Michael Jackson's family seeks new wrongful death trial against promoter
- Last Updated on Thursday, 05 December 2013 15:29
The family of late singer Michael Jackson has filed court documents indicating they plan to seek a new trial in a wrongful death lawsuit against concert promoter AEG, after a Los Angeles jury cleared the company of liability in October.
Attorneys for Jackson's mother Katherine, 83, and his three children filed court documents in citing misconduct of the jury and insufficient evidence among the reasons for the pending request for a new trial.
The two-page court filing, which was submitted on Monday in Los Angeles County Superior Court, also cited newly discovered evidence but did not go into detail.
Katherine Jackson and the singer's three children Prince Michael, Paris and Blanket, sued AEG Live over Jackson's 2009 death at age 50 in Los Angeles from an overdose of the powerful anesthetic propofol given to the pop star by his then doctor, Conrad Murray.
The wrongful death lawsuit claimed the concert promoter had acted negligently by hiring Murray as Jackson's personal physician, but a jury concluded Murray was sufficiently qualified for his job.
The verdict came after a sensational five-month trial that offered a glimpse into the private life and final days of the "King of Pop."
At the time, her attorneys promised to consider "all options" in response to the verdict.
Murray was convicted of involuntary manslaughter in 2011 for Jackson's death and served half of his four-year sentence in a Los Angeles prison. He was released in October under a California state plan to reduce prison overcrowding.
Revealed: How Michael Jackson's Thriller video which changed the face of music 30 years ago today was nearly never made
- Last Updated on Monday, 02 December 2013 16:14
Thirty years ago to the day Michael Jackson turned the world of pop music and TV on its head with the release of the music video Thriller.
Jackson's Thriller pop music video broke records, boundaries and ascended him to title of The King Of Pop selling over 9m copies alone. It also spawned the MTV generation, setting the standard for an industry for decades to come.
But the superstar’s visionary dream to turn a five minute 12 second pop song into a 14-minute short movie almost didn’t happen, key people behind the project reveal today.
His record label first felt Thriller, the biggest selling album of all time, was not good enough and then refused to finance the video.
Jackson, along with producer Quincy Jones, studio engineer Bruce Swedien and Rod Temperton, ignored his record label, Epic Records, to forge ahead with making the promo. The label died not even plan to release Thriller as a single.
Jackson, desperate to emulate the gore and comedy of the 1981 hit An American Werewolf in London, hired its director John Landis and went to the then fledgling cable channel MTV, urging them to invest in the project.
Brave executives at the station loved the idea but couldn’t afford Michael’s $500,000 bill for the video.
But its chief Bob Pitman, under fire for not playing enough black artists, produced a 'Making Of Thriller' TV special, which he then sold worldwide to finance the full-scale production.
Battle: He cried at his bosses first reaction to the song but was determined it would make thousands
He and Michael’s marketing ploys lead to a global revolution in the music scene, with all labels demanding their acts make videos to sell their tunes.
But in 1982, just a year before the success, Jackson’s Thriller CD appeared to be ready for the bargain bins at record stores.
Legendary producer Quincy called in Swedien and Temperton, who had co-written much of Jackson’s previous album Off the Wall, to make some magic in eight weeks at Westlake Studios in LA.
Five-time Grammy winner Bruce revealed: 'They built the studio especially for Michael and us, and we did it in just eight weeks.
'It was non-stop - we would work from noon to the early hours every day. Michael was dedicated, there was and is no one who worked like him, which was good for us.
'It was a disaster. We were listening to it and saw that the bosses weren't happy. Michael was in a corner sobbing'
- studio engineer Bruce Swedien
'Before sessions he would be in early warming his voice with vocal coaches. He strove to be the best and had a work ethic like no other. He wrote the songs, lyrics and sang them.
'But we knew what we were after and that was to showcase Michael.
'We didn’t know if it would be a hit, because you never know what the public desire and what is going to happen.'
English writer Temperton, who was in 70s disco act Heatwave, penned 40 songs and presented them to Michael, Bruce and Quincy.
Bruce said: 'Michael was a perfectionist and said I want to this album to do a hundred million. He was positive that this would be better and bigger than Off the Wall.
'But the pressure was building and the record company was worried as they wanted it out for Christmas.'
After eight weeks in the studio, Michael hit rock bottom as unimpressed record chiefs blasted the album during their first play back.
Bruce, 79, said: 'It was a disaster. I told the guys it was too long. We were listening to it and saw that the bosses weren’t happy. They went nuts over it when we played it.
'At 28 minutes for one side it was too long for a vinyl disc, which was the primary release medium. In the corner of my eye I noticed Michael slip out of the control room.
'I thought "oh sh** what is going on now" and I followed him. Michael was in a corner sobbing and saying the sound wasn’t right. He was devastated. I told him, "Michael, we have got to make it shorter". All Michael cared about was results - nothing else mattered.
'We pleaded with the record company to get two more weeks. It was tremendous pressure as we didn’t just remix it down, we started from scratch and edited, orchestrated, recorded new songs and re-did the whole album in two weeks. We even took three songs out, all of which would be hits today, because Michael never wrote a bad song.
'Thriller is only second to my marriage in terms of the energy, devotion and emotion I put into something. Michael was the same.'
After they rushed through the remixed version, bosses loved the shorter version.
The album was eventually released on November 30, 1982, with strong early sales of the CD, then later bolstered by the release of the singles Billie Jean and Beat It.
