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Last Updated: Tuesday, 6 December 2005, 11:40 GMT
George Michael steps back into spotlight
By Ian Youngs
BBC News entertainment reporter

Pop singer George Michael has attended the UK premiere of A Different Story, a documentary telling his life story.

George Michael with partner Kenny Goss
George Michael attended the premiere with partner Kenny Goss
For an artist who is regularly described as "publicity shy" and complains of a phobia of cameras, George Michael is doing a good job of overcoming his legendary shyness.

In A Different Story, he opens up about his career and private life - from global success to tragedy and controversy.

And he has hit the publicity trail to promote the film, which gives fans the chance to hear about the ups and downs from his point of view - rather than rely on what they have read in the press.

"I really haven't responded to very many headlines over the years and obviously some of them have been pretty garish headlines," says the 42-year-old singer.

"If you're a fan, this film completes the picture, which is only a half-painted picture because I do so little promotion."

George Michael and Andrew Ridgeley
Former Wham! star Andrew Ridgeley took part in the documentary
The film came about, he says, because his former Wham! bandmate Andrew Ridgeley was prepared to speak on camera and his father also agreed to an interview.

"One way or another, I realised there was the potential here to make a really in-depth documentary about the timeline of my career," he says.

"I feel if someone's paid 7 or 8 to go see a film about me, then I'm already fairly safe that I'm talking to fans. So I suppose in that way I found it easier to be honest."

The film starts with a childhood when his father told him he could not sing. "It was like living with Simon Cowell," he says.

But that made him determined to prove his father wrong, he says, and Michael shot to fame at 19 with Ridgeley in Wham!

George Michael
George Michael enjoyed huge solo success in the late 1980s
A decade of dizzying global success followed and he admits he was striving to match the achievements of Michael Jackson and Madonna.

But the film also charts the period after the early 1990s, when Michael's life and image were dogged by trauma and controversy.

He failed in a high-profile court battle with his record label Sony in 1994 and lost lover Anselmo Feleppa to Aids.

"Anyone who's experienced having somebody they love, whether it be a member of the family or a loved one, who has a terminal illness - which HIV was still considered in 1991 - anyone who's lived through that knows that it's a terrifying, terrifying thing," he says.

"I'm a very lucky man. I had things to pull me through, I had good friends to pull me through, I had a great career to pull me through and I know that a lot of people in that position aren't that lucky."

'Cathartic'

The death of his mother in 1997 was also a devastating blow and Michael was arrested for a sex act in Los Angeles the following year, leading to a public admission that he was gay.

Reliving the deaths of his mother and his lover for the film was "an emotional experience", he admits.

"But I think it's been very cathartic actually. I've been able to put some of the hard times in a box and put them behind me."

And despite reports that he is to retire from public life, Michael says he is now ready to face the future with optimism.

Hopefully I'm going to be very productive in the next couple of years
George Michael
"In all honesty, I'd say I've been in a period of kind of semi-hibernation for a good seven or eight years.

"I took the bereavements I went through in the '90s very badly. So hopefully I'm going to be very productive in the next couple of years."

Does that mean getting back on stage - something he has done sparingly in the past 15 years?

"I'm hoping next year is going to include pleasing my fans a little," is all he will say.

George Michael: A Different Story is released at selected cinemas in the UK on 9 December.

SEE ALSO
George Michael to 'marry' partner
29 Nov 05 |  Entertainment
Michael film signals 'retirement'
16 Feb 05 |  Entertainment
George Michael hits back at Elton
14 Dec 04 |  Entertainment
Hunt for George Michael intruder
25 Nov 04 |  Entertainment
Ill George out of comeback show
17 Sep 04 |  Entertainment
George Michael dominates airwaves
28 Apr 04 |  Entertainment

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