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Wednesday, November 10, 1999 Published at 12:52 GMT


Jackson's big screen thrilller

Singer Michael Jackson is on track for his first movie starring role

Pop superstar Michael Jackson is about to play hard-drinking writer Edgar Allan Poe in a big-budget independent thriller, according to a report in a US newspaper.

Industry journal The Hollywood Reporter claims the 41-year-old will take the title role in The Nightmare of Edgar Allan Poe, which will start shooting in Montreal late next year.

[ image: Writer Edgar Allan Poe died in 1849]
Writer Edgar Allan Poe died in 1849
It said the singer "has been looking a long time for the ideal story in which to take his first starring role".

His only movie appearance before now was in 1978 as a supporting actor in The Wiz, which starred Diana Ross.

Jackson will also be an executive producer on the project with Gary L Pudney and Jim Green. It will be funded with cash from France, Germany and Canada.

Poe, who was born in Boston, Massachusetts, died aged 40 in 1849 after a life of misery and madness, and an obsessive fascination with the supernatural.

[ image: Jackson (left)  as the Scarecrow in 1978's The Wiz]
Jackson (left) as the Scarecrow in 1978's The Wiz
He was best known for his poems, short tales and literary criticism.

The Fall of the House of Usher, written in 1839, was to become one of his most famous stories, while 1841's The Murders in the Rue Morgue is sometimes considered to be the first detective story.

Other stories include The Tell-Tale Heart. while The Raven is one of his acclaimed poems.

Poe has never before been the subject of a major movie biography, though a 20th Century Fox film called The Loves of Edgar Allan Poe was made in 1942, and the writer was a character in a 1951 MGM mystery called The Man with a Cloak.

Writer Philip Levin, who came up with the idea for The Nightmare of Edgar Allen Poe, is said to be writing the screenplay, which will cover the week before Poe's death.

The exact cause of Poe's death, in Baltimore, remains a mystery. Five days earlier, he had been found semi-conscious and delirious: a victim of alcohol, heart failure, epilepsy - or a combination of these.

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