The Michael Jackson all-star memorial concert at the Staples Center was so riveting I expected Michael to pop out of the shiny, silver coffin and do one last moonwalk. Janet and LaToya really turned it out fashionwise (and dignity-wise); old-time Motown legends like Berry Gordy, Stevie Wonder, and Smokey Robinson added class and talent; and if it was a little jarring to see an accused rapist onstage (Kobe Bryant) and a reforming girlfriend kicker in the crowd (Chris Brown), that’s showbiz, kids.
Jennifer Hudson tesified with her singinging and was fabulous, though she was surrounded by cruise-ship-style dancers signing and doing circle dances as if in one of those old Academy Awards production numbers. And though I enjoyed Magic’s story about how Michael loved KFC, it seemed like the biggest free product placement in history; they should shower him with buckets through eternity. Not surprisingly, some of the other testimonials seemed like whitewashes, as it were, exclusively painting Jackson as a Christlike figure and eternal victim. Brooke Shields particularly meant well, but she seemed to be doing an actorly exercise, saving the biggest waterworks for the end of her speech. (At least she was smart enough not to suggest there was anything more than a fun friendship between them. The two understandably shared a whole lot of laughs.)
As the event wound down, Shaheen Jaforghal from Britain’s Got Talent came out gave a starmaking performance that made you glad they didn’t book Susan Boyle. And then came the family, one of the Jacksons bringing the affair to a whole new macabre level by saying his dead twin in heaven should now get a hug from Michael. (Before that, Stevie Wonder had said Michael died because God needed him up there. That should end all speculation as to exactly what happened.)
And now, the important thing: A British paper reports that Tippi Hedren told two of Michael’s old animal friends–the tigers–that their daddy had passed on. Pray for them.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on July 7, 2009