Thriller 40 (2023) Movie Script

Mama se, mama
sa, ma-ma coo sa
There are two things
in the music business:
before Thriller
and after Thriller.
But you wanna be bad
- Just beat it, beat it
- Beat it, beat it
No one wants to be defeated
Showin' how funky and
strong is your fight
It doesn't matter...
The first time I heard
Michael Jackson's
Thriller, he was pop,
he was R and B, he was
gospel, he was rock.
It was everything that I loved.
And bring all of these
elements together...
dance and choreography
and theatrical moments
and the feeling,
you know, like a
musical, damn near.
The magic of it... each track
was better than the next.
It was in your brain,
and everybody knew it.
For the 14th consecutive week,
the best-selling
album in the country
is Michael Jackson's Thriller.
If Thriller came out today,
it would still be the
greatest album ever made.
It's the ultimate blueprint
to modern pop music.
I love the way that record
is sequenced, right?
"Wanna Be Startin'
Somethin'." The title says it.
He wanted to be starting some
shit right now. He wanted...
He's like, "I'm about
to start some shit
in the industry right now. I'm
about to blow everybody up."
This was literally the
pinnacle of everything
that began with him.
"Thriller," "Beat It"
and "Billie Jean."
To this day, when
"Thriller" comes on, I mean,
there's not a Halloween
that doesn't happen
where you don't hear that song.
But then you have "Human
Nature," "P.Y.T.,"
and then you have
"Lady in My Life."
It became the
biggest-selling album ever.
Michael Jackson. Always
keep one in the cab.
This is history.
I want to say it's
Black culture,
but it's-it's for everyone.
Thriller is the
album of all time.
Thriller is a
cultural phenomenon
that's lasted four decades
and seems determined
to continue going forward.
What takes your breath away is
he had the ambition to become
the biggest star in the world.
And he did it. The
fact that he had
that dream, I mean,
that-that goal,
that's what's the
remarkable story.
Ever since we were kids,
we've always wanted to dance
or keep the time to the music.
And that's part of us.
It's like, uh, something
we have to have.
And it's in us,
because I don't know
what I would do if there
was, uh... wasn't music.
Joe Jackson's role
in his children's careers would
give people a lot to talk about.
The former steelworker had
somehow gotten his family
out of Indiana,
groomed for stardom.
"I Want You Back"
by The Jackson 5
Now, here are five brothers
from Gary, Indiana, ranging
in age from ten to 18:
The Jackson 5.
Oh, baby, give me
one more chance
To show you that I love you
Won't you please let me
Back in your heart
Oh, darlin', I was
blind to let you go
Let you go, baby
But now since I see you...
This poor man's life has been
dissected completely.
Is there anything anybody
hasn't asked you by now?
Enjoy yourself
Enjoy yourself, enjoy
yourself with me
Enjoy yourself,
enjoy yourself
Enjoy yourself with me
You better enjoy yourself...
Now, tell me, what do
you think is the success
of the Jacksons, yourself
and the Jacksons?
I would say probably,
um, togetherness.
I can't think about Michael
without thinking about
The Jackson 5 and
Motown and all of that,
so it takes me a
little further back.
Takes me to Off the Wall,
which is one of my
favorite records.
Welcome to WBLS once
again, Michael Jackson.
Thank you very much.
The name of the album is...
- Off the Wall.
- Are you?
We'll be back with
Michael right after this.
Is the feeling now
I was not the biggest
Jackson 5 fan.
I was a serious
pop music critic.
And I said, "Well, it's
cute what they're doing."
- Baby, baby
- Ow, ow...
You know, James Brown,
Jackie Wilson,
that's really nice.
You know, it wasn't what
I was interested in.
And then Off the Wall comes out,
and I was caught up
in the excitement
of learning more about
Michael and his world,
so I interview him separately.
You interview the brothers
all together, him separately.
You know, he's nervous.
He doesn't like
to do interviews.
He's sad, he's lonely, he says.
He starts talking
about his life.
He was so hurt around
14 and 15 and 16,
when his face changed.
He got bigger.
I mean, his face had broken out.
He was so sad.
People didn't care
about him anymore.
You know, adults would come
into a party at some house,
and they would be looking all
around. "Where's Michael?"
And they'd be walking
right past him, you know?
And he got the feeling that,
"We don't care about you.
We want that little kid."
He was dead set on his focus
to be, you know, Michael
Jackson, solo artist.
And he had to.
He knew that it was
time. He knew that...
He was excited to have it
all be on his own terms.
You know, not with...
not attached to anybody.
And he knew that-that...
that he was even
gonna soar from that.
Well, Off the Wall was
an enormous success.
It-it put Michael on the
map as a solo artist.
People forget that,
before Off the Wall,
there was a period between
Motown and the Destiny album
where people thought maybe
the career of The
Jackson 5 was over,
that they were yesterday's news,
forgotten boy band, really.
So Off the Wall reestablished
Michael as someone to watch.
Off the Wall was just
this incredible record,
and we knew that
Mike was coming back
with something special because
he didn't win everything that
he wanted during the Grammys,
and he only won one award,
which was the R and
B award at that.
He thought he was gonna sweep.
He thought for sure, "I
got a pop smash here."
So, when that didn't happen,
he left there with a vengeance,
just determined to
do better next time.
He was determined
to change the way
he was perceived.
Uh, there were a lot of writings
he did to himself, affirmations.
I look in the mirror,
and I would say over
and over to myself...
I'd take a deep breath,
put my feet together,
raise myself erect,
strong like a...
a hero warrior, and I'd say,
"Biggest-selling album of
all time, greatest seller,"
over and over to my mind,
and look in my eyes.
And I'd mean it.
I'd say, "Biggest-selling
album of all times."
And I wouldn't accept anything
unless this was
exactly what I wanted.
My attitude was:
I want the biggest-selling
album of all times,
to break records, to
do phenomenal work.
I came in angry.
Michael was writing.
He was writing. He was fuming.
He was still upset about
this idea that he
would be denied,
you know, major awards
for Off the Wall.
I just remember
all of the, uh...
the process of when
they were doing it.
And the, uh... the excitement
while they're recording,
just, you know...
just hearing tales, you
know, as they're coming
in and out of the
studio with it.
I said you wanna be
startin' somethin'
You got to be
startin' somethin'
I said you wanna be
startin' somethin'
You got to be
startin' somethin'
- It's too high to get over
- Yeah, yeah
You're too low to get under
- Yeah, yeah
- You're stuck in the middle
- Yeah, yeah
- And the pain is thunder
Yeah, yeah...
Westlake was a
really great studio
because y-you felt the
facility had this warmth
and this friendliness and this
casual put-you-at-ease feeling.
There was just the
most incredible vibe.
Where you could just be
creatively free to-to take...
take the music
wherever you wanted.
This is hallowed ground. I
was... I was in here a lot
'cause Quincy made a
lot of records in here.
Off the Wall was made in here.
Certainly Thriller.
Quincy worked in here a lot.
Quincy influenced everything
- we've ever done in our lives.
- Yes.
- Whether you can hear it or not.
- Exactly.
Depth of understanding of music.
That's what makes Quincy Quincy.
He's done big band.
He's done small bands.
He's done pop. He's done rock.
He's done everything.
So, just understanding
all those different genres
and-and how to fuse
them all together
is what gives you all these
wonderful applications that you
get on a Michael Jackson record.
And that sound was ma...
You know, Bruce Swedien
had a lot to do with
how that overall
sound was... the echo
and the reverbs and the...
the way he would place things.
And they were excited.
As we were making the record,
you could feel the
excitement in the room.
Knowing that we
were doing something
that was gonna be special.
Wow, I don't even know
where to begin.
I just remember coming
here to this studio,
which was like a second home,
and coming in, listening to, uh,
the demos that Rod
Temperton would provide.
And we would just start
to carve musically
and-and work our way into
the details of the demos.
Rod Temperton.
This guy was brilliant.
I mean, he was deep.
I love Rod Temperton. He
wrote incredible songs,
and he was a part of Quincy's,
you know, tight team.
We did a lot of funky sounds
on "Baby Be Mine."
Quincy was just looking for...
He's always looking for
something different.
