Motown 25 Special: Expansive Box Set Planned for Release

Sources: Rollingstone – By Ryan Reed | All Things Michael


In 1983, music icons like Michael Jackson, Marvin Gaye, Smokey Robinson and Diana Ross came together for Motown 25: Yesterday, Today, Forever, a live NBC special that celebrated the 25th year of that legendary label. Now an updated version of the program will air Saturday, February 28th at 8 p.m. EST on over 300 public television stations in the U.S., followed by an immediate repeat screening. Motown 25 featured a number of monumental pop culture moments, including Michael Jackson executing his oft-imitated “Moonwalk” during a performance of “Billie Jean” and reunions from the Jackson 5, Diana Ross and the Supremes and Smokey Robinson and the Miracles.

The special will be accompanied by Motown: Big Hits & More, a new seven-CD box set of classic Motown hits, album tracks and rarities. The massive, 144-track release will feature “25 new stereo mixes of classic songs,” including the Temptations’ “Get Ready,” Stevie Wonder’s “Uptight (Everything’s Alright),” Smokey Robinson and the Miracles’ “I Second That Emotion” and Martha and the Vandellas’ “Heatwave.” The new versions were assembled by TJ Lubinsky, an executive producer for several of PBS’ pledge-driven programs. Working with the “original stages and pre-mixed stages” of recordings made at the famed Hitsville USA studio, his team uncovered a number of revelatory surprises.


“Most often the songs went much longer than the fades we are used to hearing,” Lubinsky says in a statement. “And sometimes even extra verses were uncovered, like Smokey Robinson and the Miracles ad-libbing the line, ‘the tracks of my tears, I’ve been crying for years,’ which has never been heard before because it was on the original session tapes past the fade-out on the 45.”

The release will be available to members who pledge to public television stations during the February 28th broadcast of Motown 25 and at



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Reed Shannon On Tour With ‘Motown The Musical’

Sources: The Herald Sun – By Dawn Baumgartner Vaughan| All Things Michael


“Motown the Musical” was a hit on Broadway and closed last month, taking a break to go on a national tour before returning to New York City in 2016. The tour is coming to the Durham Performing Arts Center Feb. 17-22 and is already sold out.

Two young cast members share the role of a young Berry Gordy/Stevie Wonder/Michael Jackson. Reed LoRenzo Shannon, from Wake Forest, got his theatrical start at North Carolina Theatre Conservatory in Raleigh in Raleigh and joined “Motown the Musical” in spring 2014 in Chicago. The Herald-Sun spoke with Reed, 14, recently when he was home in North Carolina on vacation.

It’s been a very busy year for the teenager, so over the break, “I just like to chill,” he said.

Reed’s mom, Belinda Shannon, who works in Research Triangle Park, said her son being cast in “Motown” has changed their lives, but also been exciting. Reed started taking theater classes at age 4 for fun. He has two older sisters — one is a student at Spelman College in Atlanta and the other is a captain in the Army. His future goals include serving as an Army officer.

Reed was cast in “Motown” after going to an open call in New York.

“I was just going to audition to see what my odds were,” Reed said. “There were about 700 people in line with me.” He was called to do a Michael Jackson workshop and was contacted the next day. He then auditioned for Berry Gordy Jr., the founder of Motown itself plus the book writer for the show, as well as for Charles Randolph-Wright, the director of “Motown.” Randolph-Wright is a graduate of Duke University.

When Reed found out he got the job, he was eating. It was a long day and he was hungry, so he kept eating, he said, but smiled when he heard the good news. He began performing the role in Chicago, where he moved with his dad for five months during the production there.

Reed said the Stevie Wonder role is a short part, but he sings for his Michael Jackson role.

“Michael Jackson has such a unique voice, I didn’t want to mess it up,” he said. He listened to a lot of older Jackson songs and Gordy told him about Jackson as a child.

Reed thinks all the songs in “Motown” are “really amazing.” If he had to choose a favorite, it would be “Maybe Tomorrow” by the Jackson 5.

“I love that song. It’s just a nice song and the lyrics are great,” he said.

Reed already knew a lot of Motown songs — his parents played them at home and on road trips.

Reed shares the role of young Gordy/Wonder/Jackson with cast member Leon Outlaw Jr. He explained that because they’re under age 16, they can’t do eight shows a week, so they alternate nights.

“We don’t have a lot of time to do kid stuff,” Reed said, about their time off stage. They go to school, eat dinner and then do the show and go to bed, he said. They do go see who’s waiting at the stage door, though cold weather kept people away lately.

Reed has been to DPAC before, to see the national tour “Billy Elliot.” He’s very excited to be back, this time on stage.

