The Jacksons: An American Dream

The Jacksons: An American Dream

The DVD cover for the miniseries.
Written by Joyce Eliason
Directed by Karen Arthur
Starring Lawrence Hilton-Jacobs
Angela Bassett
Holly Robinson Peete
Margaret Avery
Alex Burrall
Jermaine Jackson, Jr.
Bumper Robinson
Floyd Meyers Jr.
Monica Calhoun
Jason Weaver
Angel Vargas
Terrence Howard
Vanessa L. Williams
Billy Dee Williams
Wylie Draper
Colin Steele
Theme music composer Harold Wheeler
Original language(s) English
No. of episodes 2
Producer(s) Suzanne de Passe
Joyce Eliason
Jermaine Jackson
Margaret Maldonado
Stan Marguiles
Running time 240 min.
Distributor The Stan Marguiles Company
KJ Films
de Passe Entertainment
Motown Productions
PolyGram Filmed Entertainment
Original network ABC
Original release November 15 – November 18, 1992

The Jacksons: An American Dream is a four-hour American miniseries broadcast in two halves on ABC and originally broadcast on November 15 through November 18, 1992.[1] It is based upon the history of the Jackson family, one of the most successful musical families in show business, and the early and successful years of the popular Motown group The Jackson 5.

The miniseries was executive produced by Suzanne de Passe and Stan Marguiles, produced by Joyce Eliason, Jermaine Jackson and Margaret Maldonado and directed by Karen Arthur. The movie was filmed in Los Angeles and Pittsburgh, where director Arthur had previously filmed her feature film Lady Beware.

The Jacksons: An American Dream is based on Katherine Jackson's My Family autobiography. A critical and commercial success, the program won an Emmy Award for Outstanding Individual Achievement in Choreography. The title alludes to the iconic concept of the 'American Dream'.


The miniseries stars Lawrence Hilton-Jacobs as the Jacksons' patriarch Joseph Jackson, Angela Bassett as the family matriarch Katherine Jackson, Alex Burrall, Jason Weaver and Wylie Draper played Michael Jackson in different eras, while Bumper Robinson and Terrence Howard played Jackie Jackson in different eras, Shakiem Jamar Evans and Angel Vargas played Tito Jackson, Margaret Avery as Katherine's mother Martha Scruse, Holly Robinson Peete as Diana Ross, Billy Dee Williams as Berry Gordy and Vanessa L. Williams as Suzanne de Passe. The opening titles of the film shows footage of the real Jacksons rehearsing, performing on stage, a few clips from the "Can You Feel It" music video, album covers, magazine covers and pictures of the family. The film is mostly based on the autobiography written by Katherine Jackson, who issued the 1990 autobiography, My Family. Part one of the film was based on how Joseph and Katherine managed to raise their children, first in Gary, Indiana, then later dealing with The Jackson 5's early fame and its consequences. Part two of the film is based on the struggles of young Michael Jackson as he deals with his brothers marrying early into The Jackson 5 success, his problems with acne as a teenager, his eventual solo superstardom based on the success of his albums Off the Wall and Thriller and his legendary Motown 25 performance of "Billie Jean" as well as his difficult relationship with his father.

Michael Jackson’s voice is heard on: "Beat It," "Human Nature," "Billie Jean," "I Want You Back," "I Wanna Be Where You Are," "I'll Be There," "Rockin' Robin," "ABC," and "Dancing Machine." On all other songs, the Michael Jackson vocal part is performed by Anthony Harrell, Jason Weaver or Kipp Lennon.


Historical inaccuracies

Michael Jackson's birth scene was shown after the movie displayed the timeline as 1959. Michael was born on August 29, 1958, not 1959.

In the Motown audition scene, Berry Gordy was not actually in attendance. Instead, the audition was videotaped and shown to Gordy at a later time.[2]

In the scene where Michael is recording his vocals for the song "Human Nature", the caption says 1983. "Human Nature" was in fact recorded in 1982 and was in the 1982 release of the Thriller album.

In the scene where Michael is seen shooting for the Pepsi commercial which caused his scalp to catch fire, it shows his body rolling down the stairs.

In fact he actually walked down the stairs with his hair on fire and later realized and did a one rotation spin (not the usual spin move he did) and shaking his head wildly from the pain.

