June 30, 2009

Time Capsule: Michael Jackson in the news

Posted: 06:02 PM ET

thumbnailIn June of 1983, the top 5 albums in the United States were:

1. Thriller, Michael Jackson (Epic)

2. Flashdance, Irene Cara (Casablanca)

3. Pyromania, Def Leppard (Mercury)

4. Let's Dance, David Bowie (EMI America)

5. Cargo, Men at Work (Columbia)

And here are a few articles that we read then, not knowing how interesting they'd be today.


Tom Shales' article from January, 1977's Washington Post.  It's a not-too-positive review of the Jackson Family variety show.

By Tom Shales

art_jacksons_giNo one could reasonably have expected "The Brady Bunch Variety Hour," which premiered Sunday on ABC, to be anything finer than insipid. Even in television, it makes no sense to build a musical show around nonmusical people.

That would scarcely seem to be the problem for "The Jacksons," the new CBS half-hour musical-variety series premiering tonight at 8:30 on Channel 9. And yet despite the proven pop prowess of the group – which has sold 60 million records first as the Jackson Five, now as the Jacksons – the hastily arranged show proves listless and slipshod.

Perhaps it will get better. There doesn't seem to be much choice.

Part of the problem for producer-director Bill Davis and the talented Jackson family is that this is a short-notice series, hurriedly thrown together when Norman Learn's "A Year at the Top" fell apart and was scrubbed on the launch pad. Still, one would think that five Hollywood writers would be able to come up with better comedy material to fill the gaps between numbers than the staff handed the Jacksons. By comparison, the Captain and Tennille are hilarious and Sonny and Cher positively Shavian.

Somehow, though, even the songs, which include the recent hit "Enjoy Yourself," don't really register either, partly because canned audience hysteria has been ladled over them and partly because the Jackson seem a bit surprised at being on television, even after three previous attempts.

One of those was a well-received CBS summer series last year. Another was an animated version still in syndication. Sadly, the real-life Jacksons on CBS tonight come off just about as dimensional as their cartoon counterparts did. "It's been great fun," says Michael Jackson, 17, at the show's close, but he could only be speaking for himself. "The Jacksons' have a long way to go before it is either an approximation of fun or an intimation of great.


The Jackson Decade;
The Jacksons: Shaking, And Making, Booty;
Still Shaking – and Making – Their Booty

By Jacqueline Trescott/Washington Post

June 11, 1979

Michael Jackson, now 20, an elongated version of the cute, spindly youngster who fingerpopped into teen hearts 10 years ago, knows what he wants for the next

"To do everything I feel I should do," says Jackson, his trademark airy pitch unchanged. His dark eyes are direct, making no excuses for that goal. "Really, more music, films, everything. I want to go all the way." His smile grows into grin, testing the boundaries of a cresent fact that, up close, is small and sandpapery. His answers are the quick, flippant retorts of any 20-year-old, their tone mixed with the blase worldliness of someone who has spent half his life in the limelight.

Dressed in brown slacks and print shirt with a gray cavalry hat perched on a wayward Afro, Jackson leans back onto the bedpost. His brother, Marlon, 22, one of the original five who started out as the Jackson Five in 1969 and renamed themselves the Jacksons three year ago, joins the conversation. Three hours before the group will bring 20,000-plus fans to their feet, on a night when a reported 5,000 were turned away, Michael and Marlon are totally relaxed. In fact, they are cutting up like the Smothers Brothers.

"What! There aren't any girls downstairs," mocks Marlon, camouflaged behind sunglasses and a worn cream-colored jogging suit. From the corner, one of the managers announces that the lobby of the Sheraton Lanham Motor Inn was packed earlier in the day. "Well I guess they'd expect us to be at the Regency, or the 'Gate," says Michael (who is given to abbreviations: 'Gate for Watergate Hotel, 'tics for politics, 'Town for Motown Records, their first label).