So we were brought
in because it was...
I think Quincy knew about MTV,
and he was looking
for a cinematic thing
'cause Quincy came from film.
When Michael would
want... he-he knew things
that he would want for sounds.
And, uh, he would put it on
a record player and play it.
And then I'd say, "Well, let
me go get that other synth."
So it would be in the truck,
parked in the parking
lot of Westlake,
or it would be in the hallway.
We had Anvil Cases
lined up the hall,
and we just basically
took over the place.
And we were creating sounds
and using synthesizers
in-in kind of a big way
and replacing orchestra.
So, one of the things that
I noticed about
Michael's development
as a songwriter...
I-I saw him getting
more rhythmically and
harmonically advanced,
taking steps forward
and forward and forward.
His talent was not only
developing as a singer.
- Mm-hmm.
- He developed as a...
- as an entertainer.
- Yes.
It's funny you guys should
have picked this room,
'cause I'm walking through
here, you know, and I-I just...
you know, I'm just
seeing. I can...
I almost, um, channel him,
- his spirit into this room.
- Yeah.
He had us prepared.
- We were prepared.
- No question.
And he would come
in ready to go.
He was the kind of
individual that, uh,
had a awesome work ethic.
The process was
quite a, uh, adventure
'cause most people forget
that the first single
from the album was
"The Girl Is Mine."
Obviously, you had no
bigger star in the world
than Paul McCartney.
And, you know, the pairing
of Michael and Paul,
what better flag waver
to get a project started?
Every night, she walks
right in my dreams
Since I met her
from the start
I'm so proud I
am the only one
Who is special in her heart
The girl is mine
Yeah, hit it,
John. Hit it, John.
The doggone girl is mine...
So we get the call.
It's, like, Paul McCartney
and Michael Jackson.
I mean, it just didn't
get any bigger than that,
so we were kind of like,
"Oh, holy shit. What
are we gonna do?
What's this gonna be all about?"
When Paul McCartney
walked in the room,
there was a palpable
change of energy of:
"Oh, my God, that's
Paul McCartney."
Saying that she's
yours, not mine
Sending roses and
your silly dreams
Really just a waste of time
Because she's mine
- Beautiful. Whew!
- Yeah.
The doggone girl is mine
Do that one more time,
man, from the second verse.
Uh, that was a wonderful day.
For me, it was a day
that changed my life.
I was in the presence
of the greatest,
most successful people
in the music business.
Paul McCartney, Michael
Jackson, Quincy Jones.
George Martin was there.
Because of its catchy melody,
many think "The Girl Is Mine"
was written by Paul McCartney,
when, in fact, it was
composed by Michael Jackson.
Really just a waste of time
Because she's mine...
Once the music started flowing,
it was like here's
two old friends.
The girl is mine
Mine, mine
Yes, she's mine
- Mine, mine
- Don't waste
But we both
cannot have her
So it's one or the other
And one day you'll discover
That she's my girl
forever and ever
Don't build your hopes
to be let down...
Coming out of Off the Wall,
the challenge was:
Is Michael Jackson
really a pop star,
or is he just a
big R and B artist?
Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, whoo
The way it worked was that
you were a Black artist
until you weren't,
and you weren't when you
got on the pop charts.
Michael told me
"The Girl Is Mine"
was his sneak attack.
He knew he wanted to cross over,
and what better way to do it
than to have Paul McCartney?
I've heard it all
before, Michael.
She told me that I'm her
forever lover, you know?
Don't you remember?
Well, after loving me,
she said she couldn't
love another.
Is that what she said?
Yeah, she said it.
You keep dreaming.
- I don't believe it, no
- Mine, mine
- The girl is mine
- Mine, mine, mine
- No, mine
- No, mine
She's mine, mine,
mine, mine, mine

Mine, mine, mine...
So, that initial session
with Michael and Paul
happens in April.
The actual formal
sessions for Thriller
didn't start for a
couple months later.
Yeah, Michael, uh, did the
demos at-at his home studio.
Quincy invited me to
go to Michael's house
to listen to some demos.
What I didn't realize was that
we would be given our own
private world premiere
of "Billie Jean," "Beat It,"
"Wanna Be Startin' Somethin'."
"Beat It" (demo)
by Michael Jackson
Beat it
But you're driving me mad
- So beat it, beat it
- Beat it, beat it
No one wants to be defeated
Showing how funky,
strong is your fight
It doesn't matter
who's wrong or right
- Just beat it, beat it
- Beat it, beat it
No one wants to
be defeated...
Well, the songwriting process
is something that's very
difficult to explain
because it's very spiritual.
Who's wrong or right,
just beat it...
It's, uh... it really
is in the hands of God,
and it's as if it's
been written already.
That's the real truth.
As if it's been written in its
entirety before you were born
and you're just
really the source
through which the songs come.
Really, because they're...
they just fall right into
your lap in its entirety.
You don't have to do much,
uh, thinking about it.
And I feel guilty having to put
my name sometimes on the songs,
but I-I do write them.
I compose them. I write
them. I-I do the scoring.
I do the lyrics.
I do the melody.
But still it's, uh...
it's the work of God.
"Startin' Somethin'"
was wild. You know,
he had all this...
"Wanna Be Startin' Somethin'"
has the frenetic
percussion of Off the Wall,
which is amazing because
it's like, you have these
incredibly tight drum grooves
and these programmed beats now.
I think that's why, for-for me,
"Wanna Be Startin' Somethin'"
is still my favorite.
I remember just, uh, uh, being
able to go out and do the demo
- at Hayvenhurst, yeah.
- Mm-hmm.
He had it before we got there,
and then h-he just, you know,
shared it with us and
we worked out the parts.
And we just had to perfect it,
because it's so
rhythmic and all that.
And so he knew the
sound, he knew the...
the rhythm that he wanted
to hear and everything,
so like I said, we were quick.
- Too low to get under
- Yeah, yeah
Stuck in the middle
- Yeah, yeah
- And the pain is thunder
- Yeah
- Hard to get over
There's a certain approach, you
know, you want to take to...
you know, to
emphasize the feeling.
I would say that Quincy helped
glue those elements together
and make an arc out
of the progression
of how the song started
to... to the vamp at the end,
and made it seamless, you
know, including horns,
which, of course,
at-at first thought,
would be considered too jazzy,
but they blended perfectly
well in the song later on.
- Yeah, yeah
- Too high to get over
- Yeah, yeah
- You're too low to get under
- Yeah, yeah
- You're stuck in the middle
- Yeah, yeah
- And the pain is thunder...
But there's still that...
And then at the end,
when it goes a cappella to...
Mama se, mama
sa, ma-ma coo sa
That, as a DJ... that
is your best friend
because then you start to
mix in your next record
and blending in whatever
the biggest songs you have.
Mama se, mama
sa, ma-ma coo sa
Mama se, mama
sa, ma-ma coo sa
- Hee, hee, hee
- Mama se, mama sa
- Ma-ma coo sa
- Help me sing it
Mama se, mama
sa, ma-ma coo sa
- Hoo, hoo
- Mama se, mama sa
- Ma-ma coo sa
- Hee, hee
Mama se, mama
sa, ma-ma coo sa
Mama se, mama
sa, ma-ma coo sa
- Sing it to the world
- Mama se, mama sa...
As a matter of
fact, I asked him
what "mama se, mama sa,
ma-ma coo sa" meant,
you know, while
it was going down.
He... "Well, it
don't mean nothing.
Just sing it, you know," and...
Yeah, and there it is,
because that was difficult
to do, I'm telling you.
He said, "I like
singing with you all
because you sound like me."
He always thought our
voices blended so well
- with-with his.
- Mm-hmm.
"Wanna Be Startin' Somethin'"
was like... it was
like an opportunity
to kind of get into his mind.
And this idea of,
like, "Billie Jean"
and the fact that he was
living kind of in this...
this world where
you didn't really know
what was real or wasn't.
She told me I
was a lonely man
And I felt sad
She called my name,
then she said hello
All them who died
And I sit in a cup in a ride
It seems that you
My mom had just bought
a stereo system,
and it had lights.
The drums kicked in.
And then...
I mean... What?
And I ran down the hallway
just to hear closely
what was... what was playing,
what this record was.
