I have a few stars to share before the holidays. The first twinkler is a Michael Jackson tribute at the Carnival Rio de Janeiro (2010). In the video below, a pod suddenly appears at the front of the float which contains a Michael impersonator. The side screens are showing Michael and Janet’s ‘Scream‘ video and the portait on the back contained the inscription “Michael vive em cada estrela. Deus te abençoe.“, which means: “Michael is alive in each star. God bless you.“. If you remember, the song ‘They Don’t Care About Us‘ was filmed in Rio, in favela Dona Marta, after much resistance from the state government at the time. It turned out though, that in 2009, Billboard described the area as “now a model for social development” and stated that Michael’s influence was partially responsible for this improvement. So his filming the video for the song there was of great benefit, not detriment, as state authorities feared.
Back of the float:
If you haven’t seen the complete video Barry Gibb released on December 19th of he and Michael recording “All In Your Name” at Middle Ear Studios in December 2002, you must watch:
We didn’t have any deep and meaningful conversations or anything, but he is very sweet. I don’t want to hear any bad things about him anymore! -Kim Wilde
In April 1988 our office received a phone call from Barry Clayman Concerts asking if I would like to join Michael as opening act on his BAD Tour, due to start that May. This was incredible news and I could hardly believe that I would be appearing on the same stage for 5 months with the greatest pop performer of my generation.
The tour coincided with the release of my album, ‘Close’, and undoubtedly helped it towards sales of 2 million, with 4 big hits including ‘You came’. In fact the video for ‘You came’ (which was shot in front of the Reichstag and adjacent to the Berlin wall, historically pulled down just over a year later) included a typically ecstatic and excitable BAD Tour crowd. Incredible! Many times I was able to watch Michael from the side of the stage with his then manager, Frankie DiLeo, as he blew the audience away with his unique dancing skills, wonderful music and beautiful voice.
I am always asked if I met him, which in fact I did only once, about 3 weeks into the 5 month tour. I was escorted to his dressing room at the Olympic Stadium in Munich and briefly introduced to Michael, as the official photographer positioned us side by side, snapped a shot, and then it was all over. There was no opportunity to chat – even for a few minutes – and as I turned to say goodbye to this fragile looking yet unexpectedly tall man I asked him to take care of himself… I wish he had.
When I was told of the death of Michael Jackson I couldn’t really take it in; this was late in the evening on Thursday 25th June. By the time Friday morning came around I could feel a deep and gnawing sadness growing inside me that has stayed with me since. Whenever his name is mentioned, or his music played I am transported back to a magical time in my life, and I smile a little, and sometimes wipe away a tear. RIP The King of Pop.
Kim Wilde from an interview Published in: Hitkrant (Netherlands), October 15, 1988:
Although Kim Wilde toured with Michael Jackson for months she just met him twice. ‘We didn’t have any deep and meaningful conversations or anything, but he is very sweet. I don’t want to hear any bad things about him anymore! It’s too weird that there were even rumours that we were having an affair. Yes, we respect each other but that’s as far as it goes. I’ve only talked to him twice!‘
What were those talks about, then?
He told me that he felt I was doing great, and that he was looking forward to the successful tour. And he asked whether I was still enjoying it. And I was!
What impression did you get of him?
He’s very normal, very smart, very sweet and very sympathetic. And what’s the most important thing: he’s got a very sweet smile. You can tell a lot of things from the way someone smiles.
And what did you think of his show?
It’s great to watch the show from beside the stage! When you look from the audience everything seems to go automatically, but from the side you can see how much work is in it. And it’s hard to tell how he does his tricks. I knew that he would go into a tent and then appear on the other side of the stage, but I looked very close and still couldn’t tell how he did it.
Isn’t it a bit of ungrateful work, doing a support act? The audiences come for the headline act, after all.
Yes, that’s true. And you’re playing when there’s still daylight, and then people can only see a few small figures on stage. But I wouldn’t have missed it for the world. It’s the only tour that Michael has done in his life, and it most likely will stay that way. It’s a historic fact, and hundreds of thousands have come to see it. Taylor (Dayne, who did the support for another part of the tour, ed.) and I were there as well. They can’t ever take that away from me. But it’s time I will be the headline act myself soon!