Ten years ago, the Jacksons were all terribly green, painfully shy, leaving all the declarations to their father, Joseph Jackson. What they offered to the music scene were five blemishfree faces, heart-throbbing in their close-cut hair, chino pants and matching sports jackets. Out of Gary, Ind., they marketed bubble-gum soul, which brought them adulation and riches. But, even then, when they spoke, they were coy: their sound, explained one back then, "is a secret; too many people might find out and start doing it."

Now, with their youth no longer a salable part of the act (Randy, the youngest, is 16), the Jacksons have to compete with established male acts like the O'Jays and Commodores. "We have to strive to set trends, instead of following them," says Michael. They are succeeding. Their latest album, "Destiny" is certified platinum and has birthed two top 10 singles.

Yet 10 years has produced some changes. Chinos have been replaced by coordinated gold lame stitched into a medieval-futuristic combination. The screams have cultivated layers, from those whose years are marked by Jacksons' pin-ups and from a younger generation that can't be called bubble-gum, though that's its age and beat. In personnel, there have been alterations – one brother, Randy, substituting for another, Jermaine, who remained with Motown when the rest switched to CBS Epic Records.

But what has remained constant is the dominance of Michael Jackson. His career has gone further, expanding to movies with the role of the Scarecrow in "The Wiz," and joining the gossip mystique, escorting Tatum O'Neal. On stage Michael's dancing is an impeccable sample of disco and acrobatics, stylishly flamboyant and patterned. The packaging has killed the spontaneity but, nevertheless, three women were carried over the rails in dead faints during Michael's solos Saturday night.

"In Charlotte, it was a little unreal because they carried the girls out in stretchers across the stage," says Michael. That was Friday night, and a day later, he sounded slightly stunned. Marlon explains that they never get used to the screams, and Michael elaborates, "it honestly feels fresh each time."


September 19, 1983

By JEFF WILSON, United Press InternationalMiko-Brando-&-Jackson
"It appears singer Michael Jackson will continue to be one of the big trend-setters in music videos. Jackson is negotiating with film director John Landis, whose credits include "Animal House," "Trading Places" and an ill-fated "Twilight Zone" segment, to make a $500,000 video of Jackson's "Thriller." The video would be an extended, 10-minute clip of the title track to Jackson's recent album. It is not clear how the video will be used but Billboard magazine says discussions include showing "Thriller" in theaters, on network television or cable TV."

Filed under: Larry King Live • Michael Jackson

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IMPACT YOUR WORLD: "We Are the World"

Posted: 04:34 PM ET

Tonight, our "Impact Your World" segment will focus on "USA for Africa."  The organization was founded in 1985, and was the beneficiary of the song, "We Are the World," written by Michael Jackson.  Harry Belafonte, Inspirational Founder of USA for Africa, explains the organization's mission below.

Editor's Note: "We Are the World" is currently #70 on iTunes most downloaded songs.

When dramatically faced with tragedy or injustice, people respond in unprecedented ways. They are galvanized to action or compelled to respond in someway. This is why people keep trying to improve the world. Harry-Belafonte

People have demonstrated this in situations throughout history both large and small, be it neighbor helping neighbor during the Depression, or when famine and other natural disasters such as the Tsunami or Katrina happens.

I discovered some time ago that being in the struggle for freedom, to fight against injustice or to end poverty is not a part time job, nor can it be treated as a hobby. I have strongly believed in the importance of artists recognizing their potential role in effecting social change. Public figures have always used their status to help others, by using their public visibility and drawing power to spotlight serious problems where ever they may exist.

Here in America, right in our own backyard, we witness the tragedy of hunger and homelessness. In the world's wealthiest country, millions of women, children and men lack the most basic human needs.

I would like not to be political, but I see no way for the issues of famine, hunger and the lack of adequate medical care for all people of the world to be settled, other than politically. But before any action can be taken, we each must on a global scale, make a commitment that all people have a right to be free from hunger and disease.

This requires the commitment, not only of each of us but governments along with the collective resources of industry and private enterprise to make the difference that is needed. It will also require the continuing and important involvement of artists who can use their art to send messages to audiences of millions. We now have many more artists who truly understand this power and are making their presence felt by galvanizing the public to put pressure on world leaders along with them, so that there can then exist a world where all of humanity can fulfill its potential for good.

