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The Global Film Village: BACK STAGE WITH MICHAEL JACKSON by Marla Lewin

In Tribute to an Artist


Years ago in Chicago when Michael was performing  with his brothers as The Jackson 5, his parents were buying custom jewelry designs from my mother who was an artist. These were pieces they would be wearing in their shows.  


All the boys seemed very into sports at that time. During the days they would be working out prior to performing at night.  I remember hearing reports of fans, mostly girls, always in crowds waiting outside Michael's door. I was invited to one of his shows, and a Rolls Royce was sent to pick me up.  


Back stage, the family was assembled, and their was lots of favorite foods, including grits and greens.  Michael was smiling, friendly and asked if I would like to play 52 pickup. I didn't know the game, and then he dropped the cards and had a big puckish smile.  He thought it was very funny.  


I felt privileged to be invited into what appeared to be a very private world, I was allowed to be part of this family experience and lifestyle.  There was something very personal about the private time of such public figures. There was something innocent and childlike about Michael then and later. 


I always felt he had a gentle, other worldly spirit. Unlike other children he had to deal with fame and fans everywhere at all times. What he did had great value for him and the people who came to see him. In the midst of all this excitement of being on stage in front of millions of people all around the world Michael still had to have his childhood. His mother was always there for him. 


Fans everywhere cheered and loved him. But he was still a little boy.Yes, he was loved. He was envied. He was desired. He was such an icon at that point at such a young age. He was so revered by the masses. It must have seemed hard for him to appear human with all of this going on around him.  


He was then and is still now even in death a money machine.  The press and the world have responded to his untimely death with almost constant attention. He was missing from public view for many years. His was an abstract adulthood, worshipped but overwhelmed if he journeyed out into public. 


He was always looking for the man in his and our mirror. He lived in reflected memories of a time of innocence of our collective memory. It was a time when we all believed in innocence, and trusted our culture and society to fulfill our dreams.  Sometimes mirrors are broken or distorted. Sometimes images get twisted like in a fun house mirror. Michael was then and even now remains bigger than life. Now we only have his music and we must try to cover the pain of our loss.  


I am glad I got to meet Michael, I know he liked to play games, and had a sense of humor. His music and  dance will be eternal. He transformed an era.

It is a shame there was so little time for him both in life and the living of it.


Years later at a benefit/auction in Hollywood featuring Tom Cruise, we bid and won a book on Michael Jackson called American Master.  It came with two cd's, "Blood on the Dance-floor," and "Will You Be There?"  On the back of the book is a big M along with the quote, "What one wishes is to be touched by Truth...This is art in the highest art form." That is what I will remember of Michael. A young boy who spent his entire life trying to be true to his art and his dreams.



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About MarlaLewinGFV

Lewin Marla
(Global Film Village)

Marla is a producer, playwright, screenwriter, publicist and now a journalist. She attends 12 to 20 film festivals per year. She has spoken on filmmaking at many festivals including Cannes and SXSW.


Los Angeles

United States

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