Before he passed away this summer, Michael Jackson was hard at work on a concert series he hoped would spark a new comeback for his career. As part of an agreement with the company helping make that dream a reality, hundreds of hours of rehearsal footage was shot of the King of Pop performing, organizing, and directing behind-the-scenes. This glimpse of what might have been has now been turned into a documentary titled This Is It.
With the flick hitting theaters this weekend, early reviews have bordered on the positive. Most have praised the work for pulling back the curtain on Jackson and showing a human side to the performer. “We see a talented singer-dancer fine-tuning an extravaganza, and in so doing we are reminded that, behind all the tabloid craziness and larger-than-life eccentricities, there was still an artist and a person,” said MSNBC’s Alonso Duralde.
No surprise to us, Jackson was also planning on incorporating some environmental themes into the concerts. In particular, for the song “Heal The World”, there’s a filmed sequence that was to play in the background showing the destruction of the Rainforests. We’ve seen such imagery before in Jackson’s “Earth Song” video, — but it appears that he was extending that theme to “Heal” as well. Last week, famed primatologist Jane Goodall said Jackson was inspired to write the song because of the plight of chimpanzees. From the article,
“He wrote what he told me he thought was his most powerful song ever, but it didn’t end up for animals,” Jane Goodall said in a CNN interview Thursday night. “I said to him, ‘You know, Michael, if you want to help, you could do a concert and give us a percentage. Or much better, write a song,’ ” she said. Jackson asked her for tapes of animals in distress because “he wanted to be angry and cry” as he wrote the song, which became “Heal the World,” she said. The original CD cover notes credited Goodall for inspiring the song, she said. But, she added, the Jane Goodall Institute never saw any money from the song.
Considering that Jackson was extremely generous with donations throughout his career, it’s rather odd that Goodall’s foundation never saw any. Perhaps Michael thought he could make more of a difference in other ways.