Debbie with Endorexpress on the reopening of Captain EO in 2010:
EndorExpress: Being that Captain EO was a Disney project, there was a lot of merchandise sold during the original release. Do you have any of those old Idy & Ody toys?
Debbie: I gave them to my nieces! But I saved my security pass that Michael had signed and I’ve got some of the original cast & crew sheets and things like that. I saved a lot of things. One thing that is very special to me is a storyboard from Captain EO that Michael had signed.
EndorExpress: That is amazing! Now, I’m sure you’re eager to see Captain EO again as we all are. Do you have a favorite memory from working on this project?
Debbie: It was all just mind boggling and unforgettable. I mean, I remember the first day at the table read sitting around on the studio lot with Francis [Ford Coppola] and Angelica [Huston], Tony Cox (Hooter), and Cindy waiting for Michael Jackson to arrive. All of a sudden he shows up coming through the giant stage doors with his glasses, his glove… and he came in. Francis went around the room and introduced everybody. Michael was painfully shy! Very surprising.
Francis would say, “Debbie, this is Michael.” “Michael, this is Debbie Lee Carrington.” He [Michael Jackson] would look down and say, “Pleased to meet you.” Just having him walk in the door with that first impression, with the light behind him, it was just amazing. And then the process of getting to know Michael and really sharing moments and seeing him dance – the whole THING was one of the most amazing jobs I’ve ever done.
EndorExpress: And I think being a part of his ‘crew’ really added to that.
Debbie: Oh yes! Part of his crew. Captain EO was our boss so we were very close with Michael. It was all very fun. When Michael would dance, you know, that was a whole other thing. He would snap into another person and it was just so magical and impressive. You’d get chills watching him dance.
Carrington had a speaking role and a distinctive costume for EO:
“I’m half of the three-legged, two-headed character called the geex,” Carrington says. “We are the navigator and the pilot for Michael Jackson, who is Captain EO.”
She says a body cast was made for her and another actor while they were lying down and “connected” at the hip. From there, a harness was made to keep them together while in the furry costume.
“It wasn’t very comfortable,” Carrington says. “It was actually quite challenging to coordinate and walk together with the other actor because we had to act as one.”
Director Francis Ford Coppola spent the first part of the rehearsal period with the cast, including Jackson and Anjelica Huston, doing improvs. The purpose was to get them to open up to one another and act like a team, just like in EO, Carrington says.
“Michael came out of his shell after the first day,” she says. That led to a fun, playful environment on the set, complete with practical jokes, Carrington says.
Both Collette and Carrington saw Captain EO for the first time in many years when the film came back to Disneyland earlier this year in California.
Carrington has continued in the entertainment industry with acting work and stunt jobs. She says that she and Jackson remained friendly and, although he invited her to his house, she never went.
“Looking back, I wish I had,” she says. “I always thought ‘Well, we’ll work together, we’ll see each other again at another time.’ Unfortunately, it never happened. Then we lose him and you realize the permanence of that.”
If you have not seen the interview that MJJCommunity has done with Dr. Steven Shafer from the Murray trial, you must. Dr. Shafer is articulate, responsible, caring, honest – all the things we know a good doctor should be. You will see that in his generous answers to fans’ questions. Dr. Shafer answered a whopping 86 questions from fans in this 3-part interview:
MJJC: Since your father passed away during the trial, was it hard to do the testimony? (and please accept our most sincere condolences for your loss)
Dr. Steve Shafer: I’ve shared with some members of the MJJCommunity my personal story about my father’s passing. I’ll spare you the details, other than to say that for me, the trial brought me an unexpected gift: the chance to be with my father when he died. Had it not been for the trial, I would have been in New Jersey. As it was, I was at his bedside, offering love and morphine. (I can only hope that one of my kids decides to take up a career in anesthesia.)
During my testimony, I felt that my father was beside me. It gave me confidence, particularly during cross examination. I knew that since my Dad was with me, I’d be OK.
MJJC: Did media approach you for interviews? If yes, why didn’t we see you on TV?
