Throwback Article: The Jackson Fireworks

Sources: People Magazine – By William Plummer (July 23, 1984) | All Things Michael

The Jacksons

Four hours before show time on Friday, the six musicians in the Jacksons’ tour band were pacing their rooms on the fifth floor of Kansas City’s Alameda Plaza Hotel. Studio and live-show veterans all, they had rehearsed the 110-minute multimedia extravaganza for more than three months (most recently during a sound check that had lasted until 4 that morning), but all the preparation couldn’t quiet their opening-night jitters. While they waited to board the unmarked vans that would transport them and the Jackson brothers to jam-packed Arrowhead Stadium, they smoked too much, consulted their watches and horsed around. “My stomach’s got a butterfly in it the size of [sci-fi monster] Rodan,” laughed keyboardist Pat Leonard, 28.

The Jacksons’ sixth-floor enclave—where “Do Not Disturb” signs hung on the doorknobs—was absolutely still. Inside Michael’s suite the Man himself was running through vocal exercises. In a room nearby, brothers Randy, Tito, Jermaine and Marlon—minus Jackie, sidelined by a knee operation—were rehearsing harmonies and bracing themselves for the start of the $50 million, 13-plus city tour that could mark the farewell of the family act that debuted in 1965. Little brother Randy was psyching himself up, trying to sear away the pain in his left leg caused by an auto accident in 1980. “You know how a boxer feels before a fight?” he asked. “That’s how I feel. I want to knock them out.”

“Pain pills,” added Marlon. “We tell the audience to bring pain pills when they come to see us. We want to be so good, so strong, it makes ‘em hurt.”

Gluttons for the sort of punishment Marlon had in mind found it—and then some. The Jacksons packed Arrowhead Stadium for three nights running, and the chief complaints among the 135,000 who witnessed their spectacle was that the brothers hadn’t given them enough licks. “I’d like to see twice as much,” said 19-year-old Donna Slonaker, from Lydon, Kans., “but I’d pay $30 to see it again.”

After months of controversy, suspense and confusion, the Jackson Victory tour—named in honor of the newly released album that has already sold nearly two and a half million copies—was finally on the road, bound next for Dallas, Jacksonville, New York and points beyond. All told the five Jacksons expected to play 47 dates in 16 weeks to the tune of $50-$60 million in ticket sales—and a possible $8 million profit.

When they weren’t fielding criticism about the tour’s exorbitant mail-order ticket policy (which has been changed) and promoter Chuck Sullivan’s demands for reduced hotel rates and free newspaper ad space, the close-knit clan had spent its pre-V-Days polishing the act. There was none of the ambitious partying that once characterized rock tours: Meals prepared by the Jacksons’ two cooks were taken in the privacy of the brothers’ rooms. Idle moments were devoted to playing riffs and (in Michael’s case) autographing photos. The Gloved One slipped out of the hotel (via an elevator leading to the garage) to see Ghostbusters and to announce publicly that he would donate his share of the concert proceeds to charity. On Friday afternoon he accompanied Tito to a local hotel to accept an NAACP award. After that outing, the Jacksons remained en famine until Friday evening, when dressers came to help them into the opening-number costumes. At 9 p.m. the five hopped into a van for the 30-minute ride to the stadium, where the frenzy was cresting.

The audience that awaited them was a Whitman’s sampler of Middle America. They arrived in muddy pickups and customized vans and sporty coupes—not just squealing adolescents in T-shirts emblazoned with Michael’s likeness, but old people as well, and mothers with toddlers, and a rainbow coalition that only these Jacksons could bring together: young people with their parents. Said Andrea Gilliand of Stanley, Kans., speaking from the promontory of 30, “You’re never too old to see Michael Jackson. It’s the best concert I’ve ever been to, and I’ve seen the Stones and the Beatles. But why didn’t he play ‘Thriller’?”

Well probably because he wanted to make his fans privy to the movie that screens daily behind his eyes. The script, for which the androgynous idol did the storyboards, is Arthurian legend as if spruced up by Star Wars creator George Lucas, with an assist from Muppeteer Jim Henson. At the show’s opening, towering animated monsters thunder onstage, to be challenged by Randy (Michael’s creative heir apparent), done up in glittering armor. Randy pulls a laser-lit sword out of a prop rock, slays one of the creatures and commands, “Behold the Kingdom.” Belching smoke shot with green and blue and purple, the set elevates and out come the brothers, who make a dramatic descent down a set of newly revealed stairs into a deafening wave of screams.

