When "American Idol" judge Simon Cowell suggested he hadn't seen "Free Willy," I pitied him for missing out on one of the greatest films in recent history.
The comment came during Tuesday's performance show, when Michael "Big Mike" Lynche performed Michael Jackson's "Will You Be There," the "Free Willy" theme. Cowell said he was unfamiliar with the 1993 film, which tells the story of a boy who befriends a whale.
Wait, you haven't seen it, either? Shame on you. Here are five things you need to know about "Free Willy" and its theme song:
1. There are four "Free Willy" films: the original, "Free Willy 2: The Adventure Home," "Free Willy 3: The Rescue" and "Free Willy: Escape from Pirate's Cove."
2. Keiko, the killer whale who played the title role, died in 2003.
3. Jason James Richter, the actor who played the kid in "Free Willy," is a popular subject of "where is he now?" Internet searches. He had guest spots on some TV shows. Some sources report he's taken up a career in music.
4. Michael Jackson also made the theme song for "Free Willy 2." That tune: "Childhood."
5. I think the best part of "Will You Be There" is the spoken part at the end...especially the last two lines. Jackson says, "I'll never let you part, for you're always in my heart."