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E! prepares for Jackson trial re-enactments

Half-hour show will feature highlights from the trial
/ Source: The Associated Press

The start of the Michael Jackson trial Monday also means the start of the Michael Jackson trial, the TV version.

With cameras banned from the courtroom where Jackson is being tried on molestation charges, E! Entertainment Television will re-enact highlights of the previous day beginning Tuesday.

Studio A at the Wilshire Boulevard headquarters of E! has been turned into a courtroom in which actors, including Edward Moss as Jackson, will play out about 15 daily minutes of the trial.

The filmed re-enactments, produced with a British television company for airing abroad, will be part of a half-hour E! show that will include trial analysis by legal experts — Rikki Klieman, a Court TV anchor and wife of Los Angeles Police Chief William Bratton; Shawn Chapman Holley, partner in the law firm of O.J. Simpson lawyer Johnnie Cochran and criminal defense attorney Howard Weitzman.

“We’re going into this with a very serious attitude,” Ted Harbert, president and chief executive officer of E! Networks, said of “E! News Presentation: The Michael Jackson Trial.”

The channel has experience in the genre: It re-created parts of the non-televised civil trial against Simpson that followed his acquittal in the murders of his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and Ron Goldman.

Asked if legal turf was appropriate for a channel focused on entertainment news, Harbert responded: “Is there some rule that only Court TV is allowed to do this because their name is Court TV?”

The sexual nature of the trial and potential graphic testimony could prove difficult for some viewers, he acknowledged.

“It’s a matter of individual taste. If people are put off by the subject matter, this program might not be for them,” he said.

However, there is interest in the pop star and in “this chapter of his life,” Harbert said.

Jackson, 46, has pleaded not guilty to charges of molesting a boy; conspiracy and administering an intoxicating agent, alcohol, to his alleged victim.

The channel will adhere to network broadcast standards in gauging language inappropriate for television, Harbert said.

Trial transcripts are to be e-mailed to E! by a court reporter at the end of each trial day, with producers deciding on the testimony to be shaped into a script and filmed that evening.

The program will air the next day on E! (7:30 p.m. EST, repeating at 9 p.m.). An hour-long weekend wrap-up program (10 a.m. ET) is planned.

The series also will air on E! International Network, seen in more than 50 countries.

The Jackson re-enactments will be seen as well on satellite company British Sky Broadcasting, BSkyB, which will wrap them into its own next-day program for viewers there.