Friday, October 23, 2009

From A Distance, He Seems Weird, But He's Really A Nice Guy

Singer Mickey Free, who was once with the group Shalamar, was invited by Diana Ross to dinner to meet Michael Jackson. "So I had dinner with Michael , Diana, and Gene [Simmons, Diana's boyfriend then]. I was freaking out because I always wanted to meet Michael, and he was so nice. So it came time for me to go home. Diana's car had brought me there, and she said, 'Okay, I'll call the driver to come and get you.' Michael very softly said, 'Oh, that's okay, I'll take Mickey home.' "
Diana and Gene were astonished. "Are you sure you want to do this, Michael?" Diana asked, concerned. "I mean, are you sure you can handle it? Driving him home and all?"
"Yeah, I can do it, Diane," Michael said confidently.
Mickey got into Michael's Silver Shadow Rolls-Royce, and the two drove off into the night.
"This was really a big deal for him," Mickey said. "Driving me home and all."
Fifteen minutes later, they arrived at Mickey's apartment, but Michael drove around the block a few times, He finally confessed, "You know what? I can drive this thing, but I don't know how to parallel park it. Can you park this for me?"
"Heck, yeah, I can," Mickey replied.
"I rode around the block ten times trying to find a parking place so people could see me driving Michael Jackson around in this fabulous car," Mickey Free recalled. "Michael was nice. We went up to my apartment, looked at pictures. He stayed about fifteen minutes, and I walked him back to his car. He drove off. Didn't crash into anybody or anything."
Michel began to socialize away from his family. He had met Jane Fonda two years prior and visited her on the set of On Golden Pond in 1980, and stayed with her in a private cabin.
"A lot of people thought that was very strange," said publicist Sarah Holiday. "But Jane just thought that Michael was a fascinating person. She made it clear that if anyone were to ever gossip about her and Michael, that person would be in serious trouble. 'He's too delicate to handle gossip,' she would say. She had been in the business for so long, she said it was nice to talk to someone who seemed unjaded by it all."
"We were all alone there on the water, " Michael said of his night with Jane Fonda, "and we just talked, talked, talked about everything. It was the greatest education for me: she'd learn, and I'd learn, and we'd just play off of each other. We talked about all kinds of things, you name it- politics, philosophy, racism, Vietnam, acting, all kinds of things. It was magic."
Michael was intimidated, at first, by Henry Fonda, but soon the two of them struck up a friendship. The two spent two hours fishing, and talking about theater. "Yes, he's strange," Henry said of Michael. "So what?"
We just sat and talked for a long time," Michael would recall. "He was such a wise man. He gave me a lot of tips about acting, and about stardom. How he handled it, and all."
"Dad was also painfully self-conscious and shy in life. He really only felt comfortable when he was behind the mask of a character. He could liberate himself when he was being someone else. That's a lot like Michael. Michael reminds me of the walking wounded. He's an extremely fragile person. I think that just getting on with life, making contact with people, is hard enough for him, much less having to be worried about whither goes the world."
After Henry Fonda died after a bout from heart disease on August 11,1983, Michael telephoned Jane at her family's home to see if he could come by.
Michael also met Katherine Hepburn on the set of On Golden Pond, but their initial meeting did not go so well. She thought he was odd, and was suspicious of him. She shook his hand and said nice to meet you, and walked away. "She doesn't like me," Michael complained to Jane. "And she's an idol of mine. I hate it when my idols don't like me."
"What is it with him?" Katherine asked someone on the set. "First of all , why is he here? That's what I don't understand. And why does he talk like that, with that whisper? What is he trying to pull?"
"There are a lot of people she doesn't like," Michael said of Hepburn. "She'll tell you right away if she doesn't like you. When I first met her, it was a little shaky because you hear things about her. Jane filled me in. I was kind of scared."
Later that afternoon, Michael sat alone in a corner watching a rehearsal. Katherine Hepburn came from behind him and tapped him on the shoulder.
"You and I are having dinner tonight, young man," she said.
"We are? Michael gasped.
That night, Michael and Katherine had dinner and became great friends. "We call each other on the phone, and she sends me letters. She's just wonderful. I went to her house in New York and she showed me Spencer Tracy's favorite chair and his private things in his closet, his little knickknacks," Michael would recall.
Now that is cool. But can you imagine Michael Jackson and Gene Simmons having dinner, and what would they be discussing? I wish I was there. That just goes to show the interesting people who have encountered Michael in his life.
pages 268-280.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Okay Michael, For Real, What Did You Do To Yourself?

