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Associated Press Updated: 06/30/09 08:00 AMCOMMENTARYJackson coverage leaves critic feeling detachedAlan Pergament Story tools: LargerSmallerSavePrintEmailShare this story: Normally, when a legend or A-list celebrity dies I practically feel obligated to watch the tributes that inevitably will follow on national broadcast and cable TV shows.

I didn't feel that way after the death of pop icon Michael Jackson Thursday.

And over the weekend, I began to examine why Jackson's surprising death at the age of 50 didn't have me glued to all the specials that followed about the man-child and his music.

Obviously, others didn't feel the same way.

The three network national newscasts on Thursday night had high local ratings and the cable network ratings were huge.

That shouldn't be a surprise since most things Jackson have had extraordinarily high ratings over the decades.

Television has decided to ride his last big story for as long as it will play on.

The Jackson story—which was only a short story inside the A section of Monday's Buffalo News—again was prime material for all three national Monday morning shows.

To examine my detached feelings, I researched my columns about the media coverage of Jackson over the years.

One reason I didn't feel obligated to watch the specials was because Jackson's every move was documented so well that anyone who lived through the height of his popularity didn't need to be reminded of how great he was as a performer.

Music legends Quincy Jones or Tommy Mottola certainly weren't needed to remind viewers why Jackson was such an incredible and influential musical talent.

The other reason I didn't feel obligated to watch was revealed in the first Jackson reference in the first item that popped up from The Buffalo News library from my articles about him.

It was a joke that Chris Rock made in July 2005 about how he cast the young actor who played him, Tyler James Williams, in the CW comedy, "Everybody Hates Chris." "I was at Michael Jackson's house, in his driveway, and this kid runs out [yelling] 'wait, save me,' " cracked Rock, before adding, "No, Tyler was the funniest kid we could find." Jackson was acquitted in a 2005 child molestation case.

But it still was hard to watch the inevitable celebration of Jackson's life when you knew the unsavory elements of his life would become background material.

When I watched NBC's "Today" show on Friday, the outpouring of love from fans around the world made one wonder if all his freakish and questionable behavior was forgotten or pushed into the background so easily.

It shouldn't have been.

During Jackson's 2005 trial, Court TV's Catherine Crier predicted he would be convicted of a child molestation charge and many analysts thought that he would be found guilty of something.

One juror told CNN's Larry King that he felt Jackson "probably" had molested boys but added that "doesn't make him guilty in this case." Jackson beat it but the suspicions lingered and damaged his career.

Over the years, TV rode Jackson's weirdness and freakish behavior to strong ratings.

Martin Bashir's interview in February 2003 in which the 44- year-old Jackson admitted he allowed kids to sleep in his room (though he said he wasn't in bed with them) was a huge ratings success.

Bashir interviewed Jackson eight years after the pop icon refused to accede to ABC's Diane Sawyer's admonition to stop allowing children to sleep over because that's not proper behavior for a man his age.

Fairly or unfairly, memories of the Bashir and Sawyer interviews and the jokes made it difficult to join in on all the celebrations by those with much shorter memories.

I wonder if I'm alone or in the minority.

Remembering FarrahThe timing of Jackson's death overwhelmed the attention given to the less surprising death of Farrah Fawcett to such a degree that several people have said it was unfortunate and unfair.

The point is understandable.

But Fawcett had gotten an abnormal amount of attention over the years for her work in TV.

After all, she was only on "Charlie's Angels" for one season.

Her popularity was as much for being showcased in an iconic poster as it was for the 1976 show.

It is extremely unlikely that any beautiful actress today— when so many strong women headline shows—could have the same lasting impact that Farrah had.

She spent much of her career trying to live down her sexy image and gave acclaimed performances as an abused woman in the 1984 TV movie, "The Burning Bed," and as a murderer in the 1989 miniseries, "Small Sacrifices." One of her more underappreciated efforts was the short-lived 1990 comedy, "Good Sports." She co-starred with longtime love Ryan O'Neal in a series about sports anchors written by University at Buffalo graduate Alan Zweibel.

By 2005, Farrah was reduced to being part of a TV Land reality series, "Chasing Farrah," in which she showed viewers what it was like being Farrah.

During an interview to promote that show, a critic asked Fawcett if a report that she and O'Neal had married was true.

Farrah had a peculiar response.

"Uh," said Farrah after a pause, "I don't think so." The recent highly rated NBC special, "Farrah's Story," in which O'Neal helped viewers see her courage in her final days battling cancer, really gave Fawcett so much attention that it mitigated anything that Jackson's death may have taken from her.

News and notes• You may have noticed that Time Warner has put its Prime Time on Demand feature on Channel 705 as well as Channel 1005.

Putting it on Channel 705 should make more viewers aware of the channel, which carries episodes of popular network shows without commercials.

NBC, CBS, FX and USA are among the networks that put some of their shows On Demand.

The popular shows include "Rescue Me" on FX and "Burn Notice" and the hit newcomer "Royal Pains" on USA.

• Buffalo Bills receiver Terrell Owens and supermodel Joanna Krupa—who were eliminated in last week's premiere of ABC's "Superstars"— are back competing tonight in the second episode because of an injury to a member of one of the seven teams that survived.

The show had only had a 3.7 rating locally on Channel 7 and bombed nationally.

Somehow, I doubt it was a huge DVR hit.

But Krupa's verbal assaults of T.

O.

last week may have been a YouTube favorite.

[email protected]

http://www.buffalonews.com/entertainment/story/719243.html
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