.

    June 30, 2009 at 6:54 pm |
  25. Dee

    Al Sharpton and Joe Jackson both need to take a seat. Al is like a fly to dong, and I have no respect for a father speaking of some record label that his 80-year old self is trying to create while his son has just lost his life and his grandchildren have lost their father. I don't need Al Sharpton to keep Michael's musical legacy alive. It's alive in me every time I hear one of his songs. Just shut up already, and turn the music up. It speaks volumes for itself.

    June 30, 2009 at 6:45 pm |
  26. Lilypaddy

    It seems that the Rev likes the lime light....kind of like Judge Ito.

    June 30, 2009 at 6:33 pm |
  27. Elizabeth

    It is my opinion that the removal of anything from the Jackson compound before a Will was located, is suspicious at best. The premises, again in my opinion, should have been "sealed" and guarded until direction for legal distribution was determined. A video of all belongings should have been made by "independant" bonded witnesses, an itemized list of each item removed and signatures for each item received obtained. This is a high profile case and should be handled as such. So far, not so in my opinion and according to the news reports!

    June 30, 2009 at 6:29 pm |
  28. Susan Harper

    In times of grief, a family, especially a Super Star like Michael Jackson's, needs to help fielding the calls and requests while they put theie energy towards taking care of Michael's needs. I haven't heard anyone mention that across the world everyone applauds Michael Jackson's life and not one drop of violence.

    June 30, 2009 at 6:00 pm |
  29. Zenawit Birhanu

    Even in death Michael is a site of controversy and media frenzy! I'm glad he's gone and won't ever witness these shameful acts by all. God rest his soul for no one can ever hurt Michael again!

    June 30, 2009 at 5:57 pm |
  30. dina212

    How is he an opportunist? I don't get that. I respect Rev. Al Sharpton for allowing us to focus on the fact that Michael Jackson was not weird, he was a genius. And if someone can debate that, then they can't.

    June 30, 2009 at 5:56 pm |
  31. Virginia

    Who remembersTawanna Brawley?

    June 30, 2009 at 5:55 pm |
  32. Kelly Martinez

    I don't understand why people let Al Sharpton insert himself into their private business. What does he have to do with anything related to Michael Jackson?! Please, please make him go away. Please Anderson, stop talking to him.

    Also, I found Jamie Foxx's performance on BET awards insulting to Michael Jackson and his family. His comments were also racists. Michael belonged to NO ONE, but he touched EVERYONE!

    June 30, 2009 at 5:44 pm |
  33. Jillian

    Isn't this what Michael had tried to avoid his entire life – people micro-managing him and sticking their noses in his business? It's true that I didn't know him, but I can understand what it's like to have people in your life that are negative influences and that are only out to profit or benefit from you in some way.

    I think what should truly happen, is the will should be probated, and have the lawyers dictate what was written in his will... no matter what it says, it's his last will and testament, and is his legal and binding wishes for his estate.

    For once, think of Michael before yourself.

    June 30, 2009 at 5:37 pm |
  34. Frank - CA

    Well said Nan!

    June 30, 2009 at 5:36 pm |
  35. Vilad

    Isn't there a way to just sue Sharpton for blatant HYPOCRISY, and put him out everyone's misery?

    June 30, 2009 at 5:35 pm |
  36. Broken

    Let the man RIP.

    I'm empty. Cannot read anymore of this tragedy.

    June 30, 2009 at 5:35 pm |
  37. Stefanie GRana

    I have heard people close to MJ say he was surrounded by leaches his entie life. Seems like his death wont be much different.
    Is this really what we want Michael Jackson to be remembered by?
    I prefer to remember the extraordinary artist not the legal s**t storm left behind.
    Rest in PEACE Michael.

    June 30, 2009 at 5:15 pm |
  38. NY_yank

    Just the other day Sharpton was campaigning to get David Letterman fired – or so it seemed. Otherwise, if it is black he drops his media seeking attention for the colour of ... well you know. Joe Jackson has obviously been deranged in raising his children and obviously Katherine took off for her own benefit, so what's your point? I think it is pretty clear. I hope that Michael's children gets far away from Joe Jackson as possible. He only wants the money, and I hope the governess stays in the picture as the closest mother they might have ever known. It would be hard for me to distance myself from them in her position.

