Prince Michael Jackson struck out on his own as a special correspondent for Entertainment Tonight on Tuesday night.
Despite those efforts, Michael Jackson’s 16-year-old son found himself the centre of the story on Tuesday evening.
The 30-minute programme featured clips of co-host Brooke Anderson grilling Prince Jackson with questions in between teasers for his first assignment, while he patiently waited for his moment to step into her shoes and test his skills as an interviewer.
With little known about the length of Prince Jackson’s contract, producers were keen to exploit their most high-profile – and their youngest – new celebrity reporter.
Teasers airing before his debut showed the teenager stiffly dressed as if ready to sit for a serious interview, while co-hosts told viewers about ET’s newest addition.
Critics immediately put out their claws – surely a 16-year-old has not earned the credentials to juggle on-air interviews, despite his or her own status as a celebrity or even a studious cinephile, as Prince Jackson described himself.
His banter with Brooke Anderson was awkward, even cringe-worthy, though on par with exchanges between evening news anchors.
Thrusting a teenager in front of cue cards and a glaring red light did little to enhance the story (Prince Jackson’s first assignment would be to interview the cast of Oz the Great and Powerful).
But viewers, and interested fans of the Jackson clan, did get a glimpse into how young Prince sees himself stepping out of his father’s shadow.
“I’ve been raised around stuff like this so it was different being the interviewer instead of the one being interviewed,” he told Brooke.
Prince Michael Jackson refers to his late father with the ET veteran compliments him on his maturity.
“That’s what most of my people say,” he responds.
“That was all thanks to my dad. He raised me right.”
Prince Jackson was just 12-years-old when his father died, leaving him and his two siblings in the care of extended relatives, including their paternal grandmother, Katherine Jackson.