Oct 07 2010

Michael was Executive Producer of an award-winning musical, yet turned down by J.K. Rowling

Category: Photos,Quotes About MJSeven @ 8:10 am




On March 8, 1996, the musical “Sisterella” premiered at the Pasadena Playhouse in Pasadena, CA. Michael Jackson was co-executive director and had invested in the play.

If you’ve never heard of ‘Sisterella‘, maybe you should check it out. ‘Sisterella’ is a pop-rock rendition of Cinderella. You won’t see any glass slippers in the musical, but you will see a wicked stepmother who tries to steal the fortune her late husband left for her daughter. Michael was the Executive Producer (along with Jerry Greenberg), of Larry Hart’s stage musical “Sisterella.

With Michael’s support, Sisterella went on to do great things. While in Los Angeles, Sisterella received rave reviews, 12 N.A.A.C.P. Theater Award nominations and 8 N.A.A.C.P. Theater Awards including Best Play and Best Director. In Europe, Sisterella was voted show of the decade. Larry Hart has this to share about working with Michael on ‘Sisterella‘:

Michael Jackson changed my life with his belief in me, his support, and his extraordinary talent. I learned many new techniques in the studio while recording the cast album for Sisterella from Michael, and my days working on the album at Sony Music and at MJJ will always be cherished. Michael influenced so much of Sisterella, from the music, to the costumes to the award winning choreography by Raymond G. del Barrio. Sisterella was, in many ways homage to Michael. It was an extraordinary time in my life, made possible by an extraordinary man.

To celebrate the success of Sisterella, when it opened in Los Angeles, Michael hosted a celebration at Neverland, and invited my family and the whole cast for a day like no other. That visit became the first of many. On closing day at Pasadena Playhouse, Michael came to see the show and see us off before we left to go on tour in Europe. For the European tour, Michael again was the Presenter and Executive Producer of Sisterella. To this day, I attribute the success of Sisterella to Michael, his friendship and support.The last time I heard from Michael was last October. He left a voicemail message for me, to sing Happy Birthday to me. I hadn’t heard from him in a while, and that message is more poignant today, as it was surprising and touching then.

I will miss my friend Michael. You changed my life and I will always love you.

-Larry Hart

Hart acknowledges MJ’s mentoring on the show, from new techniques in the studio for the cast album to his influence on the costumes and dance.

Michael with Larry Hart

Larry Hart, who wrote the book, music and lyrics for “Sisterella,” and the play's Executive Producer and Presenter, Michael Jackson

Hart also reflects:

Michael was my business partner, who became a dear friend. I am the only composer on earth that Michael Jackson ever attached his name to a project that was not of his creation.

Jimmie Wilson

Jimmie Wilson

From the description in the program:

The show is set in New York in 1912. Multi-millionaire John Kensington has died and is survived by his Ella, his second wife Dahlia and his stepdaughters Magnolia and Chrysanthemum. Dahlia plays the role of the grieving widow, anticipating inheriting his entire estate valued at over 900 million dollars. Later, it is discovered that Ella is going to inherit the estate from her father, a fact that leaves her stepmother and two stepsisters quite jealous and disturbed. In an attempt to secure the inheritance for themselves, the evil stepfamily devises a dastardly plot for Ella’s demise. There’s a prince. There’s even a fairy Godfigure. There are lawyers, a court case and a trial. And a very happy ending.

Sisterella, with its dynamic staging, lavish costuming, lighting and special effects, rousing toe-tapping, hand-clapping music with lyrics that are clever, funny and satirical is a new musical not to be missed! Raymond Del Barrio, choreographer combines ballet with modern dance, waltzes, moonwalks, acrobatics and dozens of other styles to fill the stage with constant movement.

The role of Prince Jean-Luc in the musical was played by the handsome Jimmie Wilson. You can read more about Mr. Wilson and see some photos of the live musical here.

If you think that this musical is maybe one thing someone hasn’t found to make some money on since Michael’s death, think again. Frank DiLeo along with the original co-executive producer Jerry Greenberg, are planning to reconstitute the musical in L.A. in Spring 2011. DiLeo will take the role that Michael took originally, as co-executive producer. Raymond G. del Barrio will be the show’s choreographer — the same role he held when the musical debuted.