Although Jermaine sings lead on three of his own songs and the other Jacksons have their moments, Michael seizes center stage and holds it. Resplendent in a silver sequined jacket with a red-and-white sash (one of his four costumes), he leaps into the air, freezes, whips about, drops to one knee and curls into a fetal position. He’s arrogant on Beat It, tender on She’s Out of My Life, triumphant on Billie Jean. His Heartbreak Hotel is so full of pops, stops, bangs and breaks that by the time he’s done the crowd is inspecting its arms for imaginary bruises.


The Jackson tour is a spectacular production, and it comes with a spectacular price tag: in the neighborhood, says promoter Sullivan, of $15 million. The 375-ton stage, itself a costly proposition, is five stories high, 160 feet wide and 90 feet deep. It has seven computers and five elevators that require 22 men to operate. What with the 120 speakers, 2,200 lights, and the trestles and cables, the Jacksons’ baggage adds up to some 65,000 pounds. The crew numbers 1,500, including those recruited locally to stage the finale—a sky-splitting fireworks show.


At Arrowhead more than 170 officers from area police departments kept the peace. They were abetted by 375 security guards hired by the stadium management, nine paramedics, two doctors and six nurses. A helicopter and four ambulances idled at the ready, and the crowd was frisked at the entrances by nearly 70 hand-held metal detectors. In fact security was so tight that Sullivan himself was denied backstage access on opening night when he forgot his pass.

Happily, the Jackson tour brain trust—which had prepared for a disaster on the order of the Stones’ 1969 concert at Altamont—was confronted instead with the docility of a church social, a decorous reflection of Michael Jackson himself. Only nine arrests were made at Arrowhead, says a stadium spokesman, most for disorderly conduct. The only real high jinks came from Don King, the fright-wigged boxing czar and erstwhile tour promoter. Supplanted by Sullivan in June he nevertheless continued to hold forth as if he were running the show. “We’re traveling virgin territory,” he announced as he held court in the Alameda Plaza lobby. “There are no boundaries. If Michael had time to work as hard as Wayne Newton, 150 dates a year, he could make $200 million. But who wants to work that hard?”

The Jacksons worked hard enough as it was. But the threat of exhaustion seemed irrelevant to Randy, who elatedly hopped about on hotel chairs Saturday as he relived the electrifying opener. “It was great to be back up there,” he said. “My leg was killing me, but I know it was the best opening show we’ve ever done. Afterward I couldn’t sleep. My mother called just to say ‘I love you and thought you were good.’ My mother’s all about love.”

Meanwhile, down in Jacksonville, Mayor Jake Godbold was also falling in love. “It’s time we reached for the stars,” he said. Godbold had calculated that the Jacksons’ three-day stint in his fair city would cost the local government $445,000 in salaries and promotions—a piddling sum compared to what visitors would spend for lodgings, meals, gas and Michael Jackson geegaws. “Seventy million dollars,” he told the City Council, lingering over the last word. “Seventy million dollars.”


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Throwback Article: “BAD” Luck Has Michael Jackson’s New Protégée Singer Siedah Garrett Looking Like A Sure Thing

Sources: People Magazine (Published November 23, 1987) | All Things Michael


Three years ago when Siedah Garrett heard that Michael Jackson’s producer, Quincy Jones, was looking for singers, she climbed into her battered yellow VW and drove calmly to the audition in downtown L.A. She was calm as she stood in line with 800 others, calm as she sang her number, calm as she waited 11 months to hear back. But when word came that Garrett, now 26, would be among the Gloved One’s chosen few for his new album, she finally crumbled. “How could I ever fathom that?” she squeals. “What female of my generation would not want to meet Michael Jackson, work in the studio with him and sing on his record? Oh, my God! It was unreal.”


It has grown even less real since. In addition to picking “Man in the Mirror,” a song Garrett co-wrote, as one of the 10 cuts on Bad, Jackson asked the bubbly Californian to duet with him on “I Just Can’t Stop Loving You,” which zoomed to the top of the charts after the LP was released in August. Garrett now has her own single, “Everchanging Times” (from the movie Baby Boom), did a guest spot as a jazz singer on the NBC series Private Eye and has a solo album due out in March. “Sid is the freshest and most soulful of the current musical ‘brat pack’ of singer-songwriters,” says Quincy Jones. “And she has the energy of a 747.”