Dr. Steve Shafer: Yes, I was approached, but I don’t think the interviews were aired. I think the reason is that they didn’t like my answers. I was asked about what I thought Conrad Murray’s sentence should be. I answered honestly that I didn’t have the background to judge that. I said that our lawmakers determine the appropriate sentences for criminal behavior, and judges then impose sentences based on the dictates of the law. I said that this was really a question for Judge Pastor, who IS an expert. I don’t think they liked that answer. They probably hoped for something much more vengeful from me.
I was asked how I felt about my role in convicting Conrad Murray. I honestly replied that I don’t think I had much of a role. Conrad Murray gave Michael Jackson propofol in a bedroom, with no training, no monitoring, no backup, no accountability, abandoned him to talk on the phone, and then lied about his action. His guilt was obvious when the facts emerged in 2009, and it just as obvious after my testimony.
MJJC: Lots of hyperbole has been made of the IV tubing/matching/non matching. Could you explain in detail once more (with no defense attorney interrupting) why this has no bearing on the statements made by you?
Dr. Steve Shafer: I initially believed that the IV tubing that Conrad Murray purchased in large quantities from Sea Coast Medical was non-vented, because I did not see the vent in the picture taken by the medical examiner, no vent is described in the product description from Sea Coast Medical, and I was unsuccessful in my initial effort to purchase the tubing from Sea Coast Medical. It turns out that it was vented, which I only realized after I physically examined the tubing in court.
However, the fact that the smaller infusion set was vented only increases the ease with which Conrad Murray set up the infusion, and the ease of concealing the tubing set on the day Michael Jackson died.
However, it still comes back to the big picture: Conrad Murray was giving Michael Jackson an anesthetic drug in his bedroom with inadequate training, inadequate monitoring, and no backup. That is why Michael Jackson died. None of these issues changes the big picture.
MJJC: While watching the trial it felt like there’s an animosity or fall out between you and Dr. White. Are we correct about this? If yes did this fall out stem from the events of the trial or is there a history to this?
Dr. Steve Shafer: Paul has been a friend for nearly three decades. The Paul White you saw on television was not the Paul White that I have known since medical school. He has made many contributions to our specialty. It is my hope that his contributions are his permanent legacy, not his defense of Conrad Murray.
Paul has been a cherished mentor since I was medical student. I was not his “student” as Chernoff stated, and I did not appreciate the implication that Paul taught me what I knew about propofol. However, Paul has given me counsel on everything from medical school to romance. I was expecting Chernoff to ask “Hasn’t Dr. White been a mentor to you?” I was ready to say “yes”.
MJJC: What did you think of Dr. White’s testimony and his behavior? Did anything he said change your opinion about your colleague? Were you surprised by the things he said and things he did (such as his comments to the media) or didn’t do (such as not doing his own charts, not overseeing the Beagle experiment)?
Dr. Steve Shafer: There were factual errors in Paul’s testimony. Paul is capable of outstanding scholarship. I don’t know the dynamics of his relationship to the defense team that led to him not doing the heavy lifting that he usually does when it comes to checking the literature. I wish he had contacted me in advance. I would have been happy to help him review the literature and explain the science.
The different approaches of science and law to discerning the truth failed Paul. If this had been an argument over a scientific manuscript, Paul and I would have spoken directly, without attorneys trying to discredit either one of us. We would have lined up papers, and arguments, and “duked it out” by e-mail, or perhaps over an extended lunch at one of our favorite Mexican restaurants. That would have worked and the science would be right (at least as “right” as we could get it). There would be no adverse consequences for either of us. As scientists collaborating to “get it right” we would have done well. The criminal justice system isn’t set up to allow scientists representing opposing sides to collaborate in an effort to find the truth.
MJJC: What are your thoughts on Murray as a doctor?
Dr. Steve Shafer: I believe he violated the fundamental trust between doctors and patients, and that he did so not in an isolated incident under duress, but intentionally and repeatedly. That is not something a doctor would do.