You might think that besides his other record-breaking accomplishments, being executive producer of such a musical would give Michael the credibility needed to convince Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling to allow him to produce a musical based on the Harry Potter series. But Rowling would have none of that. In a snub on Oprah’s tabloid talk show on 01 October, 2010, Rowling said:

Michael Jackson wanted to do a musical. I said no to a lot of things. For me, I love the films, I love the books, and there’s elements that I love around it… like the theme park. But I only wanted to do it because I knew it would be incredible. -J.K. Rowling

In other words, Rowling did not believe that Michael Jackson could do something ‘incredible‘ (even though he had been doing the incredible for decades by that time). Maybe she simply doesn’t like his style of music, dance or production. That’s fair. And, I’m uncertain of the timelines involved ie: when she turned Michael down – was it before or after Sisterella? If before, then she could not have based her decision on that production.

As for Oprah, well, there she goes again. Given her modus operandi on all things Michael, it’s not surprising that this occurred on her show. One wonders if she makes it a requirement that her guests snub Michael Jackson if/when the subject comes up (and she seems to make sure it does). It seems to happen with amazing frequency when she’s involved and she’s certainly not above it herself, nor is she above asking him embarrassingly inappropriate questions when she’s interviewed him.  She gets her precious from it – those ratings. At his expense of course.

That brings me to the alleged October 6th airing of the interview Oprah did with Lisa-Marie Presley. It obviously did not air on October 6th, and no one seems to know exactly when or if it will air. I say keep the pressure on. Oprah needs to do a lot more thinking about her past and present behavior in regards to Michael and personally, I’d be just as happy if that interview with Lisa-Marie never aired.

Like I said in a previous comment, there is one thing that Oprah (and her guests for that matter, unless they have something nice to say) needs to do in regards to Michael Jackson: Shut. Up. We’ve heard enough. It would be oh-so nice if this woman would stop nipping at his deceased heels at every opportunity just to puff herself and her ratings up. She just needs to leave it alone.
_ _ _

{ Thanks to Princess Neyha for finding even more information about this musical! -Seven }

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21 Responses to “Michael was Executive Producer of an award-winning musical, yet turned down by J.K. Rowling”

  1. Wioletta Maria says:

    La premierà mondiale era 17 marzo 1996, ho anche il manifesti di questo giorno.

  2. Michael Franks says:

    Michael’s Legacy continues.
    Sisterella is once again being

  3. Suzy says:

    @ pez

    Seriously I had to google the name “Daniel Redcliffe” to see who he is. That’s how much I care for Harry Potter. LOL. After seeing his pic now I know he is the guy who played Potter. His face was familiar but not his name.

    I don’t know but I have a deep dislike for this whole Harry Potter stuff. I don’t like when things get hyped undeservedly high – and IMO Harry Potter is such a case.

    I never liked the story – and even I never particularly liked the the actor who played him (now, I know his Redcliffe). So it doesn’t really bother me if he and Rowling don’t like Michael. I don’t like them either.

  4. Suzy says:

    I don’t care for JK Rowling and never did. I think Harry Potter is WAAAAAAAAY overrated and overhyped. I’m glad Michael had nothing to do with it.

  5. Lisa D. says:

    I lost total respect for oprah..way before i found out about her TRUE feelings and how she has treated Michael over the years..When I did found out–the respect factor has totally gone out the window–without getting it back! Oprah is a attention-power hungry pare…she just cannot be satisified! I hate to resort to name calling but..all the other things i want to say..are much worst..As for Daniel R. well who really cares what he has to say..and as for J.K. Rolling..she could have spoken with more tact. Michael’s GENIUS is multi-facet! There will never be another. Then include his beautiful HEART, is COMPASSION, his COURAGE, and ALL THE HARD WORK he put into his GENIUS..no man nor woman can ever takes these away from him..In my opinion he is the closest thing to GOD..other than JESUS, to have existed in this planet..When GOD created Michael–he went way overboard! And maybe, maybe that is Oprah asks God all the time: God, Why not me Lord?, Why not me?..Instead of being humble and appreciative, of all her gifts! Michael is KING of pop, king of HEARTS, king of Compassion..Always and FOREVER..