“I just love the thought that I get to show all my friends and family what I’ve been working on since I left a year ago,” he said.

The rest of the “Motown” cast is great, talented, and taught him a lot about the business, Reed said. He’s learned to eat right, not talk all the time to preserve his voice, and to have something with him to keep him occupied.

The most fun part of being in “Motown” has been meeting all the people, he said. The tour is booked until the end of the year. Then what?

“Hopefully I’ll get roles on TV and movies, or a Broadway role in New York,” Reed said. He’ll continue to perform, he said, then go to college.

Durhamites who don’t have tickets already to “Motown” will still have a chance to see Reed and his parents for a special event at Mount Vernon Baptist Church, 1007 S. Roxboro St., in Durham.

Belinda Shannon said they’re excited to be part of Mount Vernon’s Black History Month programs, especially as the musical takes place against the backdrop of the Jim Crow South. The Shannons will visit the church from 4:30 to 5:30 p.m. Feb. 22 for a “fireside chat” about Reed’s career.

WHAT: “Motown the Musical”

WHEN: Feb. 17-22

WHERE: Durham Performing Arts Center

123 Vivian St., Durham

TICKETS: Sold out.


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‘Robert Burns The Musical’ Documentary Planned

Sources: MJWN | The Ayrshire Community Media | All Things Michael


A documentary about ‘Robert Burns the Musical,’ a musical created from an idea by Michael Jackson and David Gest is to be produced. The Ayrshire Community Media is a ‘Not for Profit’ organisation and is registered in Scotland, as a ‘Community Interest Company’ (CIC). It has been invited by the Rock Academy to produce a documentary about ‘Robert Burns the Musical’ and how it came to be. They currently have an indiegogo campaign to try to raise the necessary funds to make this happen.

The musical celebrates the life and works of ‘The Bard’ Robert Burns and it is based on an idea by Michael Jackson and David Gest. David originally had approached the ‘Rock Academy Performing Arts’ to make the actual musical after he found the recordings by Michael. The idea for the original show 20 years ago came about when Michael offered Gest use of the family recording studio in California.

‘Robert Burns-The Musical’ tells the story of the passions of the People’s Poet; the loves of his life and the life of those loves.

The show premiered at the Tivolli Theater, in Aberdeen, on Burns night on the 25th of January 2015. The premiere ‘sold out’ and the company are now organising a production tour.

The documentary will follow the story of the musical and what inspired those who wrote it and the story of the production process, excerpts from the musical and interviews with the cast and the production team. It will also explore why Robert Burns remains ‘The Peoples Poet’ in modern times.

For more details of the campaign and how to help, please click here.


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Sony Pictures Co-Chair Amy Pascal Is Stepping Down In Wake Of Hack

Sources: Mashable | All Things Michael

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Sony Pictures Entertainment announced on Thursday that Amy Pascal, longtime studio co-chairman who was one of many executives to have embarrassing emails leaked in the massive hack in November, is stepping down.

As is often the case when Hollywood studio executives leave their posts, Pascal will launch a production venture at the studio, keeping her deep industry relationships and moviemaking experience in-house. She’ll transition into her new role in May, according to the studio’s release.

The hack has been linked to North Korea over the movie The Interview, a film that Pascal had greenlit.

Pascal’s departure from the Sony corner office was something of a foregone conclusion after the fiasco that devastated Sony and exposed highly personal information of hundreds of its 6,000 employees. But rumors that Pascal was on thin ice persisted in Hollywood for many months before the cyberattack, after a string of high-profile box office failures, in particular the critically and commercially underwhelming The Amazing Spider-Man 2.

Some of the movies under Pascal’s stewardship include:

Casino Royale, Quantum of Solace, Skyfall, The Da Vinci Code, the Spider-man film series, Men in Black, To Die For, Ali, Charlie’s Angels, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, Hancock, Michael Jackson’s This Is it, Awakenings, A League of Their Own, Hitch, Stuart Little, Girl Interrupted, Adaptation, 2012, Bad Teacher, Easy A, Superbad, District 9, Zombieland, Pursuit of Happyness, This is the End, Pineapple Express, Stepbrothers, Talladega Nights, 21 Jump Street, Salt, Closer, Something’s Gotta Give, Eat Pray Love, 50 First Dates, You Don’t Mess with the Zohan, Equalizer, Fury, Big Fish, A Knight’s Tale, Memoirs of a Geisha, The Ides of March, Karate Kid, Big Daddy, The Remains of the Day, Little Women, Sense and Sensibility, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Captain Phillips, Moneyball, American Hustle, Zero Dark Thirty, Groundhog Day, The Social Network and The Interview.