To learn more about "USA for Africa," CLICK HERE.

To learn more about "Impact Your World," CLICK HERE.


Filed under: Impact Your World • Larry King Live • Michael Jackson

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Michael Jackson public viewing to be held Friday

Posted: 03:39 PM ET

Michael Jackson's body will return to his Neverland Ranch on Thursday morning for a public viewing Friday, CNN has learned.

A private memorial service is scheduled for Sunday.

Also, a Jackson will, written in 2002, has been found, according to family lawyer Londell McMillan.

It was not immediately clear whether Jackson's body would be interred at Neverland.

He purchased the Neverland Ranch, north of Santa Barbara, in 1987 and filled it with animals and amusement rides. He lived at the property until soon after his 2005 acquittal on child molestation charges.

He later ran into financial problems with Neverland but retained a stake in it at the time of his death June 25.

The ranch is named for the fictional world in J.M. Barrie's "Peter Pan," a favorite story of Jackson's.

The singer's hometown of Gary, Indiana, is asking the family to have him buried there, according to the mayor's spokeswoman.


Filed under: Larry King Live • Michael Jackson

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Explaining Michael Jackson's Lyrics, Understanding his Legacy

Posted: 03:36 PM ET

thumbnailby Kelefa Sanneh via The New Yorker

The news of Michael Jackson’s death arrived late on Thursday afternoon, and the great outpouring of celebrity eulogies began immediately. Steven Spielberg: “His talent, his wonderment, and his mystery make him legend.” Beyoncé: “He was magic.” John Mayer: “I truly hope he is memorialized as the ’83 moonwalking, MTV-owning, mesmerizing, unstoppable, invincible Michael Jackson.” And, from France, a gracious statement came from Manu Dibango, the seventy-five-year-old African pop pioneer. He mourned the loss of “un artiste exceptionnel, le plus talentueux et ingénieux” (no translation necessary).

Dibango was one of countless people whose lives were changed by Jackson’s music, although in Dibango’s case the changing was mutual. He was born and reared in Cameroon, and was already a local favorite when he recorded a song for the Cameroon soccer team. The result was a 1972 single called “Mouvement Ewondo,” but it was the B side—“Soul Makossa,” a honking, galloping funk track—that was the real hit, in Africa, in Europe, and in America, where it came to be seen as one of the first disco records. A generation of disk jockeys learned to wield the power of the song’s famous introduction: a hard beat, a single guitar chord, and Dibango’s low growl. He named his song after the makossa, a Cameroonian dance, but he stretched the word out, played with it: “Ma-mako, ma-ma-ssa, mako-makossa.”

About a decade later, Dibango was in Paris, listening to the radio at his apartment, when he heard something familiar: those same syllables, more or less, in a very different context. The d.j. was playing “Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’,” the unconventional first song from “Thriller.” It is more than six minutes long, and although the music is exuberant throughout, the lyrics aren’t as silly as they first sound: paranoia (“Still they hate you, you’re a vegetable/You’re just a buffet, you’re a vegetable”) gives way to exhortation (“If you can’t feed your baby, then don’t have a baby”) and, eventually, inspiration (“I believe in me/So you believe in you”). The galloping rhythm sounds a bit like “Soul Makossa,” and near the end Jackson acknowledges the debt by singing words that many listeners mistook for nonsense: “Ma ma se, ma ma sa, ma ma coo sa.” Soon, Dibango’s phone started ringing. Friends and relatives were calling to offer their congratulations: Michael Jackson was singing his song! But Dibango’s pride turned to puzzlement when he bought the album, only to find that the song was credited to Michael Jackson and no one else.

(Read More)

Filed under: Entertainment • Larry King Live • Michael Jackson

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LKL last night – we talked with director of "Thriller" video

Posted: 10:23 AM ET

Here's a clip of last night's LKL – we had John Landis, the director of Michael Jackson's "Thriller" video on the show:

Filed under: Larry King Live • Michael Jackson

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Jackson ticket holders offered refund or souvenir

Posted: 08:33 AM ET

Michael Jackson fans who purchased tickets for his final concerts will receive a full refund or, if they chose, a commemorative ticket, the concert promoter said Tuesday.

