Spike Lee Honors Michael Jackson at Annual Summer Party in Brooklyn Crowd Dances, Sings to the King of Pop's Songs
- Last Updated on Wednesday, 27 August 2014 13:59
Director Spike Lee at his annual summer get-together in Brooklyn. Kevin Hagen for The Wall Street Journal
Spike Lee rarely cracked a smile as he walked around his annual party in Brooklyn signing autographs, fist-bumping fans and throwing T-shirts into the dancing-and-singing crowd.
Mr. Lee's stone-faced hosting style appeared out of sync with the jubilant atmosphere at Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Plaza, where thousands of revelers gathered Sunday afternoon to celebrate what would have been Michael Jackson's 56th birthday.
Paying Tribute to Michael Jackson in Brooklyn
At the party, titled "Brooklyn Loves MJ," Jackson's iconic music boomed for blocks around. In the neighborhood, passersby danced while carrying groceries. Residents of the apartments overlooking the plaza nodded their heads to the beat as they surveyed the scene from their balconies.
Mr. Lee strode through the crowd wearing an orange velveteen fedora (provided by Party City, which outfitted hundreds in free fedoras) and Nike Air Force One sneakers emblazoned with images of Jackson from the "Thriller" era. The sneakers said "Thriller" on the back.
In the early afternoon, Lionel Powell, a 54-year-old man dressed as a tree, caught the attention of many as he danced through the crowd on 10-foot-tall stilts that looked like tree trunks. He crouched on his stilts to speak and to be photographed, and once, when he stood back up, he stretched his arms out, blocking the sun for a moment.
"I'm givin' you a little shade," Mr. Powell said with a laugh.
Gritty James shows off his Michael Jackson moves at Mr. Lee's party, which honored the late pop icon. Kevin Hagen for The Wall Street Journal
Mr. Powell didn't charge passersby for taking photos with him, but plenty of others at the event were interested in making money. People sold Michael Jackson T-shirts, holistic health and beauty products, jerk chicken and fruity beverages.
A 44-year-old man who referred to himself as "The Strange One" sang along to the music while selling what he called "nutcrackers," small bottles of liquor mixed with brightly colored fruit-flavored juices. He charged $5 a bottle.
"I do Grey Goose, tequila, Ciroc and tropical juice. I combine them and thus I've got a nutcracker," he said, holding a handful of bottles and grinning. "If there's a really good DJ and he's playing really good music, it hypnotizes people to where they feel like they have to buy my nutcrackers. It's great for my business."
In the crowd, Mr. Lee may have been the only person without a smile. Police officers bobbed their heads as they patrolled. Maintenance workers sang as they picked up litter. Two emergency medical technicians attempted to learn Jackson's moonwalk.
"We're on duty," said one of the medical technicians, "but when 'Thriller' comes on, you can't just stand there."
Source: Wall Street Journal/MJackson.com
MICHAEL JACKSON'S 'A PLACE WITH NO NAME' MUSIC VIDEO TO PREMIERE WORLDWIDE EXCLUSIVELY ON TWITTER @MICHAELJACKSON AUGUST 13
- Last Updated on Tuesday, 12 August 2014 16:07
Epic Records and The Estate of Michael Jackson, announced today that “A Place With No Name,” the next single from this year’s critically acclaimed, chart-topping Michael Jackson album XSCAPE [MJJ Music/Epic Records], will make history when it premieres on Twitter (twitter.com). At 10:00 p.m. on Wednesday August 13, 2014 the short film will be tweeted through @MichaelJackson allowing the Twitter universe to be able to view the video within a tweet.
Michael Jackson's Neverland Is About To Be Sold
- Last Updated on Thursday, 31 July 2014 13:03
Though Michael Jackson moved out of Neverland years before his untimely passing, the 2,700-acre property remains indelibly associated with the King of Pop to this day. Soon, however, the connection will be only in thought, not deed: Neverland is set to be sold.
According to sources familiar with the matter, billionaire Tom Barrack’s Colony Capital is preparing to put the Los Olivos, Calif. property on the market. The firm became Neverland’s managing partner after Barrack struck a deal with Jackson in late 2007 to take over the $23 million note held by private equity fund Fortress.
“We are frustrated, bitterly disappointed and saddened that it has come to this,” said a representative for Jackson’s estate in an electronic message to FORBES. “Sadly, Michael lost control of Neverland during his life as a result of advice from a former manager.”
Representatives for Colony Capital could not immediately be reached for comment.
As I reported in Michael Jackson, Inc: The Rise, Fall and Rebirth of a Billion-Dollar Empire , the agreement between Jackson and Colony was a complex one. Barrack himself said he only took on the note as a favor to Jackson (in an interview for the book, he recalled his words to the singer: “Don’t have me do this … unless you’re really interested in building a program going forward to create some revenue for yourself.”)
The agreement, which took effect in early 2008, called for Colony to manage Neverland as a sort of joint venture with Jackson. For every dollar the company invested in the property, its equity would increase. This meant that while Jackson—and, later, his estate—retained a stake in the property, it decreased on paper as time went on.
Over the past six years, Colony has continued to fund the upkeep of Neverland. That cost, if it’s anything like it was in Jackson’s day, is likely in the neighborhood of $5 million per year. Add in the $23 million note, and back-of-the-envelope math suggests the firm may have invested more than $50 million in the property to date. It also retains the right to sell the property at will.
Still, many options were explored over the years. Toward the end of his life, Jackson himself is said to have been intrigued by the idea of turning Neverland into a school for the performing arts; after his death, many have suggested that the property be turned into an attraction like Elvis Presley’s Graceland.
But as anyone who’s been to Neverland (this writer included) can tell you, Los Olivos isn’t exactly Memphis. The area is nowhere near an interstate, and its narrow mountain roads aren’t conducive to accommodating hundreds of thousands of visitors a year.
“The Estate explored numerous options, including a purchase,” continued the aforementioned representative’s statement. “But financial, land use and zoning restrictions have made all of the proposed options prohibitive given our duty as Executors to be fiscally responsible in protecting and growing the assets of the Estate for Michael’s children.”
Indeed, Jackson’s estate has pulled in more than three quarters of a billion dollars in a little over five years since his death. But that’s before taxes and expenses, not to mention the specter of a $702 million IRS bill that the estate is currently appealing.
Buying back Colony’s share of Neverland—not to mention footing a multimillion-dollar annual upkeep bill for a property that does not generate income—would seem to be an imprudent financial choice.
And so, Neverland may soon have a new owner on paper. But any buyer will have to understand the property will always be the King of Pop’s realm in the minds of millions.
For more about the business of the King of Pop, check out my new book Michael Jackson, Inc. You can follow me on Twitter & Facebook.