July 2nd, 2009
03:51 PM ET

The Al Sharpton war room

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

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.
Editor's Note: AC360° Producer Chuck Hadad tagged along with Rev. Al Sharpton as he planned and attended Tuesday'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?

Filed under: 360° Radar • Chuck Hadad • Michael Jackson
soundoff (8 Responses)
  1. Sentient Dust

    I hope we get to inspect everyone in high places so I can publically inspect them in the light, Bring your judges, laywers, governors president, the bankers and then let the one in control, the beast show his face! We already beat you once.

    July 2, 2009 at 6:37 pm |
  2. char

    Sharpton and Jesse Jackson will never need sinus medication with their nose for publicity and money. And now that Debbie Rowe will be trying to get her slice of the pie, it'll be interesting (and comical) to see
    Jesse Jackson, Joe Jackson and Al Sharpton on display "ranting" on Debbie Rowe getting custody of her children, considering their obvious views. We can already guess with the millions at stake how they'll change their color, literally, in regards to MJ's kids. Let's see if extreme millions win over versus hypocrisy. God, poor Michael, I bet he's glad he's not here to witness the circus. What a sick world we live in.

    July 2, 2009 at 6:37 pm |
  3. Dust

    You my man are a fraud.

    July 2, 2009 at 6:32 pm |
  4. Dust

    How is the ring master? Still in control of things? How is it that an alleged man of GOD has been hanging around with joe for how many years? That you would stand as a witness to him ravaging his dead sons body in Public as every american watches. What is your purpose? You are well aware of the impact your image has on people, for His GODS sake! mann, you have a war room, and you let the news call it that. That speaks of a millitary angle god wouldnt even let King David build him a church because of the blood on his hands, what makes you better than King David?

    July 2, 2009 at 6:31 pm |
  5. Larry

    Surprised that rev. jackson is letting sharpton steal the spotlight.

    July 2, 2009 at 6:07 pm |
  6. Annie Kate

    Sharpton is always good at finding an angle he can work whenever something happens. While he is a minister he seems to be more and more a public relations "front" man – good at getting attention for his client but especially for himself.

    July 2, 2009 at 5:53 pm |
  7. Dee

    What...."Like the campaign manager of a candidate".....that's just political rhetoric from a man trying to revive his image on the coattail of a deceased legendary entertainer.

    July 2, 2009 at 5:01 pm |
  8. Rick

    Sharptons a joke, He sees some free camera time in the media.Secure the legacy of M.J. Unbelievable!

    July 2, 2009 at 4:52 pm |

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