"The world lost a kind soul who just happened to be the greatest entertainer the world has ever known," said Randy Phillips, president and chief executive officer of AEG Live.

"Since he loved his fans in life, it is incumbent upon us to treat them with the same reverence and respect after his death."

Fifty sold-out Jackson concerts were scheduled for the O2 Arena in London, starting July 13, with admission costing at least $105. The shows were billed as the final concerts of his career and were called "This Is It."

Fans who decide they would rather have a souvenir will receive a ticket conceived by Jackson. There are eight designs that include holographic images of the entertainer on the front.

Images of the tickets will be available on in coming days, according to the promoter.

Refunds will be processed by the issuing ticketing agencies - See, Ticketline, Ticketmaster and Viagogo.


Filed under: Entertainment • Michael Jackson

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Fawcett's son freed long enough to attend her funeral

Posted: 07:28 AM ET

Redmond O'Neal will be temporarily freed from jail to attend the funeral of his mother, actress Farrah Fawcett, on Tuesday, officials said.

Fawcett, the blonde-maned actress whose best-selling poster and "Charlie's Angels" stardom made her one of the most famous faces in the world, died Thursday. She was 62, and had battled anal cancer off and on for three years.

O'Neal was arrested in September when deputies found methamphetamine during a probation search at the Malibu, California, home of his father, actor Ryan O'Neal. The younger O'Neal was on probation for a 2008 felony drug conviction involving heroine and meth.

Monday's court order will allow Redmond O'Neal out of jail for up to three hours for the funeral. A sheriff's deputy is to accompany him at all times, according to the order, issued in Los Angeles County Superior Court.

O'Neal, 24, will be allowed to wear civilian clothes for the funeral.

He is undergoing what the sheriff's department has called an "intense drug rehabilitation program" in the L.A. County jail.

Filed under: Farrah Fawcett

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June 29, 2009

No One Who Was Normal Ever Made History: A Tribute to Michael Jackson

Posted: 08:51 PM ET

James Arthur Ray Personal Success Strategist; New York Times Best-Selling Author

t1home_michael_jackson_05_giI was shocked! And I'm sure you were too, hearing about Michael Jackson's death. But the more I thought about it...there were, unfortunately, too many warning signs for any one of us to really be that shocked.

Almost immediately, the news began recounting the many controversies of his turbulent life. Michael changed the world of music as much if not more than any other performer - that point is not in contention. Despite the many dramas and accusations lobbied against him over the years (most significantly regarding his relationship with young boys) and even in the midst of what had been disappointing music sales, Michael Jackson never lost his title of the "King of Pop."

I remember watching the video for "Thriller" in utter amazement when it was released on MTV back in 1993. Never before had there been anything even close to this mini-movie in terms of style and talent. As hard as I tried, I never could figure out how to do that darn moonwalk.

Very few people could understand Michael's enigmatic life, and I'm not suggesting that I'm unique in that regard. However, as a student of history, what I do understand is that Michael's life, when considered within the broader scope of highly creative people throughout history, was not really that unusual after all.

(Read More)

Filed under: Larry King Live • Michael Jackson

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LKL WEB EXCLUSIVE: Michael Jackson's Friend and Marlon Brando's Son on the Michael Jackson He Knew

Posted: 06:19 PM ET

Miko Brando, son of actor Marlon Brando, has been friends with Michael Jackson for over 25 years.  Miko will be a guest on LKL tonight.  Miko's commentary is an LKL Web Exclusive.Miko-Brando-&-Jackson

Michael was my idol.  He's been my father figure since my father died.  It's strange living without him.  I will never be the same, and I don't know if I'll ever get over this loss.  It's like losing your companion, someone you always thought would be there.  It's just not right.  He meant a lot to me.  I feel like a different person than I was before Thursday.  I feel numb - lost.  He was a good friend for so many years.