However, Jackson’s sales went into overdrive after he debuted the moonwalk on US TV in front of 47m viewers at the Motown 25th Anniversary concert in March 1983.
Bruce said: 'Michael always used to dance in the studio so we knew about his moves, but he never expected that reaction. It was a new step for him and being a perfectionist that performance reshaped the way the world saw Michael and pop music entertainment.
'Fred Astaire was right when he said Michael was the greatest dancer of the century.'
'The record company paid for Billie Jean and Beat It, but they wouldn't pay for Thriller. We paid for it'
- then-head of MTV, Bob Pittnam
As Jackson's moves beamed around the world Epic execs were happy to let the album sell strongly.
But he wanted to push the envelope by delivering something the world had never seen - a music movie for a pop single.
Bruce continued: 'Michael always wanted to make movies really as well as record records. Michael wanted to make a video that was a complete story, like a mini-movie… and that is what he did. Thriller was the perfect vehicle for that.'
Epic didn’t share his dreams. Happy with the sales and success and expensive promotion of Billie Jean and Beat It videos, refused to give him the cash to fund the project.
He turned to MTV and its boss Bob Pittnam, now president of Clear Channel Communications. He explained: 'The record company paid for Billie Jean and Beat It, but they wouldn’t pay for Thriller and the only way that it would be made is if we paid for it.
'But it would have been a terrible precedent for us to start paying for the production. So what we did was pay for the making of Thriller, sold that and the money was then used to pay for Thriller.
'Technically we didn’t pay for the production of the video, but the money we gave was used for the video and that was the way for it to be made. We were accustomed to what Michael could do, but he blew it out.
'That was a level we had never seen on a music video before and it was the level of drama associated with song. It was the video we couldn’t wait to show everybody.
'It was wildly entertaining and Michael Jackson at his best.'
Michael had tapped up Hollywood director Landis, famous for hits like The Blues Brothers and Trading Places, to oversee the movie.
Bruce was asked to extend the five-minute album track by nine minutes to accompany the dance moves.
Legacy: The song and dance were featured in Jackson's VMA performance in 1995 (pictured)
Pittnam went on: 'Michael loved American Werewolf in London, but wanted to mix pop and film genres to make something more elaborate. He was always saying "It’s got to be the best".
'Michael recorded the vocals in the dark for Thriller, which is quite scary. Music is the only true magic in life. I used his vision too.
'Afterwards, Michael and Quincy just left me for a few days to get the business done. They left me to my own devices for days with a note on the console saying "Call when we should come back" with some pictures drawn by Michael.
'We were hustlers, with Michael trying to change the way the world thought about music. It was a new concept and the record label and others didn’t understand what we were doing.
'The record labels don’t know their ass from their elbows. But we just took the ball and ran with it.
'We didn’t know it was going to turn into this ground breaking masterpiece. We didn’t have time to get emotional about it, we were working hard, like mechanics masquerading as musicians.
'It all started with Michael Jackson. That is why artists from Beyonce to Justin Timberlake to boy bands have backing dancers behind them'
'Michael made a video which just told the world - this is what a music video should looks like. And it has never been bettered.'
After months of deals, the Making Of Thriller was released and then Epic backed the release and promotion of Thriller as both a vinyl single and video.
For weeks it was the most played video on the channel around the world.
Pittnam added: 'We wanted to encourage this total package. When this came out it was like, oh my God Michael had moves no-one has seen and he had an innate sense of how to play for the camera.
'And then this video translated to the concert business as that is when you started seeing the big productions coming as opposed to a couple of guys and a guitar standing on a stage with a spotlight on them.
'It all started with Michael Jackson. That is why artists from Beyonce to Justin Timberlake to boy bands have backing dancers behind them. He was responsible for many of the visuals you see at concerts today.
'That was one of the greatest gifts we were handed. He was a model for what kind of performer you should be in the post MTV era.'
Bruce laughed: 'It didn’t turn out too bad. Thriller is not a bad record and it made a bit of money. The music industry has never been the same since that came out.
'Thriller enabled us to get away from making records to making music. It changed broadcasting, videos, artists and the shape of the entertainment.'
Since its release Thriller - the album - has sold over 62 million copies and the video has generated over $300m alone.
Proud Bruce said: 'Everywhere I go around the world people ask me about Michael. The interest is phenomenal.
'He was a one off, someone I am proud to have called a friend and a performer the likes of which we will never see again.'
Source: Daily Mail/MJackson.com
Exclusive: Debbie Rowe Blames Many for MJs Death
- Last Updated on Thursday, 07 November 2013 12:35
Michael Jackson's ex Debbie Rowe is opening up about who she believes should be blamed for the King of Pop's death, saying many of the people who worked closely with him over the years never attempted to intervene to help him.
In an exclusive interview, Rowe tells ET's Rob Marciano, "There were more people involved, every dancer, every musician, every camera man, every sound man that was on that stage that saw him falling apart. God forbid one of them take out a camera and give it to someone like Entertainment Tonight and stop it."
She goes on to explain that in her opinion, people who worked with and around Michael Jackson were too selfish to reach out to the troubled pop star. "They wanted to work with Michael Jackson. They wanted to go on tour with Michael Jackson…All the people that claim to be so close to him who've always been there for him, who've always done everything for him, not one person tried to stop it…[It] is more important to people to say they worked on something. A man died. A father died. A son died."
Tune in to Entertainment Tonight on Tuesday for more of Rowe's interview.