Foreword by Stan Lerner: in general blogs about Sin City / Las Vegas should read fast and fun. This blog won’t, because Michael Jackson “This Is It” is a brilliant film born from an incredible loss to the world—the musical genius of Michael Jackson.
This story, for me, begins with a text message on my iphone that read “Michael Jackson has passed away,” which I received thirty minutes before other media sources. I decided not to break the story. It’s just not the type of blogging I personally aspire to.
After several days of friends and readers asking me to write something about the death of Michael Jackson, I acquiesced and did so. I chose to define the thru line that the media would take, given the enormous amounts of money that would inevitably be at stake. I said that the King of Pop’s personal life would be faded and his music both rediscovered and celebrated. Good business and frankly the preference of the public.
As I sat in Jerry Olivarez’s beautiful suite on the 32nd floor of the Palms Hotel’s Fantasy Tower, Michael Jackson “This Is It” was the furthest thing from my mind. Jerry is the Executive Director of PR for Brenden Theatres and I was there to discuss blogsincity business. But as things go Jerry, Joe and I began to discuss the premiere of “This Is It”, which was being held at the Brenden Theatre just off the casino in the Palms. Because this particular theatre is home base to Johnny Brenden himself it is by definition the company’s flagship. And although it had nothing to do with what I was there to discuss I accepted Jerry’ s gracious offer to attend the premiere.
The event began as anyone would expect, there was lots of press on hand to witness—Johnny Brenden presenting Joe Jackson with a star on the Brenden Theatre walk of fame. And while Johnny himself could be a Vegas reality show, which I’d gladly produce, this blog really takes a turn in a different direction—the movie.
AEG who put up the money for the “This Is It” tour and myself have butted heads on a couple of issues regarding their LA Live project in Los Angeles in the past. The fact that they sold the rehearsal footage to be used for the movie to Sony for sixty million dollars, well added to my discomfort given AEG’s claim of having no financial interest in holding a Michael Jackson funeral event at Staple’s Center. But all of that being said it’s a great thing that Kenny Ortega was given the opportunity to put the footage together into “This Is It” because it answers a lot of questions.
The media, especially Fox and CNN owe an apology to all of their viewers for getting their facts so wrong. Both reported that the tour wasn’t going to happen as promised and on Fox they stated that a choreographer hadn’t been hired and so on and so on.
What “This Is It” absolutely makes clear is that Michael Jackson and company were completely ready to put on a show, and not only a show, but what would have been the most incredible concert experience to date. Mind this fact, I’ve produced a few shows considered to have moved the bar, I’m saying this as a professional—I’ve never seen anything on the level of what Michael and Kenny were going to pull off.
Also, what “This Is It” makes absolutely clear is that Michael Jackson was at that the height of his powers. This isn’t a story that can be compared to the last years of Elvis, Michael appeared to be absolutely at the top of his game. Media asked what he still had left in the tank at 50-years-old, the movie is definitive—more than all of the great talent, which surrounded him. As he rehearsed at half speed to conserve his energy, he still was absolutely in step with dancers half his age. When he was feeling it on one occasion and decided to sing all out—he never sounded better.
Because his personal life and the tragedy of his death have been so reported on, his musical genius had faded from the front of most of our thoughts. “This Is It” changes that. As Michael tells the best musicians in the world how he wants every note played and in one routine tells Kenny that he doesn’t need to be cued—he’ll just feel it…Chilling. And at this point something else comes across, the Michael Jackson “Peter Pan” nonsense that was always being sold to the media, and I’ve always rejected as nonsense—was indeed nonsense. Michael Jackson as demonstrated in “This Is It” was in absolute control and his personality was forceful to the point of being dominant.
So as I watched this movie a sense of profound loss crept over me and my usually cheerful Vegas mood vanished. “The world and all of us who inhabit it have been deprived of something great,” I thought to myself. I thought of all of the books, movies, and shows I myself still want to give…
“Michael, well a lot of people around the world liked Michael, I just happened to be his dad,” said an emotional Joe Jackson as I spoke to Don King, whom I hadn’t seen for years. It was good to see Don, he always makes me smile. I don’t know Joe Jackson, but I’m pretty good at reading people and I can tell you this, he’s nothing like he’s portrayed in the media. Yeah, I can imagine him being pretty tough, but he wanted his kids to have a better life than he had and he saw that they had the talent so he did what he had to. I can’t imagine what it was like being poor and black in pre civil rights America. Hopefully, I’ll have a chance to spend some time with Joe while I’m in Vegas…Interviews don’t interest me all that much, but when I feel the story has been told wrong, I think it’s important to make things right.
The after party was at moon on top of the Palms Fantasy Tower—I wasn’t in the mood to party and even Maria, a girl I had sex with in a club a night earlier unexpectedly showing up and throwing her arms around my neck couldn’t shake off the effect of the movie. I’ll tell you about the sex in the club later. I tried to talk to Johnny Brenden, and I hope he doesn’t mind me saying this, but like me I think he was too moved by the film to really want to get into a discussion about it. Johnny and Michael had a close relationship.
2:00 a.m. I decided to call it an early night, I didn’t even take Maria home with me. And then as I drove up Flamingo my phone rang Jessie “James Super VIP Host” was on the line. Jessie, knows I’m sensitive so he figured I’d be in a state after the movie.
“I’m at Red Rock with Alicia we’re decorating Cherry for Halloween. Come by and have a drink or two or three or…”
“I’m on my way.”
It would have been a normal drive, but since getting bit by the zombie girl I had sex with in the bathroom at Mickie Finnz I’d been feeling weird—like I can see all of the veins in my arms and I’m cold all of the time weird.
“Come on people can’t really turn into a zombies,” I said out loud to myself.
“Sure they can,” said Howard Hughes, the ghost of whom was now sitting next to me in my car.
“Please go away. I’m okay with being a delusional writer, but this is even too bizarre for me.”
“You had sex with a zombie and now you don’t believe in ghosts?”
“I didn’t say that…Have you had sex with a zombie by the way?”
He smiled a ghoulish knowing grin. “There’s no vagina like zombie vagina.”
“Is that what happened to you?” I asked terrified.
“Don’t worry son, you can save yourself, but you have to act before it’s too late.”
“What should I do?”
“You need to seduce a married woman.”
“Oh boy, that’s not my thing.”
“And she must be a midget,” he added.
“What? I have to have sex with a married midget or I’m going to turn into a zombie.”
He nodded. And we drove the rest of the way to Red Rock in silence…I was going to need Jessie “James Super VIP Host” Gibson’s help for sure.