For Garrett, acclaim doesn’t come as a complete surprise. Born and raised in L.A., she started singing as a child, and from the very beginning she knew she was good. “I had a plan for making it,” she says. At 13 she swapped her name, Debra Christine, for the more exotic Siedah (it rhymes with Aïda), which she translates as “shining and starlike.” Rhythm-and-blues vocalist D.J. Rogers, a client of her mother, an interior designer, heard what Siedah could do and hired her for his 1978 album. After high school she sang with local bands, belted her way through major TV commercials (L’eggs, McDonald’s), recorded with Sergio Mendes and was ready for Michael when he was ready for her.


And how did they get along? “He was incredibly mild-mannered and had a great sense of humor,” says Garrett. “He told me I look like Pebbles Flintstone. Singing opposite him was like, wow, like holding a comet by the tail.” Siedah is feeling pretty celestial all on her own. “Watch out, world,” she says. “I’m comin’ on strong!” Whatever happens, don’t say you weren’t warned—the next voice you hear may be hers.


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Throwback Article: Emmanuel Lewis Got A Boost From Michael Jackson, But As Webster He Stands on His Own

Sources: People – By Jane Hall (Published April 9, 1984) | All Things Michael


Everyone wants to cuddle Emmanuel Lewis, the doll-size star of ABC’s hit sitcom Webster—particularly Michael Jackson. Emmanuel’s pal carried him onstage during the American Music Association Awards last January, holding the boy like a live statuette. At the Grammys in February, a beaming Emmanuel sat beside Michael, but this time he didn’t accompany Jackson to the stage. “He asked me,” says Emmanuel, “but I said no. I was afraid that people would laugh at me.”


For the pint-size comic, appearing in public is no laugh riot. One well-meaning stranger recently frightened Lewis’ family by picking him up and walking off with him briefly in the Los Angeles airport. Although 13 years old, Emmanuel stands barely 42 inches tall and weighs 40 pounds. But that isn’t the only incongruity he represents. Michael Jackson’s new friend is a baby mogul who alternates between being a vulnerable boy and the self-assured star of a series. One minute he is giggling helplessly, the next he is pontificating like a showbiz veteran. “I do what I believe,” he says, perched on a windowsill in his dressing room trailer. “Since I know how crazy this business is, I do the opposite of what I see other people doing.”

Despite their 12-year age difference, Lewis’ mix of savvy and innocence makes him a well-suited companion for Jackson. If Michael has qualities like E.T., as director Steven Spielberg has suggested, then Emmanuel is his Elliott, the boy who shares E.T.’s fantastic world. “Michael is the best friend you could ever have,” declares Lewis. “He’s gentle, not rough like other guys. I can count on him any time, and he can count on me.”

Introduced by mutual friends, Emmanuel and Michael have been buddies since they met during the taping of the Thriller video. They visit each other’s homes frequently. For Emmanuel’s other pals, such as Kim (The Facts of Life) Fields, the Jackson connection is also special. “They’re both real silly,” recalls Kim of one get-together. “When the three of us were together, you could hardly believe we were three celebrities.” Emmanuel is more modest about his activities with Michael. “Those are secret things,” he says. “The fun things we do together are just for me and him.”


Emmanuel’s appearances with Jackson have raised both his profile and the public’s interest in Webster. In the series Lewis stars as an orphaned 7-year-old cared for by Alex Karras and Susan Clark. Although the show capitalizes on Emmanuel’s size, Karras is adamant about not exploiting it. Karras and Clark refuse to pick Emmanuel up on-camera, which caused a dispute that briefly closed down the show early in its production. “That’s Charlie McCarthy—it’s so sick,” says Karras, the father of six. “Emmanuel is not handicapped.” Producer Bill D’Angelo admits at first there was “a tendency to coochie-coo him, but we stopped that.”

Lewis insists he is ready to act his age on-screen as well as off. “I don’t really want to play younger,” he says. “It’s time to grow up.” Which presents D’Angelo with a dilemma. “Those of us who love him want him to grow,” says D’Angelo. “But on the other hand, his size is part and parcel of his charm.” If Emmanuel spurts up, D’Angelo concedes, “we’ll work it into the show.”

Thus far the boy’s size has been his fortune. Born in Brooklyn, he has been raised by his mother, Margaret, a onetime computer programmer. She has been divorced from Emmanuel’s dad 11 years. When an actor in his neighborhood suggested four years ago that Emmanuel get into the business, “I made a quick decision and said, ‘Sure, but you’ll have to talk to my mommy,’ ” recalls Lewis. His irresistible mug brought him quick success in more than 40 commercials. Webster was born when an ABC executive saw him in a Burger King spot and said, “Get me that kid.”