I treasure the time I spent with Michael.  We'd go shopping together, go to Disneyland, take trips, spend time at Dad's house.  He'd just come over and set up camp at my dad's house for a while.  I enjoyed talking about music, eating together and having fun with Michael.  We were just good friends, that's the best way I can put it.  He was always there for me when I needed him, and I'd like to think I was always there for him.

I don't really have a single memory of Michael that sticks out.  It's hard to do when you've been friends as long as we have.  My best memories are of the time we spent talking, him hugging me, having good conversations, and making him laugh - I really enjoyed making him laugh.  I could say some things - just a few words in his ear, and I could get a laugh out of him.  And boy, did he have an infectious laugh.

Above all, Michael was a very caring person.  He had a lot of love in his heart.  He cared about everybody, especially the people on the street.  He wasn't stuck up - he had no ego, and he tried to make time for everybody because he didn't want to hurt anyone's feelings.  If he thought he did something wrong, it would really bother him.  He had more love than anyone I know.

The Michael I saw everyday was one that loved his kids.  They were his main focus.  He was a very busy man, but he always made sure the kids were being looked after.

What a lot of people may not realize about Michael, is how good a businessman he was.  The tour he was planning is a perfect example.  He was a perfectionist, and he knew exactly what he wanted and how to get it.  Everything regarding the tour had to be approved by Michael.  Just because he hasn't been on TV or out in public a lot recently,  that doesn't mean he wasn't busy and active.  A lot of people have speculated he was really stressed over the tour, but I don't think he was.  He went through the same routines he did for past tours.

I've thought about whether there were any similarities between Michael and my dad, and I cannot think of a single one.  You've heard opposites attract?  I think that explains their friendship.  They had absolutely nothing in common, but when you got them together, you couldn't tear them apart.  He loved my dad, and they spent many days together at Dad's house and at Neverland.  They were very close.

Michael was instrumental helping my father through the last few years of his life.  For that I will always be indebted to him.  Dad had a hard time breathing in his final days, and he was on oxygen much of the time.  He loved the outdoors, so Michael would invite him over to Neverland.  Dad could name all the trees there, and the flowers, but being on oxygen it was hard for him to get around and see them all, it's such a big place.  So Michael got Dad a golf cart with a portable oxygen tank so he could go around and enjoy Neverland.  They'd just drive around - Michael Jackson, Marlon Brando, with an oxygen tank in a golf cart.

Some of the best times I spent with Michael were just sitting on a bench at Disneyland's "Main Street."  We would just sit there and people watch.  Sometimes Michael would be in a getup so people wouldn't recognize him - but they always did.  When he was in a bad mood or a little down, I'd just say "Michael, the bench,"  and that would bring him out of it.  If I knew he wanted to have fun, or just get away, I'd say "let's go to the bench," and we were gone.

Of course, Michael Jackson in a public place like Disneyland was bound to draw crowds, and sometimes we would have park security with us.  But they weren't there to protect Michael, they were there to protect the crowds.  He was never really concerned about himself, but that someone would get hurt in the crush of people that wanted to see him.  People would just go crazy when they saw Michael Jackson.

Michael rarely cried, but I think he'd be in tears over the reaction to his death.  He'd be overwhelmed and happy that so much of the love he gave was returned by the people he loved.  I think he'd take a deep breath and just say thank you.

The family is still planning the funeral, but I think Michael would want it to be a celebration.  He would want everybody there.  He loved his fans.  I've been around plenty of big movie stars, but Michael's fans are beyond fans.  He knew the fans were what made him, and he wouldn't want to leave anyone out.  Everywhere he went, fans would be there.  He'd tell me the fans always knew what he was doing.  I don't think anyone has ever had fans like that.  So Michael would want a funeral that included his fans and made them happy.  He would want it to say: "I'm still with you and we'll always be together."  He was happy, and he wanted to make everybody around him happy.  Finally, he would want love.  Above all, Michael was about love.

Filed under: LKL Web Exclusive • Michael Jackson

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A look back at Michael Jackson's legacy

Posted: 12:10 PM ET
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