Slow Burn creator and Fiasco host to investigate Michael Jackson’s legacy in new podcast

Audible series already generating Twitter controversy pre-release

The co-creator of Slate’s politics podcast Slow Burn and host of Audible original Fiasco, Leon Neyfakh, will be co-hosting an upcoming documentary podcast series exploring the legacy of Michael Jackson. 

The 10-part series titled Think Twice - referring to lyrics from Jackson’s hit song Billie Jean - will explore the pop culture icon’s “complicated legacy” since his death 14 years ago, during which time a number of child sexual abuse allegations have been made against him. 

Neyfakh will co-host the series alongside cultural commentator and hip hop radio veteran Jay Smooth as they explore Jackson’s career and personal life, with new perspectives from original interviews with people who watched his legacy unfold “from up close”. This includes investigative journalist Diane Diamond who broke the story of Jackson’s child molestation allegations in 1993 and covered his criminal trial in 2003.

“What Jay and I realised as we dove into this project was that his story is not just about him, but everyone he influenced with his art, and everyone connected to his tortured personal life,” said Neyfakh. “It’s also about the moral calculations we make as consumers of culture, as we decide for ourselves what to believe and what to look away from.”

Although the podcast’s release date is not till 27 April, the series has already started to spark controversy on Twitter after Neyfakh tweeted about the podcast announcement. The allegations against Michael Jackson have been a topic of fierce debate for decades, with many fans still passionately defending his innocence. 

“When Leon reached out to me about collaborating on a Michael Jackson documentary series, I won’t lie, I was equal parts intrigued and alarmed,” said Smooth in the announcement statement. “But as we both agreed to be up front about our own complex feelings on Michael’s legacy, and let that guide our process of gathering all these different voices and perspectives, I quickly came to see just how rich and rewarding this show would become. Both as a fresh look back at the Michael Jackson story, and even more so as a way to understand — through Michael’s life and afterlife — how our world and culture evolved around him.”

Think Twice is a co-production between Audible and podcast network Wondery, both of which are subsidiaries of Amazon. Audible is also behind Fiasco: The Aids Crisis which is an eight-part original series from the co-creators of Slow Burn on the AIDS epidemic in America hosted by Neyfakh. Episodes of Think Twice will be available on Audible and ad-free for Prime members on the Amazon Music app. 

“Leon Neyfakh once again brings his journalistic chops and striking insight to listeners,” said Audible executive vice president and head of US content Rachel Ghiazza. “In teaming up with established radio journalist Jay Smooth, these creators demonstrate the power of balanced reporting and musical storytelling. The blend of thoughtful cultural commentary and riveting pop culture history makes Think Twice the perfect vehicle for a collaboration with our colleagues at Wondery.”