Mrs. Lewis, who is about 5′ tall, insists that “there is absolutely no medical reason” for Emmanuel’s short stature. She had her son examined by several physicians, she says, and even asked about hormone treatments before being told they weren’t necessary. She takes comfort in Emmanuel’s brother, Roscoe, 16, who was Emmanuel’s size until three years ago, when he started shooting to his present height of 6’1″.

Lewis has grown about two inches in the past year, reports his mother, who notes her son gets excited whenever he outgrows his clothes. Says Lewis, “I’m perfectly healthy.”

Several outside medical authorities concur that this is not an uncommon growth pattern. Observes Dr. Douglas Frazier, professor of pediatrics at the University of Southern California, “It is quite possible to be extremely short in childhood and early adolescence but mature later to a normal adult range for your family.” Adds Dr. Josiah Brown, chief of endocrinology at UCLA, “The growth spurt doesn’t really start until adolescence anyway.”

Deeply religious like his friend Michael, Emmanuel views his condition as part of a grand plan. “If I’m small right now, it’s got to be for a reason,” he says. “When it’s right for me to grow, it’ll come. Even if you rushed it, you’d still have to wait, because God already planned it.”

Now that Webster is on hiatus, Lewis is returning to the family home in Brooklyn, where he lives with his mother, brothers Roscoe and Chris, 14, and sister Lizzie, 19. Although he has a tutor on the set of his show, Emmanuel also attends a public junior high in Brooklyn for children interested in the arts. Before Webster, “Sometimes kids used to give me a hard time,” admits Lewis. “But they’re on my side.”

In his trailer, between lessons and rehearsals for last month’s People’s Choice Awards show, on which Webster was selected best new comedy series, Emmanuel talked fondly about his collection of teddy bears in Brooklyn. “I can’t count how many I have,” he says. “They’re all over the house. They get so sad when I leave but I sit down and explain it to them.” What he wants is “a bear big enough to reach all the way to the top” of a room. “I’d sit in his lap and he would be the father of all the little bears,” he says.

It is time for an afternoon nap before the show, but the youngster is not sleepy. He suddenly remembers his new Paddington bear and rushes to locate him. “He’s the lost bear and wants to be loved,” Emmanuel explains. Then, obediently, he lies down on the dinette bench, snuggles with his stuffed toy and closes his eyes.


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Michael and Emmanuel – Late 80’s

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A copy of Michael Jackson: Dancing the Dream (Doubleday, 1992), inscribed on flyleaf to Emmanuel Lewis. Inscription reads in full “To Emmanuel Rubba I love you like a brother you are my spiritual brother love Michael P.S. Keep the grits coming.” Accompanied by five photographs of Jackson and Lewis together with three photographs of Jackson alone.

From The S&S Archives: Michael Jackson Thrills

Sources: Stars and Stripes (Published June 25, 1988) | Edited By – All Things Michael


HE WAS BARELY a speck in the distance, but what an exciting speck he was. Michael Jackson danced, pranced, moonwalked across stage, kicked his legs high, gyrated and spun in a mesmerizing two-hour, performance in Basel, Switzerland, last week, causing near mass hysteria among the more than 55,000 fans packed into the city’s football stadium. On stage he works hard for his money (in estimated $1 million per show).

If he says he’s a shy pussycat in private, in concert he’s a ferocious tiger bursting with unrestrained energy. Even his voice, a timid squeak in rare public pronouncements, is strong and confident when he tells the crowd “I love you – ich liebe euch” over and over at the end of the show.

Jackson’s music, too — those bright, catchy, all-too-familiar little pop tunes heard over the radio — receives an unexpected, yet thrilling, hard-rock edge in concert. Metal riffs, blasted out by a leather-and-studs clad, bleached-blond lead guitarist, tear through the songs with a ferocity that would rival the best of the current crop of metal axemen. If Jackson were ever to release a live album, his music would surely appeal to hard-rock fans.


European promoters have been billing the Jackson tour as “the event of the century.” For once the hype is true. Spectacular lights and pyrotechnical effects, amazing choreography, superb musicians, Jackson’s multiple costume changes and mind-boggling magic tricks, courtesy of Las Vegas’ Siegfried & Roy, all add up to one heck of an event. In Basel, even the weather played a magical part when a sudden flash of lightning flitted across the darkened sky. (Or was that just a trick too?)

Highlight of the show? Virtually each song is a highlight, each minute of the concert offers some special effect or fancy footwork. All eyes seem irresistibly transfixed upon the giant video screens that show sometimes daring closeups of Michael Jackson on the move.


