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October 30, 2009

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Jackson's 'This Is It' may be an Oscar contender

MICHAEL Jackson's "This Is It" comes too late in the year to be considered for a documentary Oscar, but the film about the late King of Pop's preparations for a series of comeback concerts could qualify for other Hollywood honors, including the Academy Award for best picture.

The film, which opened around the globe on Tuesday and Wednesday has already earned rousing praise from fans and critics, who say it restores Jackson's reputation as a world-class entertainer.

Director Kenny Ortega, a longtime Jackson collaborator who was overseeing his London concert comeback, crafted the nearly two-hour film from more than 100 hours of footage recorded during rehearsals for the London shows, which were to have begun in July. Jackson died on June 25 at age 50.

"What we did here was focus on telling a good story and creating a film for the fans really enabling them to understand what Michael Jackson had dreamed for them," Ortega said on Wednesday.

He added it was his hope "the audience for this film will grow and that as many people come to see it as possible because I think that it's a wonderful story about a brilliant man ... Awards, Oscars, that's all great wishful thinking."

It may have a shot, said Steven Gaydos, executive editor of the Hollywood trade paper Variety. With the Academy Awards best-picture slate expanded to 10 films this year rather than the usual five, "This Is It" could be a contender, he said.

Sony, which paid US$60 million for the global film rights, plans to keep "This Is It" in theaters for just over two weeks. The studio has not said whether it plans to submit the film in any of the Oscar categories.


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