This is no ordinary issue of Entertainment Weekly. That’s because it’s been an extraordinary couple of weeks. It started with Ed McMahon’s passing on June 23, then Farrah Fawcett’s on the morning of June 25. A few hours later, the shocking news of Michael Jackson’s death exploded like a flash fire over social networks. More showbiz losses followed: ’50s TV icon Gale Storm, 87; infomercial king Billy Mays, 50; comedian Fred Travalena, 66. We are happy to report, however, that Jeff Goldblum, George Clooney, Harrison Ford, Natalie Portman, Rick Astley, and Britney Spears are still with us. News of their deaths turned out to be online hoaxes — incredibly tacky hoaxes.
Our website, EW.com, has been keeping you up-to-date with breaking news, 24/7 reporting, tributes, and our popular photo galleries. In this issue of the magazine, starting on page 11, we devote 28 pages to Jackson’s final days, his fascinating life, and, most important, his music. (More commemorative covers are available at ew.com/mjcover.) Yes, his death has overshadowed everyone else’s, notably Fawcett’s. But the truth is, we began mourning her weeks ago, when it became clear that she would not win her battle with cancer. By the time she finally lost, we had already enshrined her in our collective memory as a beloved figure of vulnerability and fortitude.
Now comes time to decide how Michael Jackson should be remembered. The mysteries surrounding his death remind us that he was a strange man indeed. But his passing also reminds us of his timeless songs, his groundbreaking performances, and his singular, sensational artistry, which altered the DNA of pop culture — and changed it for the better. It seems he was designed solely to entertain, and though we can only imagine what his comeback concerts might have yielded, he more than fulfilled his mission.