Recalling Michael Jackson's final steps

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Recalling Michael Jackson's final steps

Post by Human_nature on Wed Oct 21, 2009 12:55 am

Link : http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/news/music/la-et-jackson19-2009oct19,0,3751825.story

With the documentary 'This Is It' due out soon, some who worked with Michael Jackson recall his final days.






MOVING: Choreographer Travis Payne, who had worked with Michael Jackson for years, is in step with some of the star's backup dancers.

(Nancy Pastor)




Short of someone inventing Smell-o-Vision before Oct. 28's global
rollout of the feature documentary "Michael Jackson's This Is It," fans
will never get to know one of the most visceral aspects of working with
the King of Pop. ¶ "He had this amazing fragrance," said Mekia Cox, one
of 11 backup dancers who worked with Jackson between April and June on
"This Is It," his series of 50 sold-out concerts scheduled to start
taking place at London's O2 Arena over the summer. The shows would have
marked the superstar's return to performing after a 12-year touring
absence. ¶ Another dancer, Daniel Celebre, referred to Jackson's
singular musk as "the love potion," recalling its ability to trigger an
almost Pavlovian response in those downwind. "No matter what you're
doing, as soon as you smell that smell, boom! You have to get more
focused," Celebre recalled. "Because he needs to know we're having that
love. And throwing the love around." ¶ It's not uncommon for those who
worked with Jackson in his final months to speak about the entertainer
in emotionally overheated terms. Several close collaborators on what
was being touted as Jackson's final tour -- a concert extravaganza that
could have resurrected his finances, reestablished his cultural
relevancy and spread messages of global interconnectivity, love and
environmentalism -- seem to have gotten swept up in his grandiose
vision. It's one that would have involved elaborate aerial dance
numbers, the world's largest three-dimensional LCD screen, pyrotechnic
illusions, 12 original short films and even the presence of a bulldozer
and a children's choir onstage. ¶ With the release of "Michael
Jackson's This Is It" next week for a limited two-week theatrical
engagement, his fans and doubters alike can see a nearly actualized
version of that vision for themselves. To hear it from those who worked
on "This Is It," the film will provide new insight into the private
Jackson that few outside his inner circle ever see.

"Michael was a new Michael," said "This Is It" concert director Kenny
Ortega, who also directed the film. "He was 12 years a dad, a
businessman, an entertainer's entertainer. That wonderful, innocent
part of Michael was ever present, but there was another Michael there
with more worldly concerns. He had deeper reasons for wanting to do
this than I've ever seen for him to want to do anything else before."

Consisting of digital video footage shot in rehearsals during the weeks
before the production moved to London for final run-throughs, the movie
also will throw Jackson's physical and mental bearing into stark relief
-- at a time when many are still struggling to understand the
circumstances surrounding his death. Jackson, 50, died of acute
intoxication by the anesthetic propofol on June 25, and according to
his autopsy, he also had been taking a laundry list of sedatives,
anti-anxiety medications and painkillers.

Some people who worked with the entertainer daily, however, insist there were no outward signs of his drug dependence.

"He was on a whole new level," said backup dancer Dres Reid. "When you
saw Mike, it was a different Michael. He had a swagger about him."

Ortega directed the singer's "HIStory" and "Dangerous" tours in the
'90s and is the force behind the "High School Musical" franchise and
the "Hannah Montana/Miley Cyrus: Best of Both Worlds Concert Tour." The
director had been in talks with Jackson for more than two years about
mounting some kind of performance. Yet Jackson had held out for a
"substantial reason" to return to performing, Ortega said.

In March, Jackson called Ortega with news that he had signed to mount a series of concerts with promoter AEG Live.

"He started saying, 'Kenny, my kids are so fascinated with what I've
been doing my whole life, they're like super-fans. So I want to share
with my children now that they're old enough to appreciate it and I'm
still young enough to do it,' " Ortega recalled.

The superstar intended his concerts as payback to fans and a platform
to broadcast his concerns. "The messages in my songs, the ones I wrote
10 years ago, are more meaningful today," Ortega quoted Jackson as
saying.

Associate director Travis Payne, a choreographer who had worked with
Jackson on world tours and music videos since the early '90s, said:
"This was to be the biggest platform possible for him to refamiliarize
the messages that had been in his music and films for years. . . .
Michael was going to remind everyone of the job we have to complete
with regard to reversing our damage to the planet."

Although the pop icon was about $400 million in debt heading into "This
Is It," Ortega insists their conversations never broached Jackson's
financial predicament. Nor, despite Jackson's long absence from the
world's stages, did the word "comeback" factor into their discussions.

"One time, I said to Michael, 'You're going to get your crown back. I
can't wait,' " Ortega said. "Michael just giggled at me. 'God bless
you, Kenny. You're so funny.' He just didn't think that way."

"Michael Jackson's This Is It" will showcase a dimension of the
performer that falls well outside the prevailing images of one of the
most photographed men of the last half-century. Whether your notion of
Jackson is as the surgical mask-wearing eccentric who was acquitted in
a 2005 criminal trial on child molestation charges, the guy who dangled
his baby over a hotel balcony, or the man who moonwalked across the
stage during his epochal 1983 "Motown 25" performance and urged the
world to "look at yourself to make a change" -- the movie presents a
competing notion of the "Thriller" singer. Jackson as the boss, a
perfectionist and creative visionary who was personally invested in the
smallest details of his show.