In Thriller, the title track of his 1982 multi-platinum release (the biggest selling album in music history), Jackson appears on stage as a teen werewolf, complete with mask, and rages about like a mad beast before disappearing into a white Bedouin tent. Then — a big bang, and Jackson magically appears swinging Tarzan-like on a rope on the other side of the stage.

Another split-second disappearing act comes during Beat It, Jackson’s 1983 smash single. A silver shroud falls from the ceiling and hides the singer from view. A bang — and Jackson appears atop a mechanical arm that slowly swings forward over the crowd.

In Heartbreak Hotel, a single Jackson released with The Jacksons in 1980, he is seen in silhouette dancing behind a screen. When the screen lifts, he and four dancers frolic about stage in Mad Max getup. Man in the Mirror, from Jackson’s current Bad LP, reveals a double image of the star on the video screen. (Jackson had sense enough not to show the pseudo-political video to the song, described by the New York Times as “the most offensive video clip ever” for showing news footage of homeless people, starving children, aerial warfare and similar scenes, all for the sake of selling an album.)

In Billie Jean Jackson displays his true dancing talent. Fascinating closeups on the video screen show the singer doing his famous backward gliding moonwalk and dancing about on his toes without the help of toe shoes. And, yes, it is during this song that he wears his famous white glove.

Jackson doesn’t mind sharing the spotlight, either. In Beat It and Dirty Diana he engages in a guitar-voice battle with the lead guitarist. A funky instrumental tune features bass, drum, keyboard and synthesized guitar solos.

For sheer entertainment, Jackson’s show gives the fans their money’s worth. Let him have all the eccentricities he wants to off stage, as long as he keeps up his exciting on-stage performance — and maybe comes around a little more often. This reporter, for one, certainly has a new-found respect for Michael Jackson as a singer, dancer, entertainer and all-around showman.

The only criticism is that it all went way too fast.


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‘When Michael Jackson Visited Mainland China’

World Meet US (Published June 29, 2009) | Edited By – All Things Michael


“Most of his fans in China regret that he never performed on the mainland. However, 22 years ago, he stepped on Chinese ground. He was fascinated by the rice fields, water buffalo and ducks in the pond. … Jackson took a group photo with children in Yongmo Village. On his face there’s a free and sweet smile, which makes him look like the ‘King of the Kids.’ Michael wrote below the photo: ‘When I saw the Chinese kids, I couldn’t resist them.”

– Michael Jackson’s tour guide in China, Liu Guangzhi

At 5:26am on June 26, Michael Jackson, the ‘King of Pop” passed away at the age of 50 when his heart stopped. His Chinese fans feel deep regret that he was never able to hold a concert in mainland China. However, what few people know is that the pop star visited Zhongshan City 22 years ago. In 1987, when on holiday in Hong Kong, Jackson visited Zhongshan as a tourist. This was the only visit he made to mainland China during his lifetime.

On the evening of June 27, with the assistance of the Zhongshan China International Travel Service [Zhongshan CITS], our reporter contacted Liu Guangzhi, who now lives in the United States. He is a Zhongshanese and once worked for Zhongshan CITS. On October 23, 1987, he accompanied Michael Jackson as a tour guide during his one-day visit to Zhongshan.


“He came to Zhongshan to see what China was like.” says Liu Guangzhi, who now lives in the U.S. state of Maryland. Having a good command of English, on that day in October 1987, Liu was assigned to receive a tourist group, among which was Michael Jackson. At the time, Liu was only 23 years old.

Jackson was wearing dark green shirt, black trousers and black frame glasses. He appeared friendly and quiet. “It wasn’t until I got the list of tourists that I discovered I would be receiving Michael Jackson.” Liu’s excitement was still evident as he spoke of the events of that day, twenty-two years ago.

“On the list there were arrangements for vehicles and restaurants. Then I realized that a superstar was coming!” That very tourist list is still kept in very good condition. Michael Jackson’s name is on the top. Under the column “occupation,” it reads “Entertainment Industry.”

Lui agrees that, “Most of his fans in China feel regret that he never performed on the mainland. However, 22 years ago, he stepped on China ground.”


It was a sunny day and that morning, 12 tourists including Michael came to the Gongbei Customs office from Hong Kong. Liu guided them to Yongmo Village, Sanxiang Town, then on to Cuiheng Village, Nanlang Town, in order for them to enjoy the beautiful scenery in the hometown of a great man [Dr. Sun Yat-sen, father of modern China].