Ms. Pascal got her first job by answering an ad in the Hollywood Reporter. She worked as a secretary answering phones for the legendary BBC producer Tony Garnett.

Ms. Pascal is the first woman since Mary Pickford to serve as a Governor of the Executive Branch at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

This story is developing.


Read the full press release here

Black History Laser Tribute At Capitol Heights Elementary

Sources: Town of Capital Heights | All Things Michael


Proceeds will support student activities Student Performance and Spectacular Laser Show Celebrate the contributions of African Americans in an exciting way. The Black History Laser Tribute is an unforgettable experience for all ages Historical events such as the Tuskegee Airmen and Dr King’s “I Have a Dream” address are brought to life using dazzling laser animations. Audience participation is encouraged during our sing-along to music hits from Aretha Franklin, Michael Jackson, and others.

Black History Laser Tribute-Capitol Heights Elementary

Where: Capitol Heights Elementary School
When: Thursday, February 12, 2015
Time: 6:00pm
Cost: $1.00 for adult $1.00 for students


  • Laser shows are not recommended for very young children.
  • Laser shows feature loud music and dramatic lighting and may not be suitable for some visitors.
  • Strobe lights and special effects in laser light shows may cause seizures in certain individuals. If you have any concerns or questions about the show’s content or nature, please ask the operator/educator before the program begins.


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Denver Mayor Sings Praises Of Motown: The Musical – See Chance To Win Trip/Tickets

Sources: CBS | All Things Michael

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DENVER (CBS4) – It’s the music that you grew up with, and now it’s a Broadway musical that’s headed to Denver.

“Motown: The Musical” is the story behind some of the biggest musical groups and solo singers of the 1950s and 1960s. It’s the music that shaped a generation and now it’s playing out on stage.

Denver Mayor Michael Hancock told CBS4 that he and his wife saw the show on Broadway in New York. He called it phenomenal.

“It’s just a moment in time in music that’s defied time … crossed every racial, ethnic and religious boundary ever set in this world,” Hancock said.

When he got to Denver after seeing the musical, Hancock said that he immediately contacted the Denver Center Attractions to get the show here. He said that the deal was already in the works.

“Motown: The Musical” is the story of how Barry Gordy found and promoted some of the biggest musical acts in the United States. The show explores Gordy’s relationships with stars like Diana Ross, Michael Jackson, Smokey Robinson, Stevie Wonder and Marvin Gaye. It features more than 40 classic songs, including “What’s Going On,” “Dancing in the Street,” “I Heard It through the Grapevine,” “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough,” and “My Girl.”

“‘My Girl’ by the Temptations is my favorite song from Motown. Loved all the music, but ‘My Girl’ resonates because it’s one that’s just crossed every genre, every geographic boundary … every limit in society,” Hancock explained.

He’s pretty clear on his favorite Motown act also.

“Without question, The Temptations. Closely followed by The Jackson 5. We all grew up with the Jackson 5. Certainly, Michael Jackson … the greatest entertainer of all time. But when it comes down to music that lasts forever you’ve got to go with The Temptations,” Hancock said.

What is your favorite Motown song or act? CBS4 in partnership with Denver Center Attractions is looking for Motown’s Biggest Fan. Winners will get tickets to the musical when it comes to Denver, and a grand prize winner will get a trip for two to Boston to see the show from Feb. 9– 11. We want you to put together your best Motown selfie or video and upload it to The deadline for entry is Jan. 30. Winners will be chosen Feb. 2.

“Motown: The Musical” comes to The Buell Theatre March 31 through April 19. Tickets are on sale now.


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MOTOWN THE MUSICAL Ends Broadway Run Today

Sources: Broadway World | All Things Michael


MOTOWN THE MUSICAL, the hit musical featuring the music of the legendary Motown catalogue and a book by Berry Gordy, ends its Broadway run today, January 18 at the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre. MOTOWN is set to return to Broadway at a Nederlander theatre to be announced in July 2016. Last spring, the first National Tour of Motown the Musical opened to critical acclaim, grossing an impressive $20 Million dollars during a packed sixteen-week run, and is now heading to major markets across the US. MOTOWN will also head to London’s West End this summer.

Directed by Charles Randolph-Wright, Motown the Musical is the real story of the one-of-a-kind sound that hit the airwaves in 1959 and changed our culture forever. This exhilarating show charts Motown Founder Berry Gordy‘s incredible journey from featherweight boxer to the heavyweight music mogul who launched the careers of Diana Ross, Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder, Smokey Robinson, Marvin Gaye and many more.