And it was "Billie
Jean," and it was on
and poppin' from there.
It's actually kind of nasty,
and you can hear the room mics
and it's dirtier than you think.
You know, you always
have that moment where
you fall in love with an
artist for the first time.
Really truly great,
legendary artists,
you have that same feeling
over and over and over again.
"Billie Jean" was that moment
where I fell in love with
Michael all over again.
When Michael sings it,
he puts the funk into it
the way he does all the...
and all the little
stuff that he puts in.
That gives it the syncopation.
And if I just go...
he's gonna go...
She was more like
a beauty queen
From a movie scene
I said, "Don't mind
But what do you
mean I am the one
Who will dance on the
floor in the round?"
She said I am the one
Who will dance on the
floor in the round
She told me her
name was Billie Jean
As she caused a scene
Then every head turned
With eyes that dreamed...
Everybody loves toxic R and B.
"Billie Jean is not my
lover. She's just a girl
who claims that I am the one"?
Yeah, that's like,
was it his side chick?
You know what I'm saying?
Was it some chick who,
you know, he had an encounter
with and got pregnant?
Is this real, or is
this some delusional fan
who is saying that, you know,
they had an encounter
that they did or didn't?
All of those things just led you
to be more intrigued
about an artist, right?
But it was, like,
urgent and R and B.
It was... it was
crazy. It was a...
an amazing R and B
record, and his lyrics...
you know, "The kid is
not my son," I mean...
The kid is not my son...
"The kid is not my son."
That first... well, that...
we-we like bad boys,
so that made us
love him some more.
And then when I saw the
video, I was losing my mind.
I lost my voice, screaming.
You know, it was
about "Billie Jean."
You know, him stepping on,
you know, the-the pavement,
it glowing and, you know,
making you feel the magic.
I'd storyboarded that, uh,
he would walk down the, uh...
the street and the paving
stones would light up.
And I showed him
which 11 paving stones
we could afford to have light up
and therefore which
ones couldn't.
And he looked carefully at them,
and-and I said, "Well,
should we rehearse it?"
And he said, "No,
let-let's just do it."
And we ran the
playback, the music,
and the chorus kicked
in for "Billie Jean,"
and he began his dance movement
down that street, and
I'll never forget it.
The-the camera
actually steamed up.
I could hardly even see him
through the-the eyepiece
because it was
so exciting to watch.
Michael is doing
so much moving
that Steve isn't even getting.
There are several
shots in "Billie Jean"
where he's just being
shot from the waist up
and you can just see him
doing all kinds of stuff.
And it's like,
"Why aren't you getting that?"
But that's just how new
the medium was to
capturing dancers.
Michael opened
the door for that.
I am the one...
And every time they just kept
freezing him in those brackets,
and every time he'd
walk, they froze him.
And every time he
said something,
I just was losing my mind
'cause I loved him so much.
But on "Billie Jean,"
we was like, "Oh, he is
super-duper-duper sexy."
- Not my lover
- Don't call me, Billie Jean
Billie Jean is
not my lover...
MTV refused to
play "Billie Jean."
They said, "Well, our
network appeals to,
you know, white teenagers,
and this just really
doesn't fit our format."
hard rock guitar riff
This is it.
Welcome to MTV Music Television.
I'm Mark Goodman.
- I'm Martha Quinn.
- I'm Alan Hunter.
You'll never look at
music the same way again.
Turn it on! Leave it on!
America, see the
music you want to see.
I want my MTV.
Some prominent Black
musicians are complaining
that they are being left
out of the video market,
specifically the Music
Television cable operation.
It-it occurred to me,
having watched MTV
over the last few months,
um, that it's-it's got a...
it's a solid enterprise and
it's got a lot going for it.
I'm just floored by the fact
that there's so many Bl...
so few Black artists
featured on it.
Why is that?
The fact is, quite frankly,
we're a rock and roll station.
MTV will deny this
till the world ends,
that they had nothing
against Black artists.
But they refused to,
uh, play Michael.
In 1975, I was named
president of the
CBS Records Group
and a vice president
of CBS, Inc.
No single record changed
the business and my life
as powerfully as Michael
Jackson's Thriller.
I screamed bloody murder
when MTV refused
to air his videos.
They argued that their
format, white rock,
excluded Michael's music.
I argued they were
racist assholes.
So Walter Yetnikoff said,
"Really? Okay.
If you don't play
Michael Jackson,
I'm pulling Billy Joel and
everybody else that I have,
uh, off of MTV."
I've never been more forceful
or obnoxious.
I've also never
been as effective.
With added pressure from
Quincy Jones, they caved in,
and in doing so, the MTV
color line came crashing down.
One of the most important
things about Thriller was
the doors that it opened
for other artists to
have the opportunity
to get on the pop charts.
Tina Turner. My
God, Private Dancer.
That's who it was.
It was Tina, it was
Lionel, it was Whitney,
it was Michael and Prince.
Revenues could just be crazy.
Thriller changes the dynamic
and the culture.
Michael shows the way
that this is possible.
Yeah, I-I grew up, uh,
during the time that
Thriller was released,
and MTV was just becoming
a really big thing.
I remember almost more vividly
the amazing storytelling
through the videos,
which is pretty interesting
'cause I think here we are
40 years later, and
the music and the video
is coming to life again
for the next generation
on TikTok.
Michael Jackson's music
has been available
on TikTok since August 2020.
I think there's a real rebirth
of the music and the video
from these songs on the album.
And it is this new generation
that's being exposed
or engaging with the music.
There are about ten million
video creations on
TikTok right now
that include music
from Thriller.
There are 17 billion views
of those ten million
videos that exist.
There are about two billion
likes on those videos,
so people putting
a little thumbs-up
or sharing or doing something
to say, "I'm excited about this.
I'm engaging with
this-this music."
Pretty massive numbers.
They're hearing it
for the first time.
They're-they're like...
You know, it's-it's
the same feeling
we maybe had when we
watched the MTV video
for "Thriller" or "Beat It."
They're having that same
experience 40 years later,
but rather than just
watch, they're actually
then making something to
engage with that music.
I was kind of upset about
the news I heard about MTV and
how they weren't showing Blacks,
and that kind of hurt me.
So I wanted to do something
that was so powerful,
so strong that everybody
would have to show it.
But I wanted to
tell a strong story.
The story had to sell itself.
And what... these so-called
videos weren't doing that.
They were terrible. They
were just a lot of nothing
put together just
to sell a song.
I wanted my things
to be powerful.
I wanted to stand out
from everything else
that when you see it,
you run to the set
and you're glued
to it, watching it.
I wanted quality. I
wanted excellence.
I wanted the best. I wanted
to perfect perfection.
One thing that I can
always say about Michael
is that you felt like there
was a sense of culture.
And the culture would
span all the way
from kind of like this Broadway,
you know, more theatrical world,
and then there was this other
element that was cultural,
that was almost like gangsters.
You know, when you
look at "Beat It"
and the idea that the people
of that era felt like,
"Oh, he's speaking
to us and with us.
He's rocking with us.
He's making music for us.
We can dance to his music."
It was an incredible
move to decide,
"We're gonna have a
rock and roll record
on this thing."
"Beat It" was straight
up rock and roll.
Michael's idea with "Beat It"
was to distance himself
from Off the Wall,
from the dance, disco.
And Michael wanted to stretch.
Creatively, he
wanted to stretch.
They wanted a crossover
hit across the board.
Rock, R and B, pop.
They called me to come in
with Michael and Quincy
to do the...
They want to go rock
and roll, let's do it.
You know, so I did it with
all... you know, all-all that,
doubled it and
made it sound huge.
And then I played the
bass on it as well.
I did play bass on
that record as well.
So I sat with them
and made that swing,
and when Michael was
dancing in the room,
I knew I was in the pocket.
When he wrote "Beat It,"
he said, "I want a kind
of guitar player on here
that will attract young,
white, teenage males."
Eddie Van Halen.
He said, "Well, what
do you want me to do?"
And Quincy said, "Well,
I want you to be you.
That's you right
there." And he pointed
to the famous, you
know, Strat that he had.
And he said, "I'm not gonna
tell you what to play.