In the scene when Michael Jackson (played by Wylie Draper) is performing "Billie Jean" for Motown 25, the sequin glove is shown being worn on his right hand, rather than being worn on his left hand.


The Jacksons: An American Dream became one of the most popular and successful music-biography miniseries of the 1990s. Part 1 of the miniseries was the third highest-rated program broadcast during the week of November 9–15 with a 21.1 rating.[3] Part 2 of the miniseries was watched by 38.4 million viewers[4] in 22.3 million households[5] becoming the highest-rated program broadcast during the week of November 16–22[5] posting a 23.9 rating, and 36 share.[4] Overall, the miniseries was watched in 38.3 million households and posted a 22.3 rating and 33 share.[6]

The series won an Emmy Award for Outstanding Individual Achievement in Choreography, and was also nominated for Outstanding Individual Achievement in Hairstyling for a Miniseries or a Special, Outstanding Miniseries, and Outstanding Sound Mixing for a Drama Miniseries or a Special.

Bumper Robinson won a Young Artist Award for Best Young Actor in a Television Movie, and Alex Burrall and Jason Weaver both won a special award for Outstanding Young Performers Starring in a Mini-Series. The miniseries was later rebroadcast on VH1 and released to VHS and DVD. The DVD version of the miniseries was released as a two-disc set. The first disc was named "The Early Years" and the second disc was named "The Success Years". In 2004, VH1 would produce Man in the Mirror: The Michael Jackson Story, which picked up Michael's life from the end of The Jacksons to the present, which at the time included him standing trial on charges of child molestation.

The miniseries aired frequently after the death of Michael Jackson. It has been shown on TV One, BET, Centric and VH1. It is followed by Man in the Mirror: The Michael Jackson Story.


The Jacksons: An American Dream
Soundtrack album by The Jackson 5
Released September 29, 1992
Recorded 1992
Genre Soul, Funk
Length 37:51
Label Motown
The Jackson 5 chronology
"2300 Jackson Street" "The Jacksons: An American Dream" "Soulsation!"
Singles from The Jacksons: An American Dream
  1. "Who's Lovin' You"
    Released: October 7, 1969

Track listing

All songs performed by the Jackson 5 except where noted

  1. "Who's Lovin' You" [Live] - 5:39
  2. "Kansas City" (Jason Weaver) - 2:19
  3. "I'll Be There" (Originally on Third Album)- 3:56
  4. "In the Still of the Night" (Boyz II Men) - 2:51
  5. "Walk on/The Love You Save" [Live] - 6:05
  6. "I Wanna Be Where You Are" (Jason Weaver) - 4:21
  7. "Dancing Machine" (Originally on G.I.T.: Get It Together) - 3:17
  8. "The Dream Goes On" (Jermaine Jackson) - 3:50
  9. "I Want You Back/ABC" [Live] (Later issued in its entirety on Live at the Forum in 2010)- 3:23
  10. "Stay With Love" (Jermaine Jackson and Syreeta) - 4:19
  11. "Never Can Say Goodbye" (Originally on Maybe Tomorrow)- 2:59
  12. "You Are the Ones (Interlude)" (3T) - 1:51
  13. "Dancing Machine [Remix]" - 3:43

Track 1 (Who's Lovin' You (Live) & Track 5 (Medley:) - Walk On / The Love You Save (Live):

- Recorded live in Gary, Indiana, May 29, 1971.

Track 9 ((Medley:) - I Want You Back / ABC (Live):

- Recorded live at the Forum, Los Angeles, CA. August 26, 1972

Other songs done in the film but not put on the track:

See also


  1. Zuckerman, Faye B. (November 14, 1992). "Highlights". The Tuscaloosa News. p. 6A. Retrieved 2010-03-01.
  2. CBS News Missing or empty |title= (help)
  3. "ABC posts third straight ratings win". The Modesto Bee. November 19, 1992. p. F5. Retrieved 2010-03-01.
  4. 1 2 Carmody, John (November 20, 1992). "THE TV COLUMN". The Washington Post. p. c.06. Retrieved 2010-03-01.
  5. 1 2 "ABC's 'The Jacksons' finales holds top spot". Daily News. November 27, 1992. p. 3. Retrieved 2010-03-01.
  6. Grahnke, Lon (November 27, 1992). "Highlights". Chicago Sun-Times. p. 6A. Retrieved 2010-03-01.
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