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Michael taking leave

Singer bows out with 'Different Story' docu

BERLIN — George Michael came to the 55th Berlin Intl. Film Festival to declare the death of pop and his mega-star career along with it.

In town to support the Panorama premiere of candid docu “George Michael: A Different Story,” the English singer-songwriter told a packed press conference that the film was an opportunity to give his account of his celebrity life before he withdraws from the public gaze.

“It’s time to close one chapter and work out what the next chapter will be,” he said. “I just thought it was very important to explain myself before I disappear.”

The movie shows Michael acting as a tour guide around the major venues of his childhood, discussing the ups and downs of his career, including the death of his longtime companion from AIDS, and his arrest for lewd behavior in a Beverly Hills public bathroom.

“I’m not particularly good at being a celebrity,” Michael explained. “I don’t suit the job very well. I’ve tried hard to maintain a standard to my work for 20 years, but I don’t want to put myself through that any more.”

“My own genre is dead,” he asserted. “Pop music has only really survived in terms of pop rock. I’ve thought about this a lot, and the trouble with pop music is that it depends on A&R people to hear what you are doing. With rock, it’s not A&R guys who decide; it’s the kids on the street. If you have a rock group, you have to play live, so by the time the A&R guys get involved, it’s because there’s a buzz from the street.

“But in pop, the people who are employed to do that are clueless. My genre has been killed off by corporate thinking. I don’t want to be a snob, but I don’t think there’s anyone in the modern pop field that I want to spar with. I’m not interested in my industry anymore. If I was U2, I would be, because their genre is still something to be proud of.”

Michael said that when he rose to fame in the 1980s, he was motivated by the challenge from other pop mega-stars such as Madonna, Prince and Michael Jackson.

“I’m not interested in sparring with Robbie Williams or Will Young or maybe Rachel Stevens. I want to move my career into a different area; I just don’t know what that’s going to be. But it’s not going to be trying to get on to the radio and compete with ‘Pop Idol.'”

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