DUBLIN, Ireland — It’s half past four in the morning and I’m making my way to Dublin with Ray.
I have spent a fair amount of time in the back of Ray’s car in the last 34 hours. He is the driver, henchman for the fellow who owns the recording studio in the middle of no man’s land, Ireland. Not only is it a quaint studio built inside the grounds of an old stone classic Irish estate... it’s the new creative home of Michael Jackson.
And yes, I just conducted the first visit with Michael Jackson since he left the United States in June 2005. First off, let me tell te what this visit is not:
It is not a bare all, rehashing of that period of his life. I was prepared to ask him all the domande in the world regarding mistakes made and lessons learned, but trust me, he was not.
He asked if 5 minuti of rolling tape was OK in the studio while he “collaborated” with Will.I.Am from the Black Eyed Peas. Ultimately, We rolled for about 40 minuti and I did ask him domande about Musica and his thoughts for making a comeback.
Michael Jackson was nervous and antsy. He was truly torn. He wanted to stay and keep jamming and have some fun, but he also wanted to leave before, from his perspective, he got crucified da another TV interview.
Michael’s publicist and advisor, Raymone Bain, informed us (me and my Executive Producer, Rob Silverstein - pictured above with Michael and Will.I.Am) that Michael would like to meet us alone, no cameras, at a nearby cottage first. We agreed of course and before long we were seated at a breakfast tavolo in a very cozy, humble stone cottage. Down the spiral staircase he came.
First his boots, then his pants... black with a oro stripe down the side, then a velvet giacca with a white t-shirt underneath, then he turned to face us. I admit, my pulse was running high. He is a mythical character as atypical and untouchable as can be.
First impression I had was that he looked healthy. Fit. As his new landlord told us earlier, artists come to his estate for the whole experience of getting away... for peace and tranquility. It has suited Michael well, although he does not live there.
We stood up, shook hands and began small talk about life... soon, Michael began to make clear what he did not want: an interview. He was just willing to let our cameras roll while he and Will listened to beats and opened the lid to a comeback. I detto that we should just go in there and go until he didn’t want to anymore. Pensively, he agreed and we started for the door and the 50 yard walk to the studio.
This visit is a baby step for Michael.
About ten minuti into the session, after I had rolled out several questions, Michael paused and tried to get out. He did not like receiving pointed domande and he encouraged Will to play più beats so we could just roll casually.
At the end of the day, we did a little più of both. At one point, I suggested Michael remake “Thriller” for a new generation... with CD/DVD and Web components, essentially go with what’s proven but update with the help of technically savvy producer, Will.I.Am.
Michael lit up. Amazingly that was something he hadn’t considered.
When the Musica was rolling and he didn’t have me asking him questions, one could see sparks of life and energy. He hummed a little and at one point got up and walked to the back of the room where he could sposta a little to the music... he was almost dancing.
Michael was there with his children. I never saw them but the studio’s owner, detto they were having a ball, playing with his children and enjoying the exquisite countryside. According to the owner, Michael gets up in the morning and makes breakfast for them... usually porridge and fruit. I find myself hoping that Michael’s life is as normal as possible. Of course, it isn’t. Nobody knows anything about him... does he drive? Apparently, he does occasionally and he even had a cell phone before losing it a giorno later.
There....something normal to which people can RELATE.
Again, this was a first step for Michael. He was excited and terrified. It’s all about feeling whether he can trust somebody o not. His track record is horrible on that front. Maybe it will improve in regards to us. I am quite sure there is più to come.