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LOS ANGELES - A small group of dedicated Michael Jackson fans have started an "awareness" campaign surrounding the coming movie This is It, saying it covers up the grim reality of the dead pop star's final days.
The group represents fans from at least 10 countries. They claim the movie, which hits theatres around the world on Wednesday and is based on Jackson's rehearsals for a series of London concerts, conceals the "dire state" of his health while enriching its promoters whom they hold partly responsible for his death on June 25.
"In the weeks leading up to Michael Jackson's death, while this footage was being shot, people around him knew he looked as if he were dying. Those who stood to make a profit chose to ignore it," the group says on its website, www.this-is-not-it.com.
Jackson was preparing for the concerts at the time of his sudden death, which was ruled a homicide by the Los Angeles county coroner and attributed to an overdose of the powerful anesthetic propofol as well as the sedative lorazepam.
Police have focused their investigation of his death on the entertainer's personal physician, Conrad Murray. So far no charges have been filed.
Kenny Ortega, director of This is It who also choreographed the concert rehearsals, told Reuters earlier this week that he saw no signs of drug dependency in Jackson, that the singer was excited to be performing and that the film was not intended to make a profit.
In a separate interview last Thursday Ortega called the movie a "musical mosaic ..."
"It is the story of a master of his craft, a great genius in his final theatrical work and creative process," Ortega said.
The concert promoters, AEG Live, did not return calls for comment. - Reuters