    June 30, 2009 at 5:11 pm |
  39. M S

    Anything that Shapton is involved with loses credibility. It becomes a joke. Did everyone see Jessie Jackson hanging on as well? Losers both of them

    June 30, 2009 at 5:07 pm |
  40. mary an stanley

    Poor Michael, can't even Rest In Peace.....

    June 30, 2009 at 5:04 pm |
  41. M.W. Johnson

    Al Sharpton really creeps me out! So does Joe Jackson...this whole thing with Michael Jackson's life and his family reeks of abuse, control, secrets, lies...the whole thing just stinks.

    June 30, 2009 at 5:04 pm |
  42. Rea

    Nan ~ June 30th, 2009 4:43 pm ET, put it just the way it is, I feel the same way.

    Joe, please, please leave Michael alone!!

    June 30, 2009 at 5:00 pm |
  43. Marjorie

    I think that Rev Sharpton has thus far shown himself to be doing what he says; getting the message out about Michael and reminding us of who he was in all he did. He was the first black artist on MTV. He started foundations; he raised money with We are the World. It is important that we remember the good, the music and the contributions that he made to improve the world. Thus far Rev Sharpton has been the only one doing it.

    June 30, 2009 at 5:00 pm |
  44. Gail Ellis Duncan

    Looks again that money makes the world go around. How sad. Such is this life...or....can we change it? Let us think about his children and his message in his music and pray he rest in peace.

    June 30, 2009 at 5:00 pm |
  45. Larry

    Thank you Jamie Foxx for letting white people share in the joy of the music from 'your' black man michael jackson.

    June 30, 2009 at 4:58 pm |
  46. Denise

    Here we go again, Al Sharpton sticking his nose into other peoples lives just so he can keep his name in the spotlight.

    June 30, 2009 at 4:57 pm |
  47. Mike

    Our media doesn't feel that there are any more important things to report on; besides Michael Jackson? What a joke! Let him rest and let IT rest

    June 30, 2009 at 4:55 pm |
  48. Nan

    Sharpton as usual is trying to stick himself in the front of the camera.
    Shouldn't Michael's manager and the attorneys be the ones to handle all of the issues? He and Joe Jackson should ride on the same sinking ship, and leave Michael to the people he trusted, his manager, and his attorney, not someone that Joe has chosen and certainly not the good Reverend Sharpton who has not done anything for Michael. I do not understand why they seem to think that they know all about MJ, after all they were not there with him. Michael had very little to do with his father. It seems to me like Joe is waiting on the autopsy report to see if there is someone he can sue for money for his record business and the Reverend is just wanting to spouting off for the cameras. No one will forget what Michael has done for music, civil rights, or world cultures. They would certainly enjoy more of Michael at this time without the 2 of them sticking the noses in front of the cameras.

    I don't know why they want to bring up the racial thing. After all, when you hear MJ on the radio, you don't think about his color, you just think abouth the music and the words of his songs. I have never seen a less racially motivated performer. MJ just did his thing because he had a gift from God and put it to the use that he was supposed to. I don't remember ever seeing him say "look at me, I'm black" and that makes me a better musician, dancer, etc. He just did his entertaining for everyone.

    June 30, 2009 at 4:43 pm |
  49. Annie Kate

    Reverend Sharpton shows up to "manage" anything and everything that happens in the African-American segment of the US population. Maybe that is what his mission in life is but it looks a little opportunistic to me. As long as the family wants him there to do this then I see nothing wrong with it. If the family does not want him there to manage all this then he needs to step back graciously and let them run the show.

    June 30, 2009 at 4:15 pm |
  50. Irene

    Why do rich and famous people not have their legal affairs in order when they have so much money for wills, trusts, custody issues, etc. Why do people leave such a mess? The lawyers will end up with a lot of the money anyway. It seems like a common situation.

    June 30, 2009 at 3:43 pm |
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