‘The Cher Show’ to Avoid Michael Jackson

A new Michael Jackson musical, with songs by Stevie Wonder, Anita Baker and others, is moving forward, even as director James Degus has stood by his previous statement that it is a work of fiction rather than an examination of the singer’s life.

The show is in the first stages of a book-and-worldwide tour, with 20 locations, starting in France. But the Rev. Al Sharpton warned the producers that a full production would upset fans. “We are friends with Michael Jackson’s family and we will not be involved in a Broadway show about him,” he wrote to producers.

On Tuesday, James Degus, who directed an opening-night news conference in Madrid, where the musical is being staged, stood by his opening statement that he was making “a work of fiction” that delves into the musician’s personal life but presents no allegations of wrongdoing. “It’s a family story about a loving family who are dealing with the death of their patriarch and what their home life is like,” Mr. Degus said.

The producers agreed to a Newsday request for an on-the-record comment, but it did not come before this story was published.

“The producers and writer are fully aware that there are hundreds of movies and dramas about black entertainers, and this is not going to be one of them,” Mr. Degus said in a phone interview on Wednesday. “But it’s a family story about a loving family who are dealing with the death of their patriarch and what their home life is like.”

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