  6. killuminatee says:

    can someone put a big …. in oprahs mouth,sorry!

  7. David says:

    My thoughts exactly Seven! In fact, here’s what Suzy wrote on my blog about Oprah:

    That it’s coming from Oprah is a bit ironic, since she has been constantly accused of having a gay relationship with her close female friend Gayle King.


    “I understand why people think we’re gay,” she says in an excerpt of the article provided to the Associated Press. “There isn’t a definition in our culture for this kind of bond between women. So I get why people have to label it – how can you be this close without it being sexual?”

    So when she and Gayle King have a close bond that doesn’t have to mean it’s sexual and it’s silly of people to think a close friendship can only be sexual. But when it comes to Michael Oprah suddenly has different standards. How hypocritical!

  8. Seven says:

    David, that woman has a filthy mouth, IMO. And no respect. How would she feel if someone did this to HER?

  9. David says:

    Seven! Here’s MORE evidence of Oprah trashing MJ for no reason! In this episode from 2004, where she interviewed gay men pretending to be straight, she mentioned him just for the sake of associating him with homosexuality and pedophilia! When the subject of gay men sharing beds came up, look at what she said to her guest J.L. King!

    Oprah Show Transcript
    Men Living on the D.L.
    Friday, April 16, 2004
    J.L. King
    … If he’s comfortable with his sexuality and he has no desire to have
    sex with another man, he can have gay friends. He can get in the bed with a gay man and not
    touch him…seriously…and not touch him, because he’s comfortable with who he is.
    You sounding a little bit like Michael Jackson up here. (Audience laughs) A little like Michael Jackson up here. I’m not going there with you with all that you can get in the bed with a man and all that stuff…

    Here’s the link to the entire show, although she didn’t mention MJ again, thank goodness!

  10. teodora santos says:

    oprah has a double face,sorry but its true she believed the lies,and the lies she make it truth, does how she is,,,

  11. Ali says:

    i only saw the first harry potter film and actually i thought it was boring and irritating.and a bit ‘samey’ really. i couldn’t see what the fuss was about. sorry!
    as for this daniel radcliffe – who is he? presumably either part of production or in the cast but i truly don’t know who he is. so really, what are their opinions worth anyway? even my parents in their mid eighties know Michael Jackson – and my dad is getting very forgetful and disorientated. my mum, aged 86, can hold a conversation about Michael! and was upset when i was telling her about all the circumstances around his death! – even though they ‘don’t hold with pop music’!! they certainly don’t know daniel radcliffe and would probably not be sure what harry potter was.

  12. Mari says:

    Yeah, you are SO right about all this! If people simply have nothing nice or complimentary to say about Michael they should definitely just Shut Up already and keep quiet! We’ve had enough. I’m personally sick of them talking crap about him ALL the time. It does seem like Oprah in particular just can’t get enough of negativity and bashing when it comes to MJ. I just remember that part in the 1993 interview where she actually asks him if he’s a virgin! I mean for gods sakes!

    Would she even ask such a question from anyone else? Probably not. But when it’s Michael she goes all out in trying to find something to embarrass him. It’s such an obvious agenda the whole media really has when they say something about Michael. I don’t even pay any attention to their stuff anymore, it’s just always something negative or nasty. NEVER anything positive, inspiring or uplifting.

    That’s the kind of stuff I usually find HERE all the time for example 😉 Really, your site and poems and everything here is just beautiful and a true work of art, just like our lovely Michael himself! You Honor Him greatly with your obvious dedication and love for Him, you really do…

    And Oprah herself has been absolutely obsessed with MJ ever since they did that interview back in 1993. She KNOWS Michael’s name alone will bring her a lot more viewers and ratings! So she uses his name shamelessly when ever possible. Obsessed just like the other enemies and haters. Pissed off because MJ truly IS Unbreakable and Invincible and always has been. Annoyed because after that thing they did together back in 93 she’s NEVER had a chance to interview him ever again. Michael is very smart and wise, he knows what type of “media personalities” to avoid. Usually he does anyway, it’s true that he never should have given Martin Bashir the privilege of interviewing him. That was the one mistake he did.