In 1987, although China still wasn’t very open to foreign pop music, a large group of young people in Zhongshan knew of Michael Jackson thanks to his best selling CD Thriller.

“He was very nice. At that time, he wasn’t surrounded by a large group of bodyguards. In Yongmo Village, many foreign tourists and villagers recognized him and asked for photographs and signatures.”


Michael only spent 40 minutes in Yongmo Village. He was obviously quite interested in the Chinese village, which was not modernized. “He was fascinated by the rice fields, water buffalo and ducks in the pond. Along the road there were villages and farmhouses.” Liu said that the friendliness and hospitality of the villagers, as well as their simple lifestyle, attracted Jackson deeply. “He walked on the bluestone road in Yongmo Village, looking with great interest at a baby wrapped in swaddling cloth. He also said ‘Hi’ to children and took photos with an old woman in front of her house. He and his companions took lots of pictures and videos of the village.”



Jackson took a group photo with children in Yongmo Village (below), which appears in his autobiography. In the photo Liu sent to our reporter, the young “King of Pop” was surrounded by several lovely children. On his face there’s a free and sweet smile, which makes him look like the “King of the kids.” Michael wrote down his feelings below the photo: “When I saw the Chinese kids, I couldn’t resist them.”


Visiting Zhongshan city in Guangdong Province, the hometown of the revered father of modern China, Dr. Sun Yat-sen, Michael Jackson poses with some local children, in October 1987.


“He admired Dr. Sun Yat-sen and was interested in his Chinese tunic.”

They had lunch at the Zhongshan Hot Spring Resort. A large group of Americans saw him there and recognized him. So they took photos with him excitingly. “Michael Jackson was a vegetarian at the time, so we prepared vegetarian food for him. Other than that, it seemed that he wasn’t very picky about food.”

After lunch, they went to Cuiheng Village, Nanlang Town. They visited the Museum of Dr. Sun Yat-sen and the Zhongshan Memorial Middle School. “As the main attraction in Zhongshan, the Museum of Dr. Sun Yat-sen and the houses in Cuiheng Village were the “must-go” places for many foreigners.” Liu said.

Before he came to China, Jackson wasn’t familiar with Dr. Sun Yat-sen. He listened to Liu’s introduction and gradually came to understand the revolutionary road of Sun. “In the Museum of Dr. Sun Yat-sen, he showed great interest in architecture with Chinese characteristics. He asked me to tell him stories about Dr. Sun Yat-sen. He seemed to admire him a lot.”


The photograph of Dr. Sun Yat-sen wearing a Chinese tunic suit attracted Michael’s attention (photo, left). He inquired about the origin and design of the Chinese tunic suit. “It was said that he had a Chinese tunic made to order in Hong Kong and brought it back to the United States.”

The seven-hour-visit was soon over. Before he left, Jackson told Liu Guangzhi that, “the scenery of Zhongshan is similar to Switzerland. Everything is green.”

“He left us with good memories. He was very quiet but also very friendly and would greet the children and take pictures with them. His stay was so short that we didn’t have a chance to discuss specific topics in any detail.”

Liu feels regret over this. But he was touched by Michael’s carefulness. “When he went back to Hong Kong, he asked his agent to send the group photo to me – and he signed it.”


Together with the photo of Liu, he sent the photos of the kids and the old woman in Yongmo Village as well. Liu sent those photos back to the village. To this day, many of these photos remain in the villager’s homes. “To us, it was a wonderful memory. And Michael had kept it for us.”


In 1990, Liu Guangzhi applied for further study in the United States. He brought these memories to the U.S. with him, including the tourist list and photos taken at that time. Now Liu counts them as some of his most precious things. “Though he is gone, I will always think of him when I look at those photos. He’s an extraordinary superstar and will remain in our minds.”

Read more at World Meets


Sources: Nation Enquirer | Edited By – All Things Michael


ULTIMATE pop kult smackdown! Did MICHAEL get MARCIA-ed? Did GREG do an “eclectic boogaloo” with JERMAINE?!

It all went down nearly 43 years ago as the much ballyhooed duel of the titans since Ali fought Liston.

Back in the dark ages, when there were only THREE TV Networks, the new crop of Saturday morning cartoons were ballyhooed each season with prime time specials.

The Brady Bunch met the Jackson 5 on neutral turf on a “sunshine-y day” in 1971.

On the kidvid promo Brady Bunch Visits ABC, the fictional Mike and Carol Brady dropped off the brood off at the studio.

