Working With Michael

I had the pleasure of working with Michael several times over the years. The clips below go back to 1979.

The 1995 MTV Video Music Awards

The consummate professional. Nothing was too much trouble for him in rehearsal – whatever it took to get it right for all concerned. During a break in rehearsal he and I sat up in a box in Radio City reviewing the camera coverage and I realized that he kept looking at my tee-shirt. He said, “Oh I love that show”. The tee-shirt was from Nickelodeon’s Roundhouse (a sketch comedy show with music and dance). “I have all the episodes but I haven’t got the tee-shirt”. I said, “Don’t worry, we’ll get you one” and I had a production asst. call Nickelodeon for me and request a tee-shirt for Michael. Within the hour, a complete Roundhouse gift bag arrived at the theater — caps, signed cast photos, tee-shirts etc. Needless to say Michael was thrilled. I love the bit in this performance with Michael, the smoke, the wind machine and Slash upstaging Michael…which was Michael’s idea. He thought it was hysterical to have one of his guys come out and attempt to drag Slash off.


The Michael Jackson 30th Anniversary Special, 2001

If you are MJ and you are going to work with a guest star, it might as well be Britney Spears. When this show was in its formative stages, I was asked to meet Michael on a Saturday morning at the Universal Sheraton. When I went to his room, it was dark, drapes drawn, cartoons playing on the TV. Michael and his young son Prince were playing on the floor with toy cars. Prince’s hair was bleached platinum blonde with a dark part. I took all this in asked if we could open the drapes a bit, Michael said “Yes, we are finished with the cartoons, anyway”. I guess it’s all in a day’s work. We had a great meeting. Michael as always worked incredibly hard on his performance. It’s the last time he performed with his brothers and the last great Michael Jackson performance that I’ve seen recorded. This show was the end of two eras — we taped it on September 10, 2001.


Rock with You and She’s Out of My Life – Music Videos 1979

Back in 1979, post Jackson 5 and pre superstardom, Michael launched his solo career with the singles “Rock with You” and “She’s Out of My Life”. At my first meeting with him, he was so shy, polite and professional. Not sure that his label CBS Records was very optimistic about his chances because the budget they gave me for these two music videos was so low, all I could afford was one laser, and a stool for him to sit on – one prop per video. So for “She’s Out of My Life” I decided to let the studio go to darkness, Jerry Watson lit him beautifully in simple white backlight and the we depended on Michael to carry the moment —- which he did. For “Rock with You” we pulled out our big trick – the Hollywood Mach 1 laser !, Michael got his glitter on – love the boots—and a disco classic was born.