    As for Rowling…Well I got to admit that I’m definitely no real fan of Harry Potter anyway and I think the books are not very well written(especially the last ones!)so it’s pretty irrelevant to me what she said frankly. It’s just funny because she is surely not someone who should ever criticize someone as profilic as MJ because of all the critique she herself has gotten even from the fans of the books. She’s definitely NOT a natural genius like MJ is! An adequate writer yes, but nothing more. There’s a lot more REAL Magic, beauty, wonderment and otherworldliness in ALL of MJ’s music and poems compared to her books any day and any way. I think every MJ fan here can verify that with me as well.

    But of course I do feel sad for Michael if this musical project really was something he wanted to accomplish and be part of and she never even gave him the chance to try doing it. We all know what a unique, multitalented and musical genius MJ is. HE certainly doesn’t need HER of all people to validate his talents and abilities! His long career from being a child prodigy to the Greatest Entertainer of all time speaks for itself. Popular musics only Mozart definitely doesn’t need some mediocre childrens writers acceptance..

  13. Michelle says:

    Larry Hart’s words about Michael are so incredibly sweet and I’m glad Michael got credit for “Sisterella.” As for Oprah, she’s trash!

  14. Joyce says:

    Thanks for the information and links about “Sisterella”. It sounds like it was an incredible musical with Michael’s magical touch throughout. I am sorry that I didn’t know more about it when it was being performed in the late 90’s. It sounds like it would be a great show to bring back as a revival as they have with so may other wonderful musicals. Hopefully they will give Michael credit for his huge contribution to its original success as I’m sure they will do with Larry Hart. Mr. Hart’s beautiful words about working with Michael are once again a testament to Michael’s incredible talent, work ethic and loyalty as a friend. Every person who has ever actually worked with Michael and spent time with him speaks the same words of praise and love.

    As to the whole “Harry Potter” information, I honestly think J.K. Rowling is very protective of her stories and what is done with them as she rightly should be. Having read all of the books, I am really not sure I can see them being made into a musical. Maybe that is what she actually discussed with Michael. I have found that Oprah has an uncanny way of making people say things that they may not necessarily have intended to say so that it will end up reflecting better on her. I did not see the show, since I refuse to watch any of Oprah’s shows, so I do not know how the conversation actually went but I could certainly see Oprah guiding the conversation in a way to slight Michael if she were able to do so. I am not trying to defend J.K. Rowling but I would at least give her the benefit of the doubt.
    Daniel Radcliff certainly has every right to not like Michael’s music (personally, I don’t know how that is even possible) but there are many artists that other people just adore that I find very unpleasant. I do wish he would have found a more polite way to voice his opinion but again we don’t have all of the conversation.
    Those are just my opinions. Again, thanks so much for the great information about “Sisterella”. I may have to see if I can find a soundtrack out there somewhere!

  15. ella says:

    I can’t understand the sudden turn around from J.K. Rowling & Daniel. So they were excited before hand but now they have negative comments. Whatever, clearly they suffer from short-term memory loss. Maybe they harbor some ill will because of this:

    –Stuart Boreman, Vue Entertainment’s film buying director, stated that the [This Is It] film’s sales of over 30,000 tickets in the period of 1 day (24 hours) had broken ‘box office records’ of having the ‘biggest ever one day sales record’ in the United Kingdom, eclipsing advance buying for films such as HARRY POTTER and THE HALF BLOOD PRINCE & The Lord of the Rings–

    People in arts/entertainment pay attention to each others achievements more than expected.

    I’m so glad Michael got to explore other creative opportunities. He was producing a classical album before he passed.


  16. Seven says:

    Just had a little convo with someone on FB who says she worked with Rowling on the HP films. She said the offer was made to Rowling in 2006, she believes. So, it was well after ‘Sisterella’ had been done.

    She said that MJ seemed excited after talking to her and that the impression among crew was that Rowling was considering it. She was puzzled by Rowling’s comments on Oprah. I mean, why not just say “I don’t like musicals”, or “I just didn’t think it was a good idea at the time” — rather than “I didn’t think it would be incredible” and “No, it could have been worse, Michael Jackson wanted to make a musical”. Those are clearly snubs of MJ and his work. Rude.

