In 1996, Michael Jackson paraded the globe with the HIStory World Tour, playing 82 shows for over 4.5 million fans. But that same year, the King of Pop apparently had his sights set on an entirely different gig: playing Morpheus in a television adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s “The Sandman.”
“By 1996, I was being taken to Warners, where the then-president of Warner Bros sat me down and told me that Michael Jackson had phoned him the day before and asked him if he could star as Morpheus in ‘The Sandman,’” Gaiman said on Josh Horowitz’s “Happy Sad Confused” podcast. “So, there was a lot of interest in this, and they knew that it was one of the Crown Jewels, and what did I think? And I was like, ‘Ooh.’”
Over the last few decades Gaiman received several offers to adapt his sprawling comic book series for the screen, but “The Sandman” finally got the TV treatment this year on Netflix, topping the streamer’s global charts for three consecutive weeks.
The Netflix series stars Tom Sturridge as Morpheus alongside Gwendoline Christie, Jenna Coleman, Boyd Holbrook, Mason Alexander Park and Kirby Howell-Baptiste.
Before he died in 2009, Jackson’s filmography included 1978’s “The Wiz,” in which he played the Scarecrow, and “Men in Black II.” In 2019, HBO’s “Leaving Neverland” documentary detailed the stories of two men, Wade Robson and James Safechuck, who allege that Jackson sexually abused them as children. In 2003, Jackson was arrested on charges of child molestation. Two years later, he went to trial and was acquitted of all criminal charges.
Earlier this week, Gaiman revealed that he sabotaged Jon Peters’ movie adaptation of “The Sandman” by leaking the “really stupid” script to the press.
“I sent the script to Ain’t It Cool News, which back then was read by people. And I thought, I wonder what Ain’t It Cool News will think of the script that they’re going to receive anonymously,” Gaiman said in an interview with Rolling Stone. “And they wrote a fabulous article about how it was the worst script they’d ever been sent. And suddenly the prospect of that film happening went away. And instead Jon Peters turned his attention to ‘Wild Wild West.’”
“The Sandman” has yet to be renewed for Season 2 at Netflix.
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