You go be you."
I mean, Eddie ripped
these solos off one
after the other.
I remember, like, hearing
the sound coming from Studio A,
where he was doing the-the solo.
It was so loud.
I could... I just...
It was just so loud.
Bruce Swedien and
Quincy brilliantly
edited that solo together.
I mean, I think I
probably just loved it
'cause, at that moment,
it was probably everything
that I ever loved in
one song, you know?
I've done way more time googling
Lukather's tone on "Beat It"
than, um, Eddie Van Halen's,
because it's the
tone that drives
the whole record...
that's the riff.
It's the perfect way that, like,
a rock guitar could ever sit
over programmed
drums in a... in a...
like, a funky groove.
I thought his videos
were incredible.
I mean, first off,
the guy could dance.
I mean, just being in the room,
watching him groove
while we're playing.
That short film...
you see, this whole movie,
it's about a big fight that's
about to happen, right,
between two rival gangs, right?
He saw value in
street culture.
He wanted to try
to figure out a way
on how to incorporate it, and...
and the beginning
of it was "Beat It."
The people that you see
in that film are a mixture
of dancers and street cats.
And not only that
is that you actually had
real gangsters on set.
Like, real Bloods and Crips
and Vatos and all
that, like, for real.
There was such a magic
in Michael and his movement.
No one wants to be
defeated, oh, Lord
Showin' how funky and
strong is your fight
It doesn't matter
who's wrong or right
Just beat it...
You had B-boying
that was going on in New York.
You had popping and locking
that was going down
over here in California,
and strutting and-and
robotting, all them.
So the guy that's vibrating
in the "Beat It" short film
with the... with the glasses on,
his name is Robot Dane.
This is the first ever
street dance wave of the
United States of America.
Showin' how funky and
strong is your fight
It doesn't matter...
The most relevant scene
at the time, which either
was breakdancing, locking,
popping, waving, whatever
it might have been,
he's pushing the
envelope forward,
he's teaching us some things,
he's informing us as artists,
but also, too, as performers,
he's letting us know that,
"Yo, I want to be the baddest."
As a fan or a critic,
you're always looking
for breathtaking moments,
the time when you say,
"I've never seen
anything like that.
I'm probably not gonna see
anything like that again."
The Motown show,
that's what I think was
the most important step
in the whole Thriller process
of making him the superstar.
And I'll be there
- Whoo!
Bob Jones was, uh,
vice president of
publicity at Motown.
He says,
"We're doing a Motown show."
I rented a tuxedo, and,
uh, I went to the show.
People just went crazy.
I was home in front of the TV.
Waiting for him
to take us there.
First, we didn't know
what he was gonna do,
because he was up there
with his brothers.
The Jacksons leave,
the brothers leave, and
Mike stays out there.
And in the audience,
you could hear
just kind of like:
"What's-what's getting
ready to happen now?"
And, you know, Mike goes
through the whole...
"Those were some great times.
I love the-the old songs."
You know, th-those
were good songs.
I-I like those songs a lot,
but, especially, I like...
"Billie Jean"!
the new songs.
And then here comes
"Billie Jean."
The tape that you can see
of "Billie Jean"
and the stuff you see
going on in the audience,
it does not capture what
was happening in that crowd.
These people were going
absolutely berserk.
Who will dance on the
floor in the round?
Mike just turned
it the fuck out.
People always told me,
"Be careful of what you do
Don't go around breakin'
young girls' hearts"
And Mother always told me...
I mean, he just laid
a bomb on that room.
"'Cause the lie becomes
the truth," hey, hey
Billie Jean is not my...
I was at that show
at the Pasadena
Civic Auditorium.
And he's moving different.
He's got his own moves now.
He's not so much doing
what-what he learned growing up,
and he was excited about it.
We just was happy to see
Michael Jackson perform, period.
Nobody seen the moonwalk coming.
She says I am...
He does the moonwalk.
That's the breathtaking
moment, okay?
And after the show, I
couldn't believe it.
I had to go backstage
and to ask somebody,
"Was there a
special trick floor?
How did he do that?"
You know, this was
the performance
that really changed
space and time.
A few of his dances, we
call 'em timekeepers.
And he created a whole
vocabulary of timekeepers,
whether it's with his hip...
or with his... you
know, his side,
- stomping with the ankle.
- That's right.
Or he'll stomp with the foot.
With that, you can sing.
You see what I'm saying?
And it looks like
you're dancing.
- But you're really not.
- It's an illu...
It's-it's a bit
of a trick, right?
And you go... you
walk over here.
And switch the mic,
flip the coat, put the
hand in the pocket.
You could do a few things
here and there that only...
only you can do if you know
your song and your music.
You know, when you see
him glide across
the floor or pop,
it's a special effect.
He saw magic in that dance.
Look at that... if
you pause each moment,
it's an iconic silhouette.
It's the hat, it's
the arms, it's the...
it's the tapping of the leg.
Right? The kick.
To see a Black man
standing on his toes,
seeing that and not
being conscious of it
has made generations
of Black, brown,
white, whatever color kids feel
like anything was possible.
It's bigger than I think we,
uh, think and acknowledge.
After Mike finished,
the producer had to get
on the microphone and say,
"Ladies and gentlemen,
please, please,
gather yourselves
and take your seats.
We have more show to tape.
There's much more show coming."
And it took a minute for people
to get their ties back together
and the women to put
their wigs back on.
Okay, I have one
question for you.
Who was the unfortunate artist
who had to come on...
I don't remember.
I think that was the
moment that he had
his breakout moment from
the... from the group.
That song, "Billie Jean,"
and the way he performed
it on that night
set the standard of what
it was to be a megastar.
The next day after the show,
Fred Astaire called my house.
He said, "I saw the
show last night.
I taped it. I watched
it twice this morning."
And he said, "You
were incredible.
You're a hell of a mover,
and you really put them
on their A-S-S," he said.
And I said, "God, thank you.
It's so wonderful
for you to say that,
'cause I think you're the best."
And that was my r-reward,
'cause I think he's brilliant.
To a classical dancer,
it's about your line,
it's about the shapes
that you're-you're making.
And Michael does that.
That, to me, is very
similar to a trained dancer,
even though he wasn't trained.
He would've been the
ideal ballet dancer.
The proportions of his body.
He was lean, uh, and long,
um, and just had, like,
a natural instinct
when he moved.
But there... but there was
such precision and clarity.
He was a perfectionist,
and that's what dancers are.
Um, you know, you don't
commit that type of time
and sacrifice your body,
the injury, all of those things,
if you don't have the passion
for it and the love for it.
And all of that sums up Michael
as a dancer, as a
performer, as an artist.
Michael Jackson didn't
invent dancing on film,
but his particular synthesis
of the Nicholas
Brothers on one hand
and Bob Fosse, Astaire,
popping, locking,
moonwalking... no one had ever
put those elements
together before like that.
You can see it all
the way through from
"Billie Jean" and "Beat
It" and "Thriller,"
all the way through to all
of these other artists.
Look at MC Hammer,
"U Can't Touch This."
Then you go forward to, like,
Usher and Justin Timberlake.
And then you go farther
forward to Justin Bieber,
Doja Cat, Bruno Mars.
Michael is emulated.
If you look at BTS,
you can see it.
I'm all in with BTS.
I love those guys.
Every move they do is
all Michael Jackson.
Michael created that.
The entire K-pop wave,
they've all studied Michael
in terms of stage clothes,
video clothes and stagecraft.
There's a great video
if you watch BTS.
There's a lot of
Michael Jackson.
You see it in their dancing.
'Cause I, I, I'm in
the stars tonight
So watch me bring the fire
and set the night alight
Shining through the city
with a little funk and soul
So I'm-a light it up
like dynamite, whoa-oh-oh
Dyn-na-na-na, na-na-na-na-na,
na-na-na, life is dynamite
So, the entire K-pop movement,
they're students of the game.
You can look at a number of
millennial hip-hop artists...
Polo G being one of them...
23, 24 years old, from Chicago,
yet he's very much in
trance with Michael Jackson
and he uses Michael
Jackson music
and imagery in
some of his music.
