120: I’ve Found Peace Within Myself

Damien Shields returns to The MJCast as a guest host, joining Elise for a jam-packed news and discussion episode! Damien is a long-time Friend of the Show, author, and Cascio tracks expert. The duo catches up on loads of updates in the world of Michael Jackson, including several new MJ-related books, a new podcast, updates on MJ One and the Robson/Safechuck hearings, Paris Jackson’s debut EP, lots of recently leaked MJ songs, amazing new content for fans from John Cameron, Marcos Cabota, Brad Sundberg, ?uestlove, Single White Glove—and much, much more. Plus, Damien and Elise discuss the Estate’s approach to HIStory25.

Discussion Topics
• New footage from the Bad World Tour live in Los Angeles 1988 has leaked.
• Single White Glove’s Heal the World video has premiered.
• MJFanGirl and The Detail have teamed up to release a new podcast called Michael Jackson Unspun. The latest episode is with Michael Bush’s assistant.
• Pez Jax’s book ‘The Story of HIStory’ is now available for pre-order, and will be officially released on July 20.
• Brice Najar has announced his new book, ‘Blood on the Dance Floor: Let’s Make HIStory in the Mix’.
• Dwayne Swingler, Neverland Valley Ranch supervisor has released a book.
• MJ Memorial Day Live happened on Facebook on June 25th, hosted by the King of Pop Events group. It featured interviews with Travis Payne, Jimmy Locust, Steven Paul Whitsitt and others. You can see the whole series of interviews here
• New Facebook group for online events and fan chat: Michael Jackson Book Club.
• MJ One is currently set to re-open in Las Vegas in early August. Meanwhile, Cirque du Soleil is over $1 billion in debt, and is seeking bankruptcy protection. They have laid off 3,500 employees, including Blue Man Group. However, all their non-touring shows plan to re-open as soon as they are allowed to do so.
• Marcos Cabota’s Sonic Fantasy documentary gets a trailer.
• Archival interviews of Michael Jackson’s children have been released on YouTube channel ‘Jacksonology‘, apparently created for a cancelled documentary about MJ.
• Soundflowers’ docuseries, ‘Unfiltered: Paris Jackson and Gabriel Glenn’, streaming on Facebook through the summer. Plus, their debut EP has been released.
• Sia and Paris drama.
• Danny Wu’s Square One has been released on Amazon Prime.
• Charles Thomson has released his first podcast, called Shoebury’s Lost Boys, which details his decade long investigation into one of Britain’s most serious child sex abuse allegations cover-ups.
• Robson and Safechuck trial update. As predicted, Dan Reed was there filming.
• The Jacksons’ video for Can You Feel It gets released on YouTube, as well as Michael Jackson’s HIStory teaser.
• Original versions of some 2007 Ebony photoshoot pics have leaked.
• ?uestlove has streamed three massive Jackson family DJ experiences here, here and here. Full “Quarantine Live DJ Sets” playlist available here.
• John Cameron is about to release his latest episode of #JCsMusicology, which will focus on the Off The Wall era.
• Brad Sundberg has shared his ‘7 Songs, 7 Stories’ series on YouTube as a way to honour ‘MJ Week’ during COVID-19 restrictions.
• So…it’s been a bit leaky lately. See this channel.
• HIStory25 got the Dangerous25 treatment.

Additional Links
• Damien’s website.
• Damien’s excellent book, Michael Jackson: Songs & Stories From The Vault.

Sponsors
• Audible – Great audiobooks. Great a free one-month trial (including one free audiobook) and help support the podcast by using our custom MJCast promo link.
• The MJCast’s official shop. Support The MJCast and Michael Jackson all at the same time by buying some of our merchandise.

Connect with Us
• TheMJCast.com
• Facebook
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• YouTube

If you have feedback on this Michael Jackson podcast episode, we’d love to hear from you. Contact us at themjcast@icloud.com or find the links to our many social networks on www.themjcast.com. Stay BAD!

116: We’re All Experts in the Rearview Mirror

Damien Shields returns to The MJCast as a guest host, joining Jamon for our first regular news and discussion episode of Season 6! Damien is a long-time Friend of the Show, author, and Cascio tracks expert. The fellas catch up on loads of updates in the world of Michael Jackson, including the Estate’s #HealTheWorld2020 video, newly leaked MJ vocal snippets, an awkward snafu by Teddy Riley, developments around Dan Reed, good news for Tom Mesereau, a beautiful film-tribute to Michael Jackson’s artistic legacy, and more. Plus, Jamon and Damien ask the question: Could HIStory 25 happen?

Discussion Topics
• Cirque du Soleil temporarily suspends MJOne due to COVID-19.
• French documentary Lettre d’amour à Michael Jackson premieres on YouTube.
• Teddy Riley claims that a previously released vocal cover of the song Joy, sung by MJ vocal impersonator Marcus Williams, is actually a demo he recorded with Michael.
• Michael Jackson’s Privacy acapella has leaked.
• Rodney Jerkins allegedly plays an unreleased Michael Jackson snippet called Rampage during a live stream event.
• Previously unreleased footage of Michael Jackson