Making their way through the morass of sugary-coated fare,  the Cali kids met Motown cool  — on the scene to promo their own new Saturday morning cartoon, “The Jackson 5ive”.

A pint-sized Michael Jackson led the Detroit delegation and Greg, “Johnny Bravo” led The Silver Platters singers, who would have their own cartoon show as well — The Brady Kids.

Evidently, a good time was had by all despite the seemingly staged PR pic.

Score Card:

Bradys:  6           Jacksons:  5

Hit Song: 

Bradys: “Sunshine Day”

Jacksons:  “ABC”

Episodes aired:

The Brady Kids:  22

Jackson 5ive:  23 episodes

Latter day incarnations:

Brady Bunch: (2 feature films – reboots)

Jacksons:  Michael

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For a larger view, click on the picture below, then click on picture at the link provided.



Sources: American Popular Culture (Published June 2009) | All Things Michael


Don Wilson produced, directed, and edited one of the most popular music videos of all time, the video for Michael Jackson’s hit song “Man in the Mirror.” We caught up with him to ask him about his experience working on that compelling artifact of American popular culture history.

Americana: With the recent passing of Michael Jackson, TV stations such as VH1 and MTV have been playing Jackson video retrospectives. One of the most revered is your “Man in the Mirror.” How does that make you feel?

Don Wilson: Well, firstly, I’m shocked and saddened by his death. It was obvious that Michael was not in a good place mentally or physically, so I hope for his soul that he’s found some peace. Regarding the video, it was a life and career changing thing. A friend played the newly released Bad record for me on a Walkman with small speakers and when I heard “Man in the Mirror,” I was blown away and told my friend that the song would be huge. I couldn’t get it out of my head. As fate would have it, I got a call to meet with Michael the day after Thanksgiving 1987 to talk about doing a video for the song, so, needless to say, it was a magical thing for me. It was an honor to be chosen to do the video and a task I did not take lightly. As I traveled from city to city looking for the footage, I realized the task was a big one. I soon understood that much of the footage had been seen on news programs, and I needed to present it in a way that made it compelling and watchable. I decided to make the video “reversible.” What I mean is if one were to play the video in reverse they’d notice that it begins with purity and innocence, and man’s innaction and injustices create chaos, hopelessness and war. I wanted people to feel tearful and affected and maybe for a second they’d think about doing something to change things. I’m glad people still like it. They tell me it’s on a lot of top ten lists, all time greatest music videos. I’m very proud of it.

A: Since you worked with him, Michael took quite a hit in terms of his reputation. Do you have any thoughts on the media frenzy concerning his personal life?

DW: You know, Michael was always a tender, sweet guy. He truly believed in the purpose behind “Man in the Mirror.” I know he struggled with some issues, but when I worked with him, he was generous, caring, and spared no expense to do everything the right way.

A: It’s quite a big deal to do such a music video with such a worldwide superstar.

DW: No question. He gave me opportunities that changed my life. The person at his record company, Larry Stessel, also had a lot to do with helping me as well and continued to support me in the music video business until it changed in the 1990s.

A: So you worked on other Jackson projects.

DW: Yes, the first thing I ever did was the Jackson’s Live in the early 80s. I edited other music videos, biographies, and directed a CBS Special called Michael Jackson: The Magic Returns.

A: Let’s return to “Man in the Mirror.” The video is noted for the footage. How did you get all that compelling material?

DW: I literally traveled the world gettting all that footage together. Some of it was archival. Other sequences, we shot. It was grueling too. I would give a list of shots I was looking for, and they would wheel out stacks of tapes with famine, war, disasters, and other imagery that would leave me shell shocked. It was a gut wrenching task for sure. One of the things we did, and it was a new thing at the time, was to paint color on certain images to emphasis something. For instance, the black and white scene of the Kennedy funeral procession, I had the American flag draping the coffin painted red, white, and blue. I had the bullets being fired from a Vietnam era bomber painted bright red. These things were subtle, but subconsciously it made it watchable and sort of reset the subconscious circuit breaker.

A: How did you get the idea to do a video without the star in it? You know, not featuring the star.

DW: We actually shot a lot of material with Michael, but it didn’t work with all the difficult images we were showing. You can’t really show a mega-star getting out of a limo after you’ve just shown kids starving in Africa. So the lyrics really dictated the content. You know, as I began to edit the piece together, I quickly realized it was way bigger than any one person. Larry Stessel, Michael’s record exec, agreed.

A: How involved was Michael in the edit bay?