By 1981, Michael felt as though his life was out of control. The persona shown an stage is nothing like the man that lived offstage. The person he saw in the mirror was someone he did not like very much, controlled by others, and who's opinion did not matter much,but respected as an artist. He decided to concentrate on his appearance. That, he could control.
During a dance routine in 1979, Michael tripped and fell onstage, and when he hit the floor, he broke his nose. He flew back to Los Angeles and had his first rhinoplasty surgery in the spring of 1979.
The nose that we see on the cover of Michael's "Off The Wall" album, is the result. It is just a little smaller than the nose he was born with, but Michael liked it.
The doctor who performed the procedure did not do it correctly, which resulted in breathing problems, so Dr. Steven Hoeflin did the corrective surgery, and all of the surgeries done in the future.
Michael had severe problems with acne, and found through research that the type of foods that he liked to eat, mostly greasy, possibly contributed to his complexion problems. Following the lead of Jermaine, who solved his problems by becoming an vegetarian, Michael became one also. Not that he had a weight problem, but he longed for a dancer's body.
As a result of the change of diet, Michael's appearance became more streamlined, less round.His acne cleared up, and his more defined face was because of the weight loss from his vegetarian diet, not because of plastic surgery. Also, Michael was not a little boy anymore, he had matured into a young man.

Friday, October 9, 2009

I'm A Man Now, Worth Something, Don't Forget That

On August 29,1979, Michael Jackson turned twenty-one. He was known to say, "When I become twenty-one, things will be different. I really feel that being a man is doing exactly what you want to do in this life and to do it successfully and conquer a goal. That's the whole thing in life, I guess, to do what you want to do. And is it's great, to share it. To me, Walt Disney is a real man. Charlie Chaplin, a real man. Fred Astaire, a real man. Bill Robinson, a real man. Because not only have they conquered goals, how many people have they influenced. Other people looked up to them. They made paths."
Michael and Joe had some words when Michael said that he wanted more control over his career. Joe did not think that Michael would follow through with his plans. Michael set up an meeting with a new attorney, not using attorneys that Joe used, to look over his affairs and follow where his money was going.
Michael's accountant at the time, Michael Mesnick, recommended John Branca, an entertainment attorney, to Michael. Michael and Mesnick did their studying before the meeting with Branca, and were ready for any line of questions.
Michael stated that he wanted to distance himself from his family. To be independent, especially from his father. He wanted his business , publishing and record sales reviewed.
After the meeting, Michael knew he had found his man, and let him know what he wanted to accomplish, one, to be the biggest star in show business. Second, to be the wealthiest. Branca was impressed by Michael's belief in himself, and he started to feel the same . It was time to go to work.
John Branca wold become, over the next eleven years, the most influential person in Michael's career. Many of Michael's associates would say if not for Branca, Michael would not be as successful as he had become. He negotiated every every business deal for him, became a friend and adviser.
One thing that Branca did was renegotiated his contract with CBS. Branca got Michael the highest royalty rate at that time, thirty-seven percent of hundred percent of wholesale. People like Neil Diamond and Bob Dylan were making that. In addition, an agreement was made with Yetnikoff and the Jackson's legal adviser, that Michael could leave the Jacksons anytime he wanted. He didn't have to record another record with his brothers if he didn't want to. Of course, the brothers were none too happy about this arrangement.
Michael wanted to be a cover story with Rolling Stone magazine. But, according to a letter sent by publisher Jann Wenner to Michael's publicist, Norman Winter, "We would very much like to do a major piece on Michael Jackson, but feel it is not a cover story."
"I've been told over and over again that black people on the cover of magazines don't sell copies," Michael said angrily. "Just wait. Someday those magazines are going to be begging me for an interview. Maybe I'll give them one. And maybe I won't."

Thank you J.Randy Taraborrelli, MICHAEL JACKSON -The Magic and the Madness pages 233-236.