Spike Lee Gets Inside 'Bad'

2012-30 FEA Venice Bad Michael Jackson H

Jackson on the set of the "Bad" video. Says Spike Lee, "Like all the great ones, Michael made it look easy, but he was a perfectionist."

After 25 years, what more is there to say about Michael Jackson's record-smashing Bad album? "There's a lot of stuff," says Spike Lee, whose new two-hour documentary, BAD 25, premieres Aug. 31 at the Venice festival. "Anybody who assumes they know everything about Michael Jackson, they shouldn't be assuming. You only know the finished product. Ten songs on vinyl and CD, 11 with the bonus song 'Streetwalker.' "

The documentary, he says, "is about the making of that album. We see Michael's work ethic, his collaboration with Quincy Jones and engineer Bruce Swedien, all the great musicians. They bust their ass for years perfecting their craft, and this is a real demonstration of that. Michael made 60 songs for Bad, and he and Quincy had to narrow it down. We see the process from beginning to end."

Lee had full access to Jackson's archives and says, "There's stuff in this documentary that eyes have never seen. It has jam-packed, wonderful music, great interviews."

In addition to appearances by Sheryl Crow, Mariah Carey and Kanye West, Martin Scorsese revisits Jackson's 18-minute Bad video that he directed, watching it for the first time in 20 years.

Why is this documentary premiering at Venice, where Lee also will be honored with the 2012 Jaeger-LeCoultre Glory to the Filmmaker Award? "Venice is one of the great film festivals of the world," he responds, "and this is my fifth time being there, my fifth film. I love Italy. Michael was a global artist. Why not Italy, you know?"