    Does Oprah just attract this stuff? That’s why I ask if she somehow requires her guests to snub him if the subject arises (and/or if she works to be sure it does). It just seems odd. Is it a ratings ploy and/or an attempt on Oprah’s behalf to make herself look better in viewer’s eyes than Michael by continually running him down? Is she jealous of him? Does she feel as if she has to ‘compete’ with his success in her own career?

    But – maybe Rowling just figures Michael is gone so she can say whatever she wants – whatever comes to mind – and it doesn’t matter. But, he has a legacy, and he has children and fans. It does matter. If she didn’t like his music or style or whatever, fine – but why the rude snub? WTH?

    The FB friend also said that Daniel seemed excited and honored to be invited to the shows – that they all were. So she was puzzled also about that comment of his.

    I agree with what Raven wrote. Certainly people are free to not like Jackson’s music or style or whatever – fine, no problem – but have some respect – and stop using Michael’s name to elevate themselves, get ratings, or get a rise out of his fans by being rude. Does no one have any manners anymore? And if they can’t manage any manners then they should indeed just shut up.

    Fans are both sick of decades of this garbage being slung at the man, and still upset over his murder/death – and they are in no mood to tolerate it anymore. Jeeeze.

  17. Raven says:

    @pez, I agree. It would be one thing to justify the comment by saying, Okay, maybe Ms. Rowling doesn’t like musicals. The books are her creation and maybe she didn’t see a musical as an appropriate artistic outlet for them. That would be fair. But the way it was worded came off as a slur. “It could have been worse…” Granted, sometimes these things are all in the way they are phrased, and when people are speaking live, they do not always take the time to think about how they are phrasing things or how they will sound to someone else listening. If she had said, “It could have been worse, Michael Jackson wanted to do a musical but I just absolutely cannot see these books as a musical” then again, I would say fair enough. She wouldn’t be the first author to have very strong opinions about how her work is portrayed, and by whom (I;m thinking of a few years ago when Anne Rice created such a stink about Tom Cruise playing her character Lestat, then had to do a full apaology after seeing how incredible his performance was). But I think when it comes to Michael, because there HAS been so much stigma attached to his name, one can never be too sure how to take comments like that-if they are intended as a deliberate slur, or not. It was the fashionable thing to do for so long that I think it has become an ingrained habit. (Ingrained habits, like Diane Sawyer saying Michael’s scalp was “allegedly burned” after just seeing the Pepsi video with his Michael’s entire scalp engulfed in flames). And, of course, the fans’ emotions are still very raw right now and I think any celebs who choose to speak publicly about Michael right now need to be aware of that fact-and why. If I were any of them, I would just not say anything at all, rather than risk saying something that could be misconstrued or misinterpreted. Maybe there really is a time just to shut up, once and for all, and stop using this man’s name just for ratings or to “get a rise,” if that is the purpose. They should know by now that the fans aren’t going to just take this stuff anymore. I think everyone is entitled to their opinion and yes, people are free to not like Michael Jackson’s music if they want-I cannot for the life of me imagine how they could NOT like it-but if they don’t, fair enough. Just have some dignity, some class, and some respect when talking about the man. As for Daniel Radcliffe, that comment of his was the height of tackiness. All he had to say if he didn’t want to attend the shows was a classy “No, thank you” and leave it at that. Instead, he rubbed it in to make it sound like it would be the worst possible thing he could do. Again, as you say, very classy way to respond to an invitation, which Michael certainly was under no obligation to do.

  18. Carmina Brasil says:

    Michael was brilliant in everything he did and bet. I am not surprised that a show that he believed had been invested and a success!

    Michael had artistic sensibility and business acumen. What put everything to lose were the people from whom he surrounded himself. Well, but nobody has a “crystal ball” to know who is and is not reliable, does not it?

    As for Oprah, too bad, she seemed a woman as intelligent … I got to thinking that tend to deepen, researching the best places matters on the agenda in their programs.

    And JK Rowling hmmmmmmmmmmmmmm … … poor thing …. is so out!

    HUGS from Brazil!

