Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Michael Jackson On Ebony, Jet, and Vogue

 During the last quarter of 2007, the King of Pop featured on a few magazines. All for the likes of "L'uomo Vogue", "Ebony", and "Jet". In honor of "Thriller! Which launched 25 years prier. Selling over 104 million records!

.One thing shocked many. His looks have changed again! But for the better! It's been a long time since we've seen Mr. Jackson like this! No more small noses, creased cheeks, or even Papi chins or scars to worry about.

.The guys parenting skills are way better then what you saw on "Bashir's tampered account". His 5-year-old "Blanket" is well-behaved and polite. Not a peep was heard during the shoot.

.It's been years since an interview has been conducted. On November's issue of Ebony Magazine, a whole section is devoted to just that. Read below...

Michael Jackson On Ebony Magazine

On His Infamous Tittle "Wacko Jacko"

 “I don’t pay attention to that. In my opinion, it’s ignorance. It’s usually not based on fact. Every neighborhood has the guy who you don’t see, so you gossip about him. You see those stories about him, there’s the myth that he did this or he did that. People are crazy!”

The Michael Jackson We'd Come To Love

 “That Michael is probably the same Michael here. I just wanted to get certain things accomplished first. But I always had this tug in the back of my head, the things I wanted to do, to raise children, have children. I’m enjoying it very much.”

On Accomplishments

 “When you’re on top of your game, when you’re a pioneer, people come at you. … But I feel grateful, all those record-breaking things, to the biggest albums, to those #1's, I still feel grateful.”

On Today's Generation Of Music

 “I don’t think people are being as experimental and innovative enough. I know people can easily say, `Well, we don’t have the Michael Jackson budget.’ Wrong, you can be so creative with almost nothing. And that’s usually the best stuff, when you strip it down to the bare minimum and go inside yourself and invent.”

Mr. Jackson On His Comeback Album

 “I always want to do music that influences and inspires each generation. Let’s face it, who wants mortality? You want what you create to live, and I give my all in my work because I want it to live.”

Here is a compilation of shoots from all three magazines. With an interview snippet.

Ebony Interview

 Before I leave this evening, let me close with an except Ebony's November issue of 2007.

Marnie-How did you get the interview with Michael? Was it easy?

Ebony-Because of the nearly 40-year relationship between Johnson Publishing Company -- the owner of Ebony and Jet magazines in Chicago -- and the Jackson family, a relationship that began when Michael was part of the Jackson Five, we knew that, when and if Michael was ready to re-emerge back onto the world stage, who better to do it with than Ebony. We had been talking with his team in Washington, D.C. for the past eight months and Michael himself requested that it be Ebony and Jet magazines to have his first U.S. cover and interview in years.

Marnie-Will Michael Jackson do another world tour?

Ebony-Michael didn't say specifically when or if he would tour, but was hesitant about taking on another global concert series. "I don't care about long tours," he told us in the interview. He doesn't want to grow old doing concert after concert, flying from one mega-stadium to the next. "Not the way James Brown did and or Jackie Wilson did," he said in the article. "They just kept going, running, killing themselves. In my opinion, I wish[Brown] could have slowed down and relaxed and enjoyed his hard work."

Marnie-What was one of the more memorable moments during the interview?

Ebony-It was very interesting to watch him react when we played a digital video of the famous Motown 25 performance for him on my MacBook Pro, and later when he listened to and talked about an early demo version of Billie Jean on my iPhone. He was both excited to be back in the moment and equally uncomfortable talking about his performances. (And he is clearly fascinated by new technology.)

Marnie-Can he still dance as amazingly as he did before?

Ebony-For a man nearly 50, he was still incredibly limber. He showed of a few of his classic moves during the photo shoot - the leg twist/kick move in particular. Yes, he's still got it.

Marnie-When is a new CD coming out?

Ebony-Not sure. Michael told us repeatedly that he was writing every day and recording in the studio. He also says that he thinks he's got more blockbuster hits coming out(see the story for more on his writing process). Neither he nor his staff will confirm a date but we'll be on the lookout for an early 2008 new release.

Marnie-Is he very shy in person?

Ebony-No, surprisingly he was not very shy. He wasn't shrouded, masked or gloved and he answered questions directly, and at great length.

Marnie-There has been talk about his skin color. Is he the whitest person to be on the cover of Ebony?

