November 30, 2010
Michael Jackson dreamt of a triumphant return
to showbiz after years of seclusion with the music video of
One More Chance in 2003, only to have the dream turn into his
Michael Jackson dreamt of a triumphant return to showbiz after
years of seclusion with the music video of One More Chance in
2003, only to have the dream turn into his worst nightmare.
Charles Thomson speaks to the performer's colleagues, collaborators
and co-stars about his little-known final music video.
This is Part 4 of a four part feature
1. Engineering Michael Jackson's Comeback
2. Michael Jackson's Dream Takes Shape
3.Filming of One More Chance
4. Dream Return Turns into a Nightmare
Dream Turns into a Nightmare
IAt roughly 8.30 next morning Stuart Backerman and Jackson cohort
Marc Schaffel spoke on the telephone to discuss their departure
for Europe the following day. Their conversation was interrupted
by an incoming telephone call for Schaffel from Joe Marcus,
a security coordinator at Neverland. "It was a weird hour
for Joe to be calling," says Backerman, "so Schaffel
said he would call me back."
A short while later Backerman's telephone rang. "You gotta
turn on the television," said Schaffel. Backerman switched
on his TV and saw the now famous helicopter images of police
swarming Michael Jackson's Neverland Ranch. Led by District
Attorney Tom Sneddon, 70 sheriffs from the Santa Barbara Police
Department had been dispatched to raid Michael Jackson's home.
"Honestly," Backerman recalls, "You would have
thought it was an army battalion going into an Iraqi village.
There were so many of them."
His heart sank. "At that moment I realized that the European
trip and the whole MJ Universe project was finished because
by that point Diane Dimond was on, revealing that it was all
over a second charge of child molestation.
"Michael was just getting ready to leave the 1993 allegations
behind and rebrand himself. We'd just finished dealing with
the Martin Bashir scandal and here it was again." He sighs.
"Here it was again."
In Las Vegas, it fell on manager Dieter Wiesner to break the
news to Michael Jackson. "Michael was still in his room,"
Wiesner explains. "He was sitting next to the fireplace
when I came in and he was very quiet. I had to tell him and
it was not easy to tell Michael things like this because he
was in such a good mood. He saw a future. When the Bashir situation
arose he was very down. Now everything had changed and Michael
was ready to do new things. Then, to go to his room and tell
him such a bad situation
it was a disaster.
"I told him, 'Michael, there is bad news but on the other
side you have to see it as also good news. The bad news is the
police are on the ranch.' Michael was completely shocked. I
was sitting next to him; I had my arm on his shoulder.
"He looked at me and he was really... You could see the
blood going out of his face. He was deeply shocked. But I told
him, 'Michael, now you have the chance finally to clear up everything.
Once and forever you can clear up everything.'"
News spread quickly amongst the crew. "I saw it on TV
that morning and by the time I got to the hotel lobby, everybody
else had already found out," says a crew member. "So
we went to work as normal and waited to see what was going to
"Of course, when we got to the soundstage it was a complete
zoo with paparazzi and fans. It had leaked where we were shooting.
The day before, nobody knew we were shooting or anything.
"We waited that entire day for Michael to come and I think
we went back a second day. Then he called finally and said,
'I'm just not going to be able to come'."
Jackson spent much of those two days crying, says Dieter Wiesner.
"I was sitting with him day and night. He was shocked;
he was crying
he didn't know what to do. It was such a
bad situation. We were supposed to go to Europe. He was ready
to move on in his life and everything was prepared. It was just
a beautiful situation and this news shocked him deeply. Really,
it killed him."
Two days after the Neverland raid Jackson's depression turned
to anger. When it emerged that the boy behind the accusation
was none other than Gavin Arvizo, the boy whose hand Jackson
had held in the Martin Bashir documentary, Jackson decided to
"You know, when it was clear that this allegation was
because of the Arvizos, then he started to really fight the
situation," says Wiesner. "Michael told me, 'Dieter,
you know what, they should bring this young boy into a big place,
invite all the press and he should look me in the eyes and tell
me that I did this.' So he was ready to fight."
That the allegation had come from the Arvizos made the ruination
of the MJ Universe project even more galling for Stuart Backerman.
"Sneddon didn't have anything except the word of Janet
Arvizo, and she was totally crazy," says Backerman. "And
I know that because I was there and I saw her. She had a track
record as long as my right arm. Sneddon just wanted to get Jackson.
"It's very frustrating to this day. We had the world's
greatest celebrity and he was more focused than he had been
for a long time. But the whole thing got cut off by Sneddon."
Almost unbelievably, Sneddon had managed for the second time
to steal Jackson's movie dream away from him just as he was
on the cusp of achieving it. Prior to the 1993 allegations,
moving into the movie industry had been Jackson's greatest preoccupation.
His chances ruined by the scandal of the Jordy Chandler debacle,
he'd wound up back on the road - the one place he'd least wanted
to be - and grown ever more weary of the music business.
Movie success was the one type of success which had always
managed to evade Jackson - the most decorated entertainer in
history - and it had long been the one type of success he truly
longed for. Believing that One More Chance would fulfill his
contract with Sony, Jackson had felt he was finally free to
pursue his vision.
"I really have to say, he was a very sharp guy. He knew
exactly what he wanted," laments Dieter Wiesner. "I
think if he would have had the time and if nobody had come in-between,
he could have been very successful in the second part in this
career, with the movies and the animated videos. In my opinion,
he would still be here today."
With movie success set firmly in his sights, Jackson was merely
jumping through the necessary hoops before he could pursue that
goal with one hundred percent of his attention and energy. One
More Chance, he had thought, was the final hoop. Michael Jackson
had believed that the single and music video would win him back
his freedom. It is one of life's cruel ironies that the next
time his fans saw him, he would be in handcuffs.
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