Ha, smooth
criminal, Mike Jack
And I still like to tote
a four-five like Mike back
It was just a night
I was riding around,
I was riding in my car,
and I was just listening
to Michael Jackson interviews.
I wasn't listening to music.
I was just listening
to his interviews.
And I just came up
with this idea, like,
maybe I should do, uh, this
song and this instrumental
and just really mess
everybody head up
'cause I know they wouldn't
be expecting that
from a young artist.
Tell me, Annie, are you
okay? Screaming out, "No way"
Tell me, Annie,
are you okay?
'Cause I remember my grandma
had this same exact album.
My auntie, who was her daughter,
she was a big
Michael Jackson fan,
so she always had
us listening to him.
So I remember her
having this one exactly.
It's pretty wild.
It says how powerful the imagery
that Michael created was.
On Thriller,
his life was evolving, you know,
and his vocal approach
was different.
There's vocalists,
and there's stylists.
Style wins.
When you can hear a person sing
and recognize them fr-from
the first couple bars,
you know you got
something special.
They have a special tone,
a special voice, a
special delivery.
Now, Michael had all of that.
In just the way
he loved to dance
and-and he loved to perform,
he turned all of that melody
that he was so great with
into percussive melody.
Well, that's what he did.
He would sing drum parts.
He would sing bass lines.
He would, uh... all with
his rhythmic inflections.
We call it "drums
in your mouth."
He would beatbox. He was
an amazing beatboxer.
But beatbox with melody
and sing, you know,
not just beatboxing.
He would, you know,
integrate melody with it.
And you can hear it on
"Beat It," you know,
just the way he would
attack each syllable.
Just beat it, beat it
No one wants to be defeated
Showin' how funky,
strong is your fight
It doesn't matter
who's wrong or right
Just beat it
Beat it...
I think of all of his
melodies and his songs,
and they're
completely percussive.
I mean, they're incredibly
rhythmically hooky,
and, you know, all those songs,
and the songs that he wrote
have these very aggressive
staccato rhythms.
I feel like "Billie Jean" and
"Wanna Be Startin' Somethin',"
they're really short and stabby.
They're always, like...
there's a tiny bit of, like,
anger and, like, contempt
in the... in the...
in the way that he's
singing and writing.
I know I am someone
And let the truth unfurl
No one can hurt you now
Because you know what's true
Yes, I believe in me
So you believe in you
Help me sing it
The greatest soul singers are
not afraid to feel the music,
you know, just do what the
music tells them to do.
For all the new cats,
all the new-school cats
that are going on
record and ad-libbing,
and they say, like...
I'm sorry, Michael
did that first.
I'll prove it to you.
So beat it, just beat it
Beat it
Beat it
Why was he yawning
on a record, though?
It shows the freedom
and how comfortable
he felt in the studio
without worrying about
people's judgment
or, like, "Yo, what's that?"
Because you know he was
bringing the freaking skills.
You knew he was bringing
ultra talent and imagination,
for him to be like,
"You know what?
I feel like yawning right here."
Beat it
I-I don't know what that
one is. I don't know what...
I don't... but I love it.
And I'm listening
to his ad-libs.
He's doing all that...
He's doing all this
rhythmic stuff.
Michael had such
a clear vision
of what he wanted, and Quincy,
he knows who wanted to
work with each other.
There's a number
of things going on.
We have "Beat It,"
drums being done
by Jeff Porcaro at Sunset Sound;
Steve Lukather in
Studio B at Westlake;
Studio A, Quincy and Bruce.
Quincy's going back and
forth between A and B,
across the hallway.
Then you add the
E.T. storybook album,
and-and then... then
it's just a lot going on.
Quincy had become friends
with Steven Spielberg.
And I remember one day
he... Steven invited Quincy
down to the set when
he was working on E.T.
And, uh, E.T. was there,
and the guys who were operating
it at the time were there.
And I think somewhere
in the course of it,
Steven had said to
Quincy, said, "You know,
"I want to do a
rec... we should do
a record of some sort."
So Quincy, I think,
came to Michael and-and said,
"Steven wants us to do
the E.T. storybook album,"
where Michael would
narrate the story of E.T.
and Michael would write and
sing a song for the album.
And Michael was
a big fan, too,
so, "Quincy, let's do this."
So they started doing it in
the midst of doing Thriller.
I've always loved film, and, uh,
we're talking, in the
stage of doing, uh,
Quincy Jones and myself
and Steven Spielberg,
uh, working on a project.
The problem is nobody bothered
to call Walter Yetnikoff
and clear the rights
because the album was
going out on
Universal MCA's label.
I'll never forget, uh, one
day, I was at a-a meeting
and I get a call, so
I get on the phone
and Walter says, "Tell Michael
to stop kissing the monster."
"Walter, what are
you talking about?"
"Stop kissing the monster!"
So, if you look at the
E.T. storybook album,
Michael's got his
arm around E.T.
They're like pals, and that's
what Walter was talking about.
It wasn't just an album.
It was a whole box
set with posters
and a picture of
Michael with E.T.
So Walter filed an
injunction against,
uh, MCA and Universal
and made them take the
album out of the stores.
It was already shipped.
It was already a huge hit.
They had to pull the album back.
Epic wasn't happy, and
they felt it was sort of
holding up their record,
the-the Thriller record.
Yeah, they sued, you know.
"No, you can't have our
artist, da-da-da-da-da."
You know, and Walter
was litigious anyway,
and so he-he went...
he went in hard.
And MCA responded hard,
and it was, you know,
all hell broke loose.
And he said, "John,
is he mad at me?"
I said, "What do
you think, Walter?"
"You-you just sued him
and Steven Spielberg
and Quincy Jones,
and you wonder...
you're wondering if
he's mad at you?"
Uh, and he goes, "What
can I do to make it up?"
And I said, "You
give him the owner...
ownership of his
master recordings:
Off the Wall, Thriller
and everything to come."
And he said, "Done."
To get your masters back in
the middle of a contract,
I don't think had
ever, ever happened.
Rod came with his songs.
Michael had his songs.
And if those
worked, they worked.
If they didn't, they-they
went looking elsewhere.
I lost my heart
On the carousel
To a circus girl
Who left my heart
in pieces...
"Carousel" was a great song,
and fortunately or
unfortunately, you know,
there was only room on the album
for one mood like, uh,
"Carousel" or-or "Human Nature,"
and "Human Nature" was the
choice we had to make, you know.
Toto was big at that time.
Toto, who I just adored,
we worked together a lot,
and, um, they sent over
two demos that they thought
would be right for Michael,
and all of a sudden, there's...
at the end, there
was all this silence.
And then it said... it said...
Why, why?
And-and I tell you, I get...
I get goose bumps
just talking about it.
And I said, "What the
hell is that?" You know?
That's what took "Carousel" out.
I said, "This is
where we want to go,"
'cause it's got such a...
a-a wonderful flavor.
I'll tell you what.
Tonight, I want to do...
one of my favorite songs.
I touched her shoulder
She likes the way I stare
And they say, "Why?"
Everybody sing!
Tell them that
it's human nature
Why, why does he
do me that way?
The song that always haunts
me is "Human Nature."
- Um... Yeah.
- What a beautiful record.
That's-that's one of those
records that you just say,
"I wish I would've
did that record."
And that always,
for me, is the...
the test of if I love it or not.
I remember one
experience in the studio,
Rod Temperton, one of
the writers on the album,
and he said, "Michael, if
you only had three hits
off this album, would
you not be happy?"
I said, "I'd be very angry."
And they all started laughing.
I said, "I expect eight
hits off of this album.
Nine, all of 'em."
That is how I am. I'm sorry.
And my attitude was always
reaching out for more.
Never being satisfied.
And right at this very moment,
I'm on my fifth hit record.
Five. "Human Nature"
is number ten.
And I've broken a record that
has never been done before...
five hit songs for one album.
Always reaching out for more,
striving for excellence.
It's so engaging
because the idea
was to have something
for everyone.
There was a song that I didn't
really know too much about
that was called "Starlight,"
and it was a disco song
that Rod Temperton wrote.
You know, so it
really evolved from
this click here at 1:18.
And so, okay, we lay the
click down, and the idea was:
"Let's put it... let's
put a new version down.