"If he was in the middle of a dance number and something wasn't right,
he'd say, 'Stop!' Everything would come to a stop," Ortega said. "And
he'd say, 'Don't do that! Wait for me. Watch me.' And remind people
that this wasn't an automatic production. You don't just push buttons.
You watch Michael."

Cox said: "He was commanding."

"As much as he'd fire off what was on his mind at the time, he'd still
have a light gesture at the end," added fellow backup dancer Shannon
Holtzpffel. "But he'd be very direct. And we'd be like, 'Wow.' "

According to those close to him, Jackson's exacting nature took a
physical toll on him that is visible in the film. Ortega said the
singer had been losing weight and grew fatigued from missing more and
more sleep as the production's London deadline neared. Both Payne and
Ortega spoke of Jackson's penchant for rehearsing until as late as 1
a.m. and then calling them around 4 to brainstorm new ideas.

"He didn't sleep a lot," said Ortega, who like many others interviewed
by The Times said he had no idea that Jackson had a drug dependency.
"He had been losing weight and didn't like to eat much when he was in
my company. It was always, 'I'm dancing. I don't want to eat.'

"I discussed it with him, with his doctor, with his team. I was really
concerned about Michael getting the proper rest, the proper
nourishment. We were told -- and Michael assured me -- that he was in
good health," he said.

Payne, who had gotten to know the singer's professional M.O. working
with Jackson on his "Dangerous" and "HIStory" tours, made sure to have
Boost meal replacement shakes, Orangina and Martinelli's apple cider on
hand to keep Jackson replenished.

"He'd go for periods of time without eating or sleeping because he was so immersed in what we were doing," Payne said.

Nonetheless, Ortega remains resolute that "This Is It" was nothing but
a "nourishing" experience for the entertainer, not the cause of his
demise. And that for Jackson fans -- for that matter, anyone curious
about Jackson's final days -- the movie can still offer a meaningful
interface with the King of Pop.

"The movie is dedicated to Michael's fans and his children," said
Ortega. "But he's so alive and present in this movie, when we were in
the editing room, there were times I'd forgotten he was no longer with
us. . . . He's so big, so engaging. He draws you in. And I think there
is a fascination that will go beyond the fans."
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Re: Recalling Michael Jackson's final steps

Post by Jubilee on Wed Oct 21, 2009 1:22 am

Hey, where did u get this info from... to be honest I'm convinced that this report is true, it sounds just like Michael. Obviously apart from the whole drug dependance etc. But the fact that he immersed himself into his work and skipped meals etc. You can clearly see in the footage that he was pretty skinny at the time and not suprisingly it could have taken it's toll on him. Just hope he is getting all his strength back now and putting the beef back on Smile xxxx
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Re: Recalling Michael Jackson's final steps

Post by NYMoonwalker on Wed Oct 21, 2009 1:26 am

I believe this too. It sounds like him. He always said how much touring stressed him & how much weight he lost during concerts.

Btw, Larry King's wife, Shawn, just tweeted this. I'm not sure if it means anything and I didn't want to start another forum for it but I felt like sharing anyway :

shawnieora Just got off the phone with La Toya Jackson. We talked for over an hour, all I can say is: Sometimes God works in not so mysterious ways 8 minutes ago from Echofon
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Re: Recalling Michael Jackson's final steps

Post by EarthAngel90 on Wed Oct 21, 2009 1:46 am

this is a wonderful story - I love it ... but sounds like he is really gone , but I got remember is still with us ! hearing about him not eating & being too focused in his dancing kinda scared me in a way ... was he really not eating (if they were really his friends - they would made him eat no matter what !)- I don't think he was on something , someone who was dancing a lot from what I am hearing can't move being "doped" up like that ... IDK .... this story is very contridicting in many ways ...
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Re: Recalling Michael Jackson's final steps

Post by ILuvUMoreMJ on Wed Oct 21, 2009 1:54 am

Thanks for posting the article. I tend to believe it too. Contrary to the 'This Is Not It' theories, it seems like everyone was concerned about his weight and tried to make sure he was taking care of himself, but they believed Michael when he said he was just fine. I have a feeling nobody was able to force him to do anything he didn't want to anyway. I'm more excited to see the movie now than I was before because all the footage looks like he was in complete control and in good form.

Interesting tweet from Latoya...I wonder what she means? Suspect
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Re: Recalling Michael Jackson's final steps

Post by Jubilee on Wed Oct 21, 2009 2:08 am

EarthAngel90 wrote:this is a wonderful story - I love it ... but sounds like he is really gone , but I got remember is still with us ! hearing about him not eating & being too focused in his dancing kinda scared me in a way ... was he really not eating (if they were really his friends - they would made him eat no matter what !)- I don't think he was on something , someone who was dancing a lot from what I am hearing can't move being "doped" up like that ... IDK .... this story is very contridicting in many ways ...

Kenny did try and make sure Michael didn't skip meals, I seen footage of him during rehearsals making sure he had something to eat, always seemed to be chicken and broccoli. Was quite cute seeing him being spoon fed, I'd have gladly obliged that job. So people did care Smile xxxx
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