The late Jackson, whose fondness for the story of Quasimodo is well-documented, wanted to be a neighborhood of Disney’s animated 1996 combat Victor Hugo’s The Hunchback of Notre Dame. That’s among the various takeaways from an oral history of the Disney classic from Slash Film’s Josh Spiegel, published in the week. Composer Alan Menken, who handled the music for Hunchback, said he first met Jackson when he was trying to find someone to require on an entire New World for 1992’s Aladdin. At the time, Menken said, Jackson was a “very unique” and “interesting” individual who was “in his own world.”
Later, per Menken, Jackson’s assistant called him “out of nowhere” when Jackson was staying at the Four Seasons Hotel in NYC. “He had to [deal with] allegations about inappropriate behavior with underage kids, and therefore the breakup with Lisa Marie Presley,” Menken recalled. “He’s looking to vary the topic. And he obviously loves Disney such a lot. So I discussed Hunchback. He said he’d like to come to my studio, watch the movie and mention it. So we came in touch with Disney Animation. They said, ‘Meet with him! If he likes it…well, see what he says.’” At the time, the main target was on three songs: Out There, God Help the Outcasts, and Someday. As Menken recalled, Jackson told him he was curious about producing the tracks and recording a number of them.
“We came in touch with Disney,” Menken, whose catalog also includes work on the small Mermaid and wonder and therefore the Beast, said. “It was like somebody dropped a hot poker into a fragile bowl with explosives. ‘Uh, we’ll revisit to you that .’” Ultimately, of course, Disney opted to show down Jackson’s offer to be involved in the songs. “Finally, predictably, the word came back, ‘Disney doesn’t want to try to do this with Jackson,’” Menken said. “I go, ‘OK, could someone tell him this?’ you’ll hear a pin drop, no response, and no-one did [tell him]. It fell to my late manager, Scott Shukat, to inform Michael or Michael’s attorney. on reflection, it had been the proper decision. [But] Quasimodo may be a character… if you check out his relationships together with his family and his father, I might think there’s tons of identification there.”
Peep the complete Hunchback oral history over at Slash Film. In a 2012 biography, writer Randall Sullivan reported on Jackson’s appreciation for the 1939 adaptation of Hunchback. Sullivan even went thus far on the claim that Jackson would regularly watch that version of the Hugo story with a screenwriter friend while discussing his desire to at least one day portray Quasimodo himself. In May of this year, it had been reported that a court had ruled on the worth of Jackson’s image. US Tax Court Judge Mark Holmes determined the price to be US$4.15 million (NZ$5.89 million), which can hamper the estate taxes bill.