A San Francisco man with a criminal past may have some valuable Michael Jackson concert footage in his vault—and the world might just need to brace itself for yet another King of Pop performance movie.
Ron Newt – who claims he declined a wad of cash (he says $200,000) from The National Enquirer in 2005 to say "something happened" between Jackson and his kids when it didn't – is in possession of hours of 1981 Triumph Tour rehearsal and performance footage.
Newt, who has been characterized by Fox News as a pimp and low-level criminal who’s been in and out of jail, claims to have been close to Jackson three decades ago and that the performer gave him the raw concert footage as a gift.
Reportedly inspired by the $260 million "This Is It" earned worldwide, Newt edited his footage into a 64-minute performance narrative.
His movie primarily shows Jackson behind the scenes blocking and directing the show, along with candid clips of the star talking to his brothers. It does include some actual performance footage, and, for super-fans, it could be awe-inducing stuff. The Triumph Tour, which took place between Jackson’s seminal "Off the Wall" and "Thriller" albums, was sold-out in most cities, and was also the basis for an album entitled "The Jacksons Live!"
One major roadblock for the release of Newt’s movie is the issue of rights.
Even if he could prove that he is the legal owner of the footage, Newt would likely need to get clearances from the cameramen who shot the film, all of the people who speak in it, not to mention securing the rights for the songs themselves. The process could prove to be too daunting and expensive a hurdle.
However, according to TMZ, Newt is trying to garner major-studio interest in his film, and he has been quoted by Cinematical as saying he’s already been offered paydays into the seven figures for the 30-year-old footage.
In 1998, Newt’s self-published book, "Bigger Than Big," was released. At that time, Newt admitted to some exaggeration in the memoir – largely centered around his music industry and criminal experiences – to make the story "great."
We have no doubt that a Michael Jackson Triumph Tour film would be fascinating and compelling, but the character behind it might be worth a look by a documentary filmmaker as well.