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Prisoner of Fame

By Alan Ng | July 22, 2021

Is it possible that Michael Jackson faked his death? Is he hanging out in some undisclosed paradise with Elvis and Tupac? Screenwriter Pearl Jr.’s Prisoner of Fame outlines the events surrounding the “death” and “resurrection” of the King of Pop.

Beleaguered pop star Jack London (Phillip Andre Botello) plans to retire from life on the anniversary of the day his head was scarred from an errant fireworks explosion during a soft drink commercial shoot. For the plan to work, Jack enlists his personal physician, Dr. Earl Carter (Carl Gilliard), to assist in the deception. The scheme involves bringing in a brain-dead, dying look alike and pass the “twin” off as a deceased version of the singer.

Prisoner of Fame, directed by Craig Ross Jr., is a dramatization of how Michael Jackson could have pulled off the global scam of faking his death. The short film serves as an appetizer, though some might claim it’s really a commercial, to Pearl Jr.’s four-part Michael Jackson documentary series, Alive. But, motivations aside, I’m here to review the short film as presented.

“…a dramatization of how Michael Jackson could have pulled off the global scam of faking his death.”

I’m pretty skeptical about most conspiracy theories, but I was intrigued to watch the Jack London scam unfold. The screenwriter made the right choice not to mimic Michael Jackson at every turn. Brilliantly, Pearl Jr. also grabs every element of the actual events, including the overdose of Propofol that killed him, and weaves it all together as plausible evidence for the conspiracy.

The point of Prisoner of Fame is to cross every “t” and dot every “i” in showing how Jackson could switch his body out for another but then address how each conspirator was motivated to make the scam work. Pearl Jr. also shows a remarkable sensitivity in explaining the state of mind of the King of Pop and his motivation to disappear from public life in such a drastic way.

I was able to separate my own bias and beliefs about the death of Michael Jackson and find an intriguing story in Prisoner of Fame. Pearl Jr. and Ross Jr. do a fantastic job of presenting a grounded and palatable story. Botello and Gillard give equally outstanding performances. At 12 minutes long, the runtime is perfect for pulling us into the conspiracy and getting out unscathed. Whether you believe it or not, Prisoner of Fame is a fun watch.

Prisoner of Fame can be screened on YouTube.

Prisoner of Fame (2021)

Directed: Carl Ross Jr.

Written: Pearl Jr.

Starring: Phillip Andre Botello, Carl Gilliard, etc.

Movie score: 7/10

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