Let's put some tracks down
and see where it goes."
So we-we started
with this drumbeat.
Four on the floor,
kind of dance song.
And then... backbeat.
Claps on the four.
And then the hi-hat
part was like this.
Five, six, seven, eight.
And then open hat.
There we go.
And then the cowbell.
Here we go.
So, another thing about
Michael and Quincy
is they like kind of like
a little bit of a
feel to the music.
So, this is straight time.
And then we add a little
bit of shuffle to it
so it just kind of pushes
it a little bit like that.
So it's in.
And then the bass line ended
up being kind of like a...
something I never
would have expected,
like a little bit of a
Latin rhythm, like...
Which sounded like a
conga line to me, but...
And there was the-the opening.
Just layering all the
parts to "Thriller"
was one of the most fun sessions
I've ever done in my life.
At 24, Michael had become more
than a master singer,
dancer, songwriter.
He was a super salesman
of his own mystique.
Michael's passion for world
conquest was singular.
He lived, breathed,
slept, dreamt and spoke
of nothing but
number one successes.
Thriller stayed
number one for months.
In the long period of its
unprecedented success, however,
when it occasionally fell to
second place for a week or two,
Michael panicked.
Hysterical, he'd berate me
for failing to pump
up the promotion.
"I'm pumping, Michael," I'd say.
"I promise you I'm pumping."
And I was.
After Thriller had sold
about three or four
million copies,
I got a call about 12 noon.
On the phone was the
record company saying,
"Hey, listen, if
you're not busy,
we need you to get
over here right now."
Michael was going to
be presented a-a plaque
for the-the Thriller record.
And we were wondering,
why were we waiting?
In came Jane Fonda.
I love Michael,
and I admire him.
He's the only person I
know that writes music
that you can dream
to and dance to
and love to and work out to.
And I do all of 'em to it.
Come here, Michael.
In retrospect, I know
exactly what he was doing.
He understood the
importance of having
a big white star
giving him this plaque.
Uh, Michael has a number one
single on the pop charts,
number one album
on the pop charts,
number one single on
the R and B charts,
number one album on
the R and B charts.
And I think that starts...
that's sort of an
historic record.
But I don't think
we understood
where it was gonna go until
the "Thriller" video came out.
As far as the record company
was concerned, the
album cycle was done.
They were thrilled
with whatever it sold,
and Michael said, "No, no,
we're gonna... we got more."
"Thriller," of all the
songs on the album,
uh, seems like you can do
much more video-wise...
no, movie-wise...
than any of the songs
'cause of the story
and all the visuals
and monsters and stuff.
And so I came up with an idea
of thinking that I
really want to change,
metamorphosis into
some other creature.
I... and I-I saw American
Werewolf In London.
I really liked it.
And-and I said, "Who's
the director who did it?"
And they said, "John
Landis, John Landis."
I said, "Great. That's
who we got to get."
So I said, "Get in
touch with him."
So I get this
call, and he says,
"Michael Jackson," and
I really thought...
"Little Michael Jackson
of The Jackson 5?"
I mean, I thought,
"He's a kid," you know?
And he told me he had
a song, "Thriller,"
and he wanted me
to make a video.
And I said, "Why?"
His brother showed
him on the bus
the tape of American Werewolf,
I think to scare him,
but he loved American
Werewolf in London.
And he was obviously fascinated
with Rick Baker's work.
And so he called me and said,
"I want to turn into a
monster. Will you do it?"
And the record label
wouldn't pay for it.
And, uh... and we
talked, and I said,
"Michael, you know, you
shouldn't pay for this.
You shouldn't pay
for it yourself."
And he said, "Branca,
figure it out."
Nobody wanted him to do this.
This was entirely his own thing.
And everybody else... his
people and the record company...
said, "Next album. Let's...
We've already... Michael, hello.
It's the most successful
album of all time. We want..."
So they thought
"Thriller" was outrageous.
Its budget was $1.2
million dollars.
That's at a time when the
average music video budget
was only $50,000 dollars.
So I went... I went back to the
office and thought about it.
And I thought up this
idea of a making-of.
Went to MTV and Showtime,
and-and Michael was the
biggest thing on the planet.
And I said, "We'll give you
a making of
Michael's next video.
We need a million two."
And they came back,
and they said yes.
We're trying to bring back
the motion picture shorts,
which we will do with,
uh... with "Thriller."
A lot of the videos... I
hate to use the word "video"
'cause I like to think of
it as a film, which it is...
we're doing a short film...
a lot of 'em are so terrible.
And I wanted "Thriller" and
"Beat It" to be a stimulant
for people to make better
videos or short films.
I really did, 'cause, I mean,
I love MTV, watching it.
You know, I think it's great,
but a lot of stuff I see,
I'm not so crazy about.
He wanted to turn into a...
at first, a-a wolf man,
like the werewolf in
American Werewolf.
His desire was to
turn into a monster
on camera.
We had the character turn into
a four-legged hound
from hell, a...
you know, a beast.
And Michael wanted to
do that, and I told him,
"Michael, it would
be so difficult
for you to dance with four legs,
you know, and for
the puppeteers.
So then it was gonna be
more of a traditional
wolf man character.
And Rick Baker did the first
design, and it was great
but truly terrifying.
And I said, "Aah!
Whatever we have him
turn into, he's got
to be attractive."
Scary but...
kind of cool and
elegant, you know?
So his second design, he
made him that "were-cat,"
and it's a much more
graceful design.
Are you all right?
Go away!
Michael Jackson was
a very slight person.
99 pounds soaking wet.
So, how do you develop
a presence on screen?
For "Thriller,"
you know, it was supposed to be
a satire of a
teenage horror film,
so he's in a letterman's jacket.
And then, with his red
jacket for that theater,
I was trying to create
a silhouette that was
sexy, masculine, impressive,
and... and gave him
weight on screen.
So, with Michael's fascination
with monsters, I said, "Well,
you'll become two monsters.
You'll become a werewolf,"
and then when we decided on
dancing zombies, a zombie.
Doesn't make sense,
but who cares?
You know, it's a fantasy.
And he really enjoyed the
process of the makeup,
and he really enjoyed
wearing the makeup.
Most actors hate
it, and he loved it.
He's so dynamic, Mike,
and he has such
power and such charm.
As I had seen it, just
looking at, you know,
"Can You Feel It"
and everything I saw,
it's like, "Why isn't
he being sexual?"
I mean, he's a rock star.
So one of the first
things for me was
I wanted a girl to make him sexy
and to also...
to be gaga in love with him.
The big eyes, you know.
And I saw over a
hundred actresses
and dancers and all
kinds of people.
And when Ola came in,
one, she was
desperate, desperate
to be with Michael Jackson,
and she was adorable.
Michael Jackson
isn't Michael Jackson
as a werewolf.
Michael Jackson is
another person
totally with the mask.
And I like, you know,
when he's so shy.
I have something I
want to tell you.
The only time I really
explained something to him,
I said, "You know, Michael,
I want you to know when you say,
'I'm not like other guys'..."
I'm not like other guys.
" will get a laugh."
And he was clueless. He said,
"Why would this get a laugh?"
I said, "Because you're
not like other guys."
But at least he was prepared,
'cause it got a huge laugh
and, uh... and so
he was in on it.
You know, I think he would have
been terribly upset otherwise.
From the beginning
of the film,
going to the theater,
then you're walking out,
and then Michael has
that cat-and-mouse sort of, uh,
walk that he's
doing with Ola Ray.
That's like an ode back to, uh,
classic, uh, musicals, right?
The cat-and-mouse chase.
Right? Th-Then, you
know, the-the man
playing up to the
woman and all that.
And it's a dolly shot.
And I said, "Mike, here's
what we're gonna do.
As long as Ola
could keep the beat,
you do those lyrics,
you can never be more than
this many feet away from her."
The big difference between
a costume designer and
a fashion designer is,
for us, it's all about
dramatic context.
So, where are they gonna be?
They're gonna be in an
alley and a movie theater.
And what are they doing?
They're on a date,
and Michael is gonna
be playful and be seductive.
She's dressed in blue.
She's cool.
She's relaxed. She's in jeans.
