Published November 20, 2003
NEW YORK – CBS pulled a Michael Jackson (search) music special planned for next week, saying it would be "inappropriate" to air given the new charges that the star molested a child.
Authorities in Santa Barbara, Calif. issued an arrest warrant for the pop star on molestation charges. Jackson has denied the charges.
The special, "Michael Jackson Number Ones," (search) was to air next Wednesday at 10 p.m. EST, to coincide with the release of a greatest hits package. Besides performance footage, the special was to include interviews with Dick Clark (search), Beyonce Knowles (search), Mary J. Blige and others about Jackson's impact on pop culture.
"Given the gravity of the charges against Mr. Jackson, we believe it would be inappropriate at this time to broadcast an entertainment special," CBS said in a statement issued Wednesday.
"However, we are very mindful that Mr. Jackson is innocent until proven guilty," CBS said. "We will consider broadcasting the special after the due process of the legal system runs its course."
It is the second big November ratings "sweeps" special that CBS has postponed this month. After pressure from conservatives, CBS yanked a planned television movie, "The Reagans," and gave it to the Showtime cable channel. The Reagan movie was to have aired this week.
Despite the two cancellations, CBS is dominating the November ratings period.
Even though his music career has foundered, Jackson has been a potent TV draw. ABC drew more than 27 million viewers in February for an interview special with the pop star, setting off a feeding frenzy of other Jackson programming by broadcast networks.
In November 2001, CBS drew an audience of 25.7 million people for a Jackson 30th anniversary concert.
CBS has not announced what will air in place of the special next week.