DW: He left me alone. He came in once to see a cut, and he was moved to tears. When he finally gained his composure, he looked at me and said, “No changes.” We did have to change two shots because of logos that we could not get clearance for, but no creative changes were ever made from the first version. That’s pretty much unheard of.

A: Is it true that he didn’t see the final cut until he was on the stage singing the song live at the Grammys?

DW: Yes, that is true. They put up a forty foot screen, so he could see the video as he sang. He was stunned by the whole experience. At the end of the song, he collapsed on the stage and had to be helped to his feet. I was stunned too, and I think that is when it all sank in.

A: A lot of people are impacted by the video. Some even say they changed their lives after seeing it. What’s your response to that?

DW: I think “Man in the Mirror” is a very important song. I mean, the lyrics are just incredible. I felt a responsibility to do something great. We did realize at the time that we wanted to impact humanity. I’m glad to hear that some say we did.

A: Did you ever consider doing a remake?

DW: We always wanted to do an updated version and were very close to having discussions with Michael, but fate changed all that.

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Throwback Article: Michael Jackson Innocent In The Eyes Of Fifth-Graders

Sources: Baltimore Sun – By Sandra Crockett (Published February 22, 1994) | All Things Michael

Michael is innocent

Michael Jackson’s accusers have spoken. The critics have waded in with their opinions. Now it’s the kids’ turn to speak out.

And their opinion is worth hearing because kids will help determine whether Mr. Jackson, who on tonight’s “The Jackson Family Honors” on NBC performs for the first time since being accused of molesting a child, will be yesterday’s news or keep his superstar status.

If the 30 or so fifth-graders in Renee Johnson’s class at Baltimore County’s Deer Park Elementary School are any measure, The Gloved One won’t have much trouble getting on with his musical career.

“There is nothing wrong with his career,” Wayne Lee, 11, says emphatically.

But when Mr. Jackson settled the child molestation civil suit without admitting guilt but paying an unspecified amount (rumored to be between $10 million and $24 million) to his 14-year-old accuser and the boy’s family, he did lose a valuable endorsement.

Pepsi ended a 10-year relationship with Michael Jackson that reportedly paid him $20 million in endorsement fees during that period.

Mr. Jackson, however, is still a rich man. Forbes magazine has estimated his worth as $150 million.

But the charges and the settlement have not dimmed Wayne’s or other children’s enthusiasm for Mr. Jackson’s music.

“The people that accused him are just out for money,” says Wayne, who is into Michael Jackson music “big time.”

Some of the children’s comments revealed their own gentle innocence and belief that this world is an uncomplicated place.

“He gave all of that money to children and sick children,” says 10-year-old Cortney Williams. “He couldn’t have given all of that money away and then done that. Michael Jackson is innocent,”

“I think he’s innocent,” agrees Breyann Corbin, 10. “Michael Jackson can have anybody he wants. He wouldn’t have to sneak around.”

“I know he is innocent,” says Torrey Lewis, 10.

“I’m not reallly a fan of his, but it’s just not like him. From everything I have heard, he could not have done it,” says 10-year-old Sean Quinn.

“That boy is lying,” Tiffany Wilson, 11, says of the child accuser, adding that Mr. Jackson “paid the money to him so he can get on with his life.”

The Jackson who received the most scorn was LaToya, the sole family member who said her brother was guilty. “That LaToya, she just wants to be the famous one,” Wayne says.

“She’s jealous of her brother,” Tiffany adds.

Of course, a few of the 10- and 11-year-olds were left wondering about Mr. Jackson’s guilt or innocence after he paid the settlement. “At first, I thought he was innocent. But when he went and paid all of that money, it made him look guilty,” says Justin Mills, 10.

And like many adults, some children don’t know what to make of the accusations and the payoff. “I’m kind of stuck in the middle,” says 10-year-old Jennifer Ball, who leans slightly more toward thinking he’s innocent.

The children’s parents have talked about the case with their curious children. “We’ve discussed whether or not he could be guilty or whether he was a victim of circumstance,” says Roslyn Corbin, Breyann’s mother.

Breyann enjoys Michael Jackson’s music, which is fine with Mrs. Corbin. “I support her decision,” the mother says of her daughter’s desire to still listen to and buy Michael Jackson music. “Yes, I would buy his music.”

One parent was surprised that her child’s interpretation of what happened to Michael Jackson was different from hers. “Sean believes that he could not have possibly done it,” Robin Quinn says. “But it sounds suspicious to me.”

Read more at Baltimore Sun