  19. pez says:

    Oprah asked J.K. if she had considered expanding the HP empire. J.K. responded “No. It could have been worse, Michael Jackson wanted to make a musical”

    ‘It could have been worse’. That’s extremely rude and unnecessary. She sounded like Daniel Radcliffe who was ‘allegedly’ invited to an MJ concert. He responded “I could think of no place I’d rather be less. I have nothing against the man personally but I don’t like his music.”

    Way to be classy & gracious when a world renowned entertainer extends an invite to you. The entertainment industry community underestimated Michael’s talent and looked down on him. Many were JEALOUS and used his scandals as a justification for backstabbing, sabotaging, and degrading him. Michael was more than an entertainer, he was an incredibly creative being who brought magic to various creative projects. He signed Brownstone (a very talented female R&B group) to his label MJJ Music in the early 90s. He came up with the idea for Dreamworks BEFORE Steven Spielberg (the backstabbing traitor) and Jeffrey Katzenberg STOLE the idea & cut Michael OUT of the business plan. He was working on a children’s book (the name escapes me), he was going to produce films, etc.

    I do agree that celebrities should SHUT UP about Michael, more specifically Oprah. I don’t respect the woman and she’s shown how opportunistic and hypocritical she is. Why does she feel the need to mention Michael? Is it because her show is no longer interesting on it’s own? Are the celeb guests not accomplished enough in their own right? Oprah is losing her magnetism and is scared (as she admitted) but not for the reasons she admitted. Her scheming and conniving is becoming more apparent. She has lost a significant number of followers and she KNOWS it. Her karma is what frightens her, NOT Michael’s “paralysis” post-Thriller, NOT starting her OWN network.

    Oprah tried to suggest Michael did NOTHING to make Thriller successful & that it was “divine intervention, kismet, destiny, fate, etc” She’s a TOTAL IDIOT!! Doesn’t hard work, determination, persistence, etc. play a part in being successful. It’s was disappointing that J.K. Rowling actually agreed with Oprah. Does she consider he success of Harry Potter to be accidental or some unexplainable blessing. PUH-LEEZE!! Two arrogant women in a room is never endearing.

    13 #1 hits, 6 #1 albums, 5 of the best globally-selling albums, 13 Grammys (plus 2 others, The Grammy Legend & Lifetime Achievement Awards), 367 + awards, numerous Guinness World Records, highest grossing concert film in history, etc.

    If that’s the work of someone who is “paralyzed”, Michael is a quadriplegic.

  20. Jeanne says:

    Agree with you , Seven , I have hoped to be wrong on this one but I have a funny feeling that jealousy is the reason for this . See that is what is wrong in America. This is a land of opportunity and those who take advantage of this freedom can rise to the highest height possible because there are no limits in this country . If you can dream it , you can do it . Michael did , Oprah did . And in them doing so they not only fulfilled their dreams , but gave back to society and as well employed many . Like Michael said in the movie “this is it” when talking to Michael the music director , that we are given this gift , so that we may inspire others to give their gift as well. When jealousy and greed then take over ,, these gifts start to fade . (might be the reason for Oprah’s decline in popularity cause the ugly green monster has peeked his ugly head and people are not blind and see this) I am not trying to preach but I just wanted to say that I have seen so much wisdom in Michaels words , and that he was a great teacher even till his last days . Each person on earth has a gift , many who have written here on this site have the gift of words , or talent of some sort. Some organize , some paint , some write . . I suggest each one go back to the one who wrote words of wisdom. Michael kept love in his heart until the very last day. He did what he did because he recognize from which it came and stayed humble until the very last days . No one can take from you what God gives you . They can try , but to this day , all the evil jealous , hate filled hearts that tried to take away from Michael what was rightfully his ,,failed. To this day he is more loved , honored and respected than ever . No one took this from him. No one. Keep your gift alive . It is given to you for a reason.

  21. Tina says:

    I’m so glad Michael got credit for Sisterella…I know it was another of his GREAT works.

    I agree with you totally…OPRAH…SHUT UP! Wasn’t it enough that Michael opened his heart and home to her for that interview years ago…HE MADE HER! Without that intervieew where would she be? NOWHERE!

    God bless Michael and all he has done and what he is still doing for his fans….we miss him more everyday…the pain isn’t easing up for us…