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Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Michael Jackson's "Thriller" to become musical show


NEW YORK (Reuters) - Michael Jackson will help develop his ground-breaking "Thriller" video into a musical theater production, producers said on Monday.

Jackson's 1982 "Thriller" album is the world's biggest selling album and the theater production will recreate the tale of the 14-minute horror film spoof based on the title song. In the video, a young couple are on a date when the boy -- played by Jackson in the video -- becomes a werewolf.

"This musical will be the exclusive Michael Jackson authorized version of 'Thriller' and Jackson will participate in every aspect of the creative process," said the Nederland Organization, which has acquired the rights to the musical.

"Thriller The Musical" will include songs from "Thriller" and Jackson's 1979 album "Off The Wall."

The "Thriller" video, featuring dancing zombies and horror film star Vincent Price, was first aired in 1983 and became a staple of MTV. It was directed by filmmaker John Landis, who said it cost $500,000 -- about 10 times the cost of the standard music video of the time.

Jackson's spokesman, Dr. Tohme Tohme, said in the Nederland Organization statement: "The Nederlanders and Michael Jackson represent live theater and musical excellence, so let the music begin."

Jackson, 50, is one of the best-selling recording artists of all time and began his musical career with his siblings in the Motown group the Jackson 5 before starting a solo career.

But the singer has been dogged since the 1990s by scandal and revelations about his eccentric lifestyle. He was tried and acquitted of child sex abuse charges in 2005.

Jackson also has been plagued with financial troubles in the past few years and narrowly averted a foreclosure sale of his Neverland Ranch in May. In November, he handed over the title of Neverland to a company made up of himself and the firm that holds the $24 million loan on the property.

He has no permanent home currently.

(Reporting by Michelle Nichols; Editing by Bill Trott)