They did have a
leopard print on them,
but, you know, tight
jeans, little jacket.
She couldn't have been cuter.
I think, to the audience,
with what she's wearing
and her attitude,
she's sending off
every good vibe.
And I'll say, "Okay,
well, that was fine.
I don't want fine.
You're Michael Jackson,
so it has to be great.
Because if you can't be great,
why the fuck do I have
Michael Jackson here?"
So he goes, "Okay, John."
And he did the next take.
He was great! You know?
For you and I to cuddle
close together, yeah
All through the night
I'll save you from the
terror on the screen
I'll make you see...
Michael Peters and
Michael Jackson
came up with the choreography,
and it's fascinating
because the dancers were allowed
more rehearsal than usual.
At that point already,
Michael had established
certain moves,
so my first instruction to
Michael Peters was spooky,
and the second one was:
"I don't want any Michael move."
And they go into this
popping routine, right?
This goes back to the whole
thing of where Michael Jackson
crosses the technique and
the street world, right?
And he was so inspired by
popping and waving and all that
so that he had to
put them in the film.
How would a zombie dance?
And then looking at
it, and it was...
it just made a
lot of sense to me
that they weren't just locking
or they just weren't popping
or they just weren't
doing jazz dance.
The angles, the
lines were all...
demented and crooked, and it...
I'd just never seen
anything like that before.
'Cause this is thriller
Thriller night...
On those zombies,
those costumes were
just made of rags.
We call it aging,
distressing and dying.
Then, of course,
Rick Baker's work
was just masterful on everybody.
Thriller night
'Cause I can thrill you more
Than any ghoul
would ever dare try
This is a song about
watching a movie.
Yo. A Blockbuster night.
He made a whole movie.
He entertained us.
He gave us R and B,
he gave us horror,
he gave us sci-fi, but he
gave it all to us in music.
He-he was just a-amazing.
After the video came out,
it tripled its sales.
They sold six million of these.
This made MTV a powerhouse
and then created this
whole rock video business.
It was extraordinary.
And it's that moment when
the audience falls
madly in love,
that the audience
creates the icons.
He could write the songs.
He could produce them.
He could sing them.
He could perform like no other.
And he also was a fashion icon.
I've seen little tiny
kids in red jackets.
I've seen old grandpas
in red jackets.
I've seen girls in red jackets.
I've seen everybody
wearing that jacket.
It was huge worldwide.
They were buying the leather
jackets that Michael...
They were buying everything.
They were buying Michael
Jackson posters, calendars.
Looks so much like
Michael from head to toe
Put the mic in his hand
and he'll steal the show
I love you, Michael Jackson.
Michael Jackson!
Anything with
Michael Jackson on it
does continue to sell.
I work in a record
store, and it still
just flies out of
the store every week.
And we're talking about a record
that's a year and a half,
almost two years old,
and people are still
freaking out about it.
There have always
been fan clubs,
Michael's fans more
passionate than most.
This club calls
itself the P.Y.T.'s.
We love you! We
love you, Michael!
And if nothing else,
"Thriller" was always
gonna be played in
the month of October.
Like, there's this big
thing in Mexico that happens
where, I'll tell you, the-the...
every... people fly in for it.
They're all in their
costumes, and they do
the "Thriller" dance,
thousands of people.
And people are
still, you-you know,
dancing to this
song like it's...
like it was just
done, like the...
like the short film
just came out yesterday.
"Thriller," a long time coming.
Michael Jackson's "Thriller."
Probably the single
biggest video
for MTV ever.
After their
initial reluctance,
MTV became a huge supporter
of Michael Jackson,
especially the
"Thriller" short film.
They heavily promoted
the premiere.
At some point, it felt
like the "M" in MTV
stood for "Michael."
And everybody was talking about
how they were gonna cut school
to go home to watch
the "Thriller" video
because it was a twelve
o'clock world premiere on MTV.
And he was acting, he
was eating popcorn,
and then he turned
into a monster.
There's something about
music, I think, that has...
that triggers so many
different emotions in people,
so you're tapping
into all of that
to a larger and larger
and larger audience,
and it just exponentially grew.
So, the spring of '84,
the record's already out,
it's already selling
because Michael's now gone
from being a pop
star to a phenomenon.
The Guinness Book of World
Records is giving him
an award as the biggest-selling
album of all time.
It's a thriller
of a party tonight
for Michael Jackson at the
Museum of Natural History.
That's where Jackson's
being honored
for his album that's
broken all the records.
This was the payoff
for the fans tonight,
that momentary glimpse of
superstar Michael Jackson
with his date for the
evening, Brooke Shields.
Thriller, with 25
million copies sold,
was the best-selling album ever.
Today, we surpassed 25
million copies for Thriller.
Michael Jackson, the number
one artist in the world!
Thriller eclipsed them all.
At one point, the
damn thing was selling
a million copies a week.
Michael had become
a global obsession.
And just think, you
all came to see me.
No, I know why you're
here, and with good reason.
To see one of the most
talented, most popular
and most exciting superstars
in the music world today,
Michael Jackson.
Michael, welcome
to the White House.
But being with Michael
at that moment in time,
this is... "Thriller" is
now out on television.
And there was Michael
mania, you know.
He called me, and he said,
"Have you ever been
to Disney World?"
So the park was open, and there
were people walking around.
Here's Michael,
here's Mickey and me.
Suddenly, we look around,
and there are people
as far as you can see
in every direction...
behind us, in front
of us, around us...
and they're getting more
and more hysterical.
"Michael! Michael!"
And you see Mickey
Mouse is going like...
"Holy shit!
We're never getting out
of this alive!" You know?
You know, Thriller was
the biggest album in the world,
Michael was the biggest star,
and he wanted to go
out and tour Thriller.
But Joseph... you know,
uh, Mr. Jackson...
had other ideas.
He wanted to bring all
the family back together.
He brought in Don King
as the recommended
promoter of the tour.
And he got the brothers and
Mrs. Jackson, Katherine.
Everybody was all for it.
Michael was hesitant,
to be honest.
He felt like he had done
Thriller on his own,
and he wanted to tour
as a solo artist.
But he was persuaded
to go along with it.
This tour is a
bonanza of marketing,
so everybody wants
to get in on this.
And Quaker Oats, you know,
they had made a deal.
They had a tentative
deal with the Jacksons
to be the sponsors
of this thing.
And then Don King says, "Listen,
I've already made a deal.
I made it with Pepsi."
Michael was not
into the sponsorship
'cause he-he said,
"This isn't my thing.
I don't drink Pepsi. This
is all for my family."
And Michael did not want
to do the Pepsi deal.
You're a whole
new generation
You're loving what they do
Put a Pepsi into motion
And that choice is up
to you, hey, hey, hey
You're the Pepsi
'Cause he said to me,
"Okay, Branca, listen to me.
I got to do this 'cause
my family wants it,
but you have to write two
things in the contract.
I'm never holding a Pepsi can.
I can't be
on the screen for more
than three seconds."
So it's in the Pepsi contract,
no more than three seconds
and never holding a Pepsi can.
So if you ever watch
that commercial again,
you'll-you'll see.
It's interesting because
if Don King had not made
the deal with Pepsi,
Michael's hair wouldn't
have gotten burned.
I was actually at
the Pepsi commercial,
and I had an all-access pass.
When I arrived at the
Shrine Auditorium Downtown,
Michael and the
Jacksons were onstage
performing "Billie Jean."
The audience had been invited,
you know, and they
were told to scream
and the whole thing.
They didn't have to be
instructed to do that.
They were crazy about, you know,
seeing the Jacksons and
Michael there and...
They did a run-through, and
after they came offstage,
Michael was just in a great mood
and he was having
fun, fooling around.
And then they
called them back out
and said, "We're
gonna do this again."
And it went horribly wrong.
Filming the Pepsi commercial,
there was a big explosion.
You're the Pepsi Generation
Guzzle down...
And it burned Michael's scalp
very severely.
The audience didn't
know what was going on.
And when they took
Michael offstage,
I went backstage,
and it was just absolute chaos.
They put him in a stretcher...
you know, an
ambulance stretcher...
and they took him offstage
to a paramedic truck.
And Michael Jackson
was smart enough...
to be covered up,
but he had his glove out.