Ebony-Not at all, the actor Carroll O'Connor was on Ebony's cover as his character, Archie Bunker in June 1972. But make no mistake, despite his unusually light skin, he has said it is due to a skin condition called Vitiligo, Michael is still 100 percent African American.

Marnie-I think America still has yet to grasp the influence and position Michael has internationally. You can ask a woman who grew up in a small community in Norway, and a woman who grew up in Africa, and they will know his name, and his music. I have some questions: Who decided on the clothing? Was it picked by the stylist, and approved by Michael Jackson beforehand? Why this particular museum? Was the location picked by Michael Jackson?

Ebony-Michael wanted to be photographed in an artistic setting and the Brooklyn Museum gladly accommodated us all. We shot in the midst of ancient and contemporary history, and it was powerful to be in that space. Regarding the wardrobe, we worked with celebrity fashion stylist Phillip Bloch to develop concepts for wardrobe and then he and his team went shopping. We really wanted him to look elegant and timeless on the cover. We found a number of looks that would achieve that and presented them to Michael. He ultimately chose what he would be happy to wear--which turned out to be far more outfits than we had time to shoot! Michael Jackson was the perfect fit for everything we put on him. It was a lot of fun to work with someone who looks great in clothes, who knows how to move his body and who understands the camera. It was magic!

Marnie-Could you give us some insights on what went into the thought process of Michael's choice of fashion accessories that complemented each outfit?

Ebony-We learned before the shoot that Michael loves jewelry, especially diamonds, more particularly diamond brooches. So Phillip and his team went diamond shopping, calling upon some of the most well known jewelers in the world. And sure enough we ended up with more than $2 million worth of jewelry at the shoot for Michael's consideration.

Marnie-Did most of the people who worked with Michael, during the interview or photo shoot feel intimated by him? How did he interact with the crew?

Ebony-What I loved the most about working with Michael Jackson is how kind he was to everyone. He was gracious to the elevator operator, the guard and the executives in the museum. He made sure to thank each person who was in ear shot when the shoot was over. He was generous and kind. Did some people feel intimidated by him? I don't know if that's the right word. More, I think some people were mesmerized. Some were pinching themselves wondering if they actually were in the presence of the King of Pop.

Marnie-Michael looks healthier and happier than he's been in years(not just in the photo shoot but in paparazzi pictures even). In your time spent with Michael, did you get a sense that he really wants to make a comeback and reinvent the music industry again? The world is awaiting his next move, but I get the feeling he doesn't even realize how much he is missed in the music scene.

Ebony-Michael certainly seemed healthy and happy-And more, content. He had a peace about him that was palpable. He seemed comfortable in his own skin. Never mind, he's got the body that any woman or man would die for! At 49 years old, he's got a slim dancer's body, evidence of consistent, disciplined exercise. So, could he make a comeback? He certainly seems strong enough. We also know that he is actively in the studio creating. He told us that he travels with a tape recorder so that whenever he gets the inspiration to make music he can capture it for later reflection. He also noted that many artists today are not reaching inside to create their own unique music. He thinks it's breakthrough time. That certainly could include a Michael Jackson breakthrough-Or should I say another one!

Marnie-Tell us about BLANKET! That little mysterious baby! How did you find the little boy? Was he a well-behaved kid? How are both father and son to each other? Do you get a real sense of how Michael is as a father to his children from what you've seen so far?

Ebony-We didn't meet Michael's two other children. His daughter, Paris, is 9 and he has another son, Michael Joseph, 10. Blanket was incredibly well-behaved while he was in our company, which is saying a lot for a 5-year-old. He is obviously very close to his dad. They walked into the fitting holding hands and only separated when both of them became at ease. Michael's parenting skills were to be commended. Without many words, with very subtle gestures he offered discipline, guidance and support. Michael also obviously wants Blanket to learn good manners, so when the Ebony team came into the room for the interview, Michael coached Blanket on the proper way to shake hands and say hello. Small things, but isn't it the small things that show the measure of one's true self?

Marnie-Are there plans for another Ebony/Jet/Michael Jackson collaboration in the near future?

Ebony-As they say, "stay tuned." We are planning one more cover, this time on our sister publication, Jet magazine, to come out in mid-December. It is a weekly magazine, so keep an eye out for it on your newsstand. We may even have some breaking news in it, too!


Next: Michael Jackson Turns 50!

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