'Bad 25': Michael Jackson celebrated on Thanksgiving by Spike Lee and ABC
Call it one entertainment icon's tribute to another.
Fri 11/23 6:00 AM EDT (TVOne)
When Michael Jackson's
classic release "Bad"
debuted in 1987, Spike Lee's
career was just starting to take hold. The director pays tribute to the
fifth-best-selling album of all time -- which yielded such singles as
the title cut, "Man in the Mirror," "The Way You Make Me Feel," "Smooth Criminal"
and "I Just Can't Stop Loving You"
-- in the documentary "Bad 25,"
which ABC gives a Thanksgiving night television premiere Thursday, Nov. 22.
Lee interviews such other Jackson collaborators as fellow moviemakers Martin Scorsese
and Joe Pytka
creating a remembrance of how "Bad" came to be, utilizing archival
footage that also recalls the global concert tour Jackson launched in
support of the album. Results included sales of approximately 45 million
copies and five chart-topping singles, a record tied only relatively
recently by Katy Perry's "Teenage Dream."
"Do the Right Thing," "Jungle Fever"
and "Malcolm X"
maker Lee recently took a break from his New Orleans filming of what he
calls a "reinterpretation" of the South Korean melodrama "Oldboy"
(starring Josh Brolin
and Samuel L. Jackson
) to speak with Zap2it
about the making of "Bad 25" and his personal ties to Jackson.
Zap2it: How long had it been in your mind that "Bad" was coming up on its 25th anniversary?
Spike Lee: The original plan was to do [a commemorative documentary on Jackson's album] "Thriller," but
the Jackson estate said, "Let's wait on that, and let's do this." It
was in conjunction with Sony, a whole big plan to remaster and
re-release the album.
Zap2it: Did your personal connection to Michael Jackson make the making of "Bad 25" either easier or harder for you?
It makes it easier as a filmmaker. I know the subject matter, and I
know all the music. I was born in 1957, Michael was born in 1958, and Prince
also was born in 1958. Who knew we'd all grow up together? I was in
Brooklyn, Michael was in Gary [Ind.], and Prince was in Minnesota ...
and it's amazing I got to work with them. And with Stevie Wonder, too.
Zap2it: How much say did the Jackson estate have in what you did with "Bad 25"?
Spike Lee: They
had their opinions, and the studio (Sony) had opinions, too. [Those
affected the filmmaking] not at all, not at all. They are the ones who
chose me for this, so we have a great relationship.
Zap2it: Did you put a lot of thought into whether to do the project?
When they asked me, I said "Yes" right away. I didn't have to blink. I
like challenges, but I also love what I do. I don't really even consider
it work. To me, it's a joy and a treat to do something like this.
Michael was, is, and always will be a part of my life -- and I also know
how much he meant to the world. There's been a phenomenal response to
the film all over the world.
Zap2it: You directed Michael in the music video "They Don't Care About Us." How was that experience?
If I wanted to do something 100 times, he wanted to do whatever he had
to do to make it perfect. He wanted to do art that would last a long
while. He never called videos "music videos," he called them "short
Zap2it: When did you first meet him?
The first time was at a dinner in New York where he was honored, and he
got the award at the Waldorf-Astoria. To be honest, there was something
like a million people there, so we just had a drink, and that was it.
Are you pleased with the way "Bad 25" is being unveiled to the public,
with the ABC television broadcast coming on the heels of showings at
such film festivals as Venice and Toronto, then a limited theatrical
Spike Lee: I didn't know what was going to happen. I was just trying to make the best film I could.
Zap2it: In making "Bad 25," you handled some of Michael's work with other directors, including Martin Scorsese. How was that process for you?
Spike Lee: Oh, it was great. It was a wonderful experience having Marty and Thelma [Schoonmaker,
the longtime editor of Scorsese's films] sit down in front of an
editing machine and watch it. They hadn't seen that footage in 25 years.
I know Marty very well, so we had a lot of fun doing that.