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Jackson executors blast MSNBC for airing Conrad Murray documentary

By Alan Duke, CNN
updated 5:30 AM EST, Thu November 10, 2011
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • MSNBC, NBC and Comcast are "morally culpable" for paying for the documentary, executors say
  • Estate executors want to know how much Murray was paid to tell his story
  • Katherine Jackson's lawyer vows "most aggressive action possible" to stop Murray from benefiting
  • Murray film is the "untold inside story" of Murray's relationship with Jackson, MSNBC says

Los Angeles (CNN) -- NBC and parent company Comcast are "morally culpable" for paying to air a documentary with inside access to Dr. Conrad Murray, the executors of Michael Jackson's estate said in a letter to the broadcast company Wednesday.

"No sooner was Conrad Murray ordered led away in handcuffs after his conviction on manslaughter charges in the death of Michael Jackson than we discovered your MSNBC network inexplicably will showcase him in prime time Friday night as if he is worthy of celebrity," executors John Branca and John McClain wrote.

"Michael Jackson and The Doctor" is the "untold inside story" in which Murray "breaks his silence to reveal personal details of his relationship with Michael Jackson, Murray's role within the star's family life, the intense pressures that Jackson felt leading up to his tour and the events of the fateful day that led to Jackson's death," MSNBC said in a news release.

A spokesman for the company said "no comment" when asked by CNN to respond to the letter from the estate Wednesday.

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The lawyer for Jackson's mother, Katherine Jackson, told CNN Wednesday that he realized it would be "virtually impossible to stop" Friday night's broadcast.

But "I will take the most aggressive action possible to make sure a convicted felon never profits from the death of Michael Jackson," Perry Sanders said.

The estate executors said by buying the documentary, "MSNBC gives Conrad Murray a platform to shift the blame post-conviction to Michael Jackson, even though a jury considered the evidence and rejected this very argument."

The executors questioned the documentary producers' statement that they only paid Murray $1 for his story, which the executors said left "open the question of whether payments were made to his representatives."

"As the executors for the estate of the victim of Dr. Murray's crime, we would like to know how much money in total was paid for this privileged 'access?' Was it really only $1, or was it more?" the letter asked.

"It doesn't matter to us if it was a production company, Comcast, NBC Universal or MSNBC that paid for 'access' to Dr. Murray because all are morally culpable," the executors wrote. "It is equally irrelevant whether any or all interviews took place before the jury convicted him. These are moral loopholes aimed at excusing a reprehensible program stemming from Michael Jackson's tragic death that will not only be aired, but which is heavily promoted on The Today Show in order to boost ratings a a struggling cable network."

The network said producers worked on the film for two years with exclusive access to Dr. Murray and his lawyers.

"In a series of very personal interviews, Murray discusses in detail Jackson's fragile health and mental state, yet unstoppable dedication to creating a successful world tour," the network said. "The documentary gained access into the closed-door meetings with Dr. Murray's defense team both before and during the trial, giving a look into their strategy and how they pieced the case together."

CNN's Jack Hannah contributed to this report.

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