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Berry Gordy Talks About Taking Motown To Broadway

Sources: – A. D. Amorosi | All Things Michael


When Berry Gordy talks about the legendary record company he started in Detroit back in 1959 (originally Tamla Records, it became the Motown Record Corp. in 1960), he describes an entity transcending music. “My Motown is like a tree,” he says with relish. “We go out on branches in every different direction.”

The sounds and sights of Smokey Robinson’s Miracles, Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye, the young Michael Jackson, the Temptations, the Four Tops, and Diana Ross (Gordy’s onetime, longtime paramour) with and without the Supremes made Motown a force of nature in entertainment circles. Since its first hits – many featuring Gordy songwriting credits – the African American label was what it claimed to be: “the sound of young America.” On Tuesday, its offspring, Motown the Musical, begins a two-week engagement at the Academy of Music.

“When I started this, people asked how was I going to Broadway-ize Motown,” says the 85-year-old music mogul, who sold his shares in the label in 1988. “I said instead that I’m going to Motown-ize Broadway.”

A jukebox musical jammed with classic hits, the show is based on Gordy’s growing up in Detroit, then following his professional and personal desires. “The whole thing was a dream-like fairy tale that happened to come true,” he says, a sentiment echoed in a joint phone interview by Nansci Neiman-LeGette, COO of Berry Gordy Productions. “You always have a purpose,” she says, as the pair riff like an old married couple on all things Motown.

Motown the Musical didn’t come to life in 2013 because its writer was a huge fan of musicals. In fact, the only one that ever stuck in his mind was Richard Rodgers’ 1962 No Strings, starring Diahann Carroll. And even that show’s importance to him came down to record labels – Carroll’s then-husband was Monty Kay, an executive to whom the young Gordy had pitched songs.

So it wasn’t love. “I wanted to do Broadway because it was out of my reach,” Gordy says. Then again, with his successful production forays into film (1972’s Billie Holiday biography Lady Sings the Blues) and television (1971’s Diana!), both starring Ross, he figured that conquering theater was an inevitability.

“I always wanted my artists and my music to hit upon every aspect of American life. That’s why we had them do training – glamour training – under Miss Powell, who had a finishing school.” (Maxine Powell, Motown’s director of artist development, died in 2013.) Gordy’s real dream for Motown – the tuxes and beautiful gowns, the charm school, the need for excellence in everything – was to uplift black Americans, to give them something to strive for and be proud of.

The thing is, like the Four Seasons’ Bob Gaudio and Frankie Valli’s mega-successful Jersey Boys, Motown the Musical is rooted in truth as well as aspiration. And that reality, though dazzling in scope, wasn’t always sparkling.

Take Gordy’s relationships with some of his biggest artists and collaborators, such as Holland-Dozier-Holland (Lamont Dozier and brothers Brian and Eddie Holland) and Marvin Gaye.

With Gaye, Gordy fought about the civil-rights message of “What’s Going On,” which he saw as out of step with the crooner’s suave, tailored persona. With Holland-Dozier-Holland, he argued about matters of compensation. With other Motown artists giving him headaches, the self-described “fair-but-firm” Gordy levied fines. “They were so important to me that I couldn’t fire them, so I would fine them,” he says with a laugh.

Then there’s Ross, arguably Motown’s greatest star, with whom the thrice-married Gordy had an affair starting in 1965, and a child, Rhonda, in 1971. Though Gordy considers himself a private person who doesn’t revel in self-reflection, to make Motown the Musical work beyond its bustling sound track of 66 songs, he had to tell the truth.

“I learned that if you don’t tell the truth from the start, your story is not credible. People lose interest.” To do that effectively, he had to include the passion he shared with the lead Supreme. “I’m a reasonably normal person,” he laughs, “and anything that happened to me happens to a lot of men. I had to include the love story of my life. Diana knows that she was the inspiration for everything that I did.”

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According to Gordy, so true did Motown the Musical ring to Ross that when she saw its opening night on Broadway with the relationship between the pair played out on stage, she wept. “On opening night, the artists who left Motown came back,” he says – no one ever really leaves Motown.

Along with fashioning truth into a book for the show, Gordy had to write new songs to knit together elements of the story that his classic hits couldn’t do alone. “I only write when necessary, but I needed glue,” he says. And with that, he’s off and running on a creative trajectory that he once told Billboard magazine would be finished with the start of Motown the Musical.

“I told a lie is what I say now,” he laughs – he’s now working on a cinematic song-and-dance cycle featuring 15-year-old discovery Jadagrace singing about good deeds rather than anger.

“That’s something I love to do . . . be it with Stevie, Marvin, Jadagrace, or Diana: make a better world,” he says.

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