That was the photograph
that went around the world
of him with the glitter glove.
People were crying, you
know, in the audience.
And people were running
with the ambulance
as it was taking him away.
It was just an incredible thing.
When I got home, it
was all over the news.
Jackson was rushed to
a hospital last night
after suffering second-
and third-degree burns.
But his doctor said
the famous patient
was doing well.
He slept several
hours last night.
He was up watching TV at
approximately one o'clock.
He's comfortable this morning,
although he is continuing
to have discomfort
in the scalp area.
People don't realize
he had to go to emergency
treatment in a burn center,
and he was troubled by
the pain from that burn
for the rest of his life,
which led to pain pills and
whatnot to-to ease the pain.
Because he needed painkillers,
he was in pain,
life couldn't stop.
He had a book full of
things that he had to do.
You know, a schedule
that just could not stop.
The opening of the Victory Tour
in Kansas City was
a massive event.
It's at Arrowhead Stadium.
It's a giant football stadium.
- I love you, Michael.
- I love you, Michael.
I love you so much.
This is gonna be the best
concert of the century.
- Don't you think?
- Definitely.
I have to ask Michael
Jackson to marry me today.
We would do about anything
to see Michael Jackson.
You're looking at
a sneak preview
of what is perhaps
the most controversial
rock concert tour in history,
the Jacksons' Victory Tour,
opening tonight in Kansas City.
I said you wanna be
startin' somethin'
You got to be
startin' somethin'
I said you wanna be
startin' somethin'
You got to be
startin' somethin'
- Too high to get over
- Yeah, yeah
Too low to get under
- Yeah, yeah
- You're stuck in the middle
- Yeah, yeah
- And the pain is thunder
- Too high to get over
- Yeah, yeah
Too low to get under
- Yeah, yeah
- You're stuck in the middle
- Yeah, yeah
- And the pain is thunder
I took my baby to the doctor
With a fever, but
nothin' he found
By the time this
hit the street
They said she
had a breakdown
Someone's always tryin'
To start my baby cryin'
Talkin', squealin', lyin'
Sayin' you just want to
be startin' somethin'
I said you wanna be
startin' somethin'
You got to be
startin' somethin'
I said you wanna be
startin' somethin'
Where did you
come from, lady?
The Victory Tour sold
out in Kansas City.
Then it was on to
Dallas, Jacksonville,
New Jersey, New
York and Knoxville.
It's currently scheduled
in some 13 cities
with more sites yet
to be announced.
Preparations are
well underway tonight
for the Jacksons'
Victory Tour concert.
The Jacksons' massive
stage was beginning
to take shape as
early as Thursday.
There's not too many places
that you can stick a
monstrous stage like this.
Most of the performances,
more than 50 in all,
will be in stadiums
like the Silverdome.
Pretty young thing
- You need some loving
Tender lovin' care
And I'll take
you there, girl
Ooh-ooh, I want
to love you...
The shows of the Victory Tour
were much more
mainstream America,
and that was a testament to
how big Michael had become
and to the penetration
of the album.
The irony of Thriller is that
there was never a
tour solely dedicated
to the biggest LP of all time.
The Victory Tour was a mix
of vintage Jackson family
music and hits from Thriller.
But it was the Thriller material
that turned the crowd
out every night.
Hee! Hoo!
She says I am the one
But the kid is not my son
No, no, no
Billie Jean is not my lover
She's just a girl who
claims that I am the one
But the kid is not my son
She says I am the one
You know you ain't
Not my lover
- You know you can't
- Not my lover
Because you are
Not my lover
'Cause you're a silly girl
Not my lover
Billie Jean is not my lover
Billie Jean is
not my lover
Billie Jean is not my lover
Billie Jean is
not my lover
Billie Jean is not my lover
Billie Jean is not my lover
Michael has been
nominated for 12...
12 1983 Grammy Awards.
The highest number in history.
So we went to the 1984 Grammys
at the Shrine Auditorium.
I didn't get the
feeling he was nervous.
I actually got the feeling that
he was excited.
And I don't think I had any idea
even the magnitude of it.
Keep on with the
force, don't stop
Don't stop till you
get enough, keep on...
Michael Jackson was nominated
for 12 Grammys overall,
including Album of the Year
and Record of the Year.
And I feel on fire
Ain't nothin'...
The Record of the Year is...
"Beat It," Michael Jackson.
For Album of the Year...
The winner is...
Oh, sensation
Lovely where we're at...
Best Pop Vocal Performance,
Male: Michael Jackson.
I made a deal with
myself, if I win more...
one more award,
which is this award,
which is seven,
which is a record,
I would take off my glasses.
Ooh, keep on with
the force, don't stop
Don't stop till
you get enough
Keep on with the
force, don't stop
Don't stop till
you get enough
Keep on with the
force, don't stop...
He deserved it.
You know, it was... it was due.
Don't stop till
you get enough
In February 1984,
between Michael and Quincy,
Thriller won a dozen Grammys.
Well, as we know, Thriller is
a huge, huge
success... the album...
but, uh...
the joy of doing
something phenomenal
'cause everybody waiting
to see the next big,
you know, Michael Jackson short.
And I thought "Thriller"
was the perfect vehicle.
- We're gonna come out.
- No.
- No one's gonna like it.
- No, no, no, no, no.
But 40 years from
now, Michael...
My part will be.
I don't know about you.
All right, and stop.
Who's your biggest inspiration?
Who inspired you the most?
Michael Jackson.
Michael saw that he could
touch greatness
with Off the Wall,
knew he was still going
against racist radio
and people that wanted
to put him in a box.
But you have to be so
in the rarefied air,
.0001%, to even be able to,
like, project yourself to that.
That idea that I can take
dance music and visuals
and turn the world on its ear,
that idea that he crystallized
in "Thriller"... not going away,
and I don't think it's
ever gonna go away.
So, whether it was
"Human Nature" and
his amazing voice,
you know, "Beat
It" and looking at
the references that were
there, because every time
you saw a video, you
got a new idea of, like,
who he was as an artist
and what he was selling.
Right? There was his hair and
his clothing, his wardrobe.
All of those things were
informing the culture.
He was establishing
the standard.
Man, there has never
been anything like that.
Michael Jackson's Thriller.
What's the problem?
Come on, I'll take you home.
They told him, "Don't
you ever come around here
Don't wanna see your face,
you better disappear"
The fire's in their eyes and
their words are really clear
So beat it, just beat it
You better run, you
better do what you can
Don't wanna see no blood,
don't be a macho man
You wanna be tough,
better do what you can
So beat it
But you wanna be bad
- Just beat it, beat it
- Beat it, beat it
No one wants to be defeated
Showin' how funky and
strong is your fight
It doesn't matter
who's wrong or right
- Just beat it, just beat it
- Beat it, beat it
Just beat it
- Beat it, beat it, uh!
- Just beat it
They're out to get you,
better leave while you can
Don't wanna be a boy,
you wanna be a man
You wanna stay alive,
better do what you can
So beat it, just beat it
You have to show them that
you're really not scared
You're playin' with your life,
this ain't no truth or dare
They'll kick you,
then they'll beat you
Then they'll tell you
it's fair, so beat it
But you wanna be bad
- Just beat it, beat it
- Beat it, beat it
No one wants to be defeated
Showin' how funky and
strong is your fight
It doesn't matter
who's wrong or right
- Just beat it, beat it
- Beat it, beat it
No one wants to be defeated
Showin' how funky and
strong is your fight
It doesn't matter
who's wrong or right
Just beat it, beat
it, beat it, beat it
Beat it, beat it, beat it
Beat it, beat it, beat it
Beat it, beat it, beat it
Beat it, beat it, beat it
- Beat it, beat it
- Beat it, beat it
No one wants to be defeated
Showin' how funky and
strong is your fight
It doesn't matter
who's wrong or right
- Just beat it, beat it
- Beat it, beat it
No one wants to be
defeated, oh, Lord
Showin' how funky and
strong is your fight
It doesn't matter
who's wrong or right
- Just beat it, beat it
- Beat it, beat it
No one wants to be
defeated, oh, no
Showin' how funky and
strong is your fight
It doesn't matter