King of Pop tribute a thriller
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Day-long charity memorial to Jackson features rare screening of “Moonwalker”
A sold-out crowd gathered to honor the King of Pop at a special screening Saturday in the Brenden Palms Theatre. to benefit music education in Nevada. The event featured a rare presentation of Michael Jackson’s film “Moonwalker.”
“Moonwalker,” released internationally in theaters in 1988, is a collection of short films starring Jackson that lead into music videos chronicling songs from his 1987 album, “Bad.” The centerpiece of the film is the 42-minute music video “Smooth Criminal.”
The film begins with Jackson walking on stage to perform his song “Man in the Mirror” and from there on out, every single glimpse or mention of Jackson had the audience in a cheering frenzy.
The self-produced film captured Jackson’s imaginative personality, through everything from animated car chases to shoot outs and even Jackson himself transforming into a robot.
Like most of Jackson’s work, it can only be defined in its own category. With six short films in all, the movie subtly transitions through the music videos with these segments, to portray a sense of plot.
Choreographer Vincent Paterson and actress Kellie Parker both played roles in the film and were in attendance after the tribute event to talk about Jackson and “Moonwalker.”
“Originally it was a short film,” Parker said. “[Jackson] financed it by himself and we just kept adding scenes.” She said the process took about a year.
Paterson met Jackson early in his career, working with him on videos like “Beat It,” “Thriller” and “Smooth Criminal.”
“I worked with him through the years as a dancer beside him, then assistant choreographic and then director,” Paterson said. “If he brought you on the team that means he believes in you.”
Paterson and Parker’s describe Jackson’s focus and work ethic as unlike anything they had ever seen before. Jackson never missed a beat when it came to work.
“He was such a perfectionist,” Paterson said. “He would take some steps I give him and go over it for four hours until it felt so organic to him that it didn’t look like it was choreographed. He did it all for the fans.”
Parker added, “We would practice for 30 minutes before each shoot. He was so committed to it and dedicated to his work.”
As hard of a worker as he was, Paterson and Parker were able to see the lighter side of Jackson.
“Every moment was incredible,” Paterson said. “One moment he would be serious and two minutes later we would be throwing water balloons off the roof trying to hit people on the street.”
Michael Jackson left a lasting impression on many who were fortunate enough to have spent time with him, including Paterson.
“I think one of my favorite memories was being at his house watching movies, eating popcorn, laughing and throwing popcorn at Bubbles [the Chimp],” Paterson said. “The laughter with Michael was spectacular. He loved to laugh and I love to laugh.”
Paterson describes Jackson’s legacy as opening the door for young male dancers and creating arrangements of songs that were never thought of before.
Paterson commented on the return to commercial production that Jackson never got to have.
“It would have been an amazing comeback,” he said. “He wanted to do it for his children because they’ve never seen him perform.”
The benefit culminated what was a day-long celebration of Jackson at the Palms that began with a charity tribute concert followed by a ceremony to honor the artist.
At the ceremony, Johnny Brenden, CEO and president of Brenden Theaters, presented a Brenden Celebrity Star to Jackson which Jackson’s father, Joe Jackson, accepted on his behalf.