MJJC: According to Walgren’s words during closing arguments “we don’t know whether Michael awoke, yelled for help and choke while Conrad Murray wasn’t in his bedroom, and we’ll never know” and to Alberto Alvarez testimony that Michael’s eyes and mouth were wide open, I want to ask you: could Michael suffered before death and could he really yelled for help and choke while dying? And if no, why his eyes /mouth were open if he died sleeping?
Dr. Steve Shafer: Michael Jackson did not suffer. He died because he stopped breathing. He was unconscious at the time. If he had been conscious, he would have been breathing.
It doesn’t mean anything if a patient’s eyes or mouth are open or closed after death. I witnessed my own father’s death during the time I was testifying. I was at his bedside. He was in and out of consciousness for about two hours before his death. My last communication from him, an “OK” sign with his hand, was about an hour before his death. After he died, I noted that his eyes and mouth were both open. I closed them.
MJJC: Do you think the medical community has learned from Michael’s death in regards over prescribing to a powerful wealthy person and wrong doing by a doctor?
Dr. Steve Shafer: Absolutely. I mentioned this above. I am aware of this because I occasionally see this in my practice. Doctors serve patients by acting as doctors. That is a message for doctors and patients alike.
MJJC: Can you explain “Propofol lollipop” a little more?
Dr. Steve Shafer: Propofol absorbed from the stomach never reaches the brain, because it is all removed by the liver. However, the blood supply to the mouth and esophagus (above the diaphragm) does not return directly to the liver. Instead, it just goes to the heart, and from there goes everywhere including the brain. So a propofol lollipop would provide propofol to the venous blood, and from there to the brain. Paul White and I discussed this at one of the breaks prior to his testimony. It is a reasonable idea, provided the dose was adequately controlled.
Should this ever become available, then I would reconsider my position on classifying propofol as a controlled substance. My current view is highly influenced by the fact that it only works when given intravenously, and that really burns!
MJJC: What does Propofol taste like?
Dr. Steve Shafer: It has the consistency of skim milk, and tastes like a very medicinal salad dressing.
MJJC: In your opinion, does Demerol aggravate insomnia as a side effect? Did it play any part in Michael’s physical and mental health? What was the best treatment for Michael’s insomnia?
Dr. Steve Shafer: There are three questions here. I’ll answer them in order:
Demerol’s chemical name in the United States is “meperidine.” In many countries it is known as “pethidine.” Meperidine has a metabolite, “normeperidine”, that is a nervous system stimulant. As a nervous stimulant, I would expect it to exacerbate insomnia.
The coroner examined both blood and urine for meperidine (Demerol) and normeperidine. Neither could be detected. Thus, meperidine did not play a direct role in Michael Jackson’s death on June 25th. However, you asked a more general question about “play any part in Michael’s physical and mental health.” It is a good question, and I will again need to apologize for not answering it. I have not read Dr. Klein’s medical records or heard a detailed explanation of Michael Jackson’s care. I am uncomfortable speculating without that information.
Sleep disorders are complex, and treating them is a specialized branch of medicine. It is my understanding that any drug that affects the level of consciousness can exacerbate sleep disorders. There is a nice description of sleep disorders, and the treatment of common sleep disorders, at http://www.sleepfoundation.org/artic…s-and-insomnia.
MJJC: Anything you want to say to the members of MJJCommunity and Michael Jackson fans in general.
Dr. Steve Shafer: Once your questions about Michael Jackson’s tragic death have been answered, I encourage you to set it aside. Conrad Murray has been convicted. We have a reasonable understanding of what happened. It’s time to return to the bonds that brought the MJJCommunity together in the first place: your celebration of Michael Jackson’s life, his message, and his music.
I appreciate the opportunity to address your questions, and hope that the answers are helpful to the MJJCommunity.
PLEASE visit each part of this important Q & A for many more detailed, honest answers from Dr. Shafer. He has been very generous in answering all fans’ questions about what happened to Michael and is obviously very qualified to do so. Dr. Shafer is a doctor who operates and practices with meticulous integrity and care, and he is obviously 180-degrees opposite of a “doctor” like Murray. I can’t think of a clearer contrast between a great doctor (Shafer), and a very bad one (Murray).