J.J. Abrams’ Bad Robot has come on board the event series adaptation of Tavis Smiley’s upcoming book Before You Judge Me: The Triumph And Tragedy Of Michael Jackson’s Last Days for Warner Bros TV, where both Smiley and Abrams’ Bad Robot have TV deals. The announcement comes one day before the book is to published by Little, Brown and Company.
Before You Judge Me is described as a taut novelistic rendering of the final months in the life of Michael Jackson, one of the most iconic figures in modern popular culture. The book examines the soaring highs and deep lows faced by the late pop star — his constant hunt for privacy in a life that was more public than almost any other and the pressures he endured as someone whose fame made him socially fragile and almost unable to live.
The project already had been set up at WBTV under a multi-year development and production pod deal Smiley signed with the studio in October, along with an adaptation of Smiley’s My Journey With Maya, a memoir of the author’s nearly 30-year friendship with the renowned poet Maya Angelou.
This marks the second collaboration between Bad Robot and Smiley TV & Film at WBTV. The three companies announced in April 2015 that they are developing an event series based on Smiley’s book Death of A King: The Real Story of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Final Year. Published in 2014, the book recounts the final 365 days of King’s life and became a New York Times bestseller. Abrams also is the executive producer of WBTV’s Hulu series 11-22-63.
Smiley, Abrams, Ben Stephenson and David Brewington will serve as executive producers on Before You Judge Me, which will be produced by Bad Robot Productions and Tavis Smiley TV & Film in association with WBTV.
Before You Judge Me, Death Of A King and My Journey With Maya were written by Smiley and David Ritz.
Smiley hosts the late-night TV talk show Tavis Smiley on PBS as well as The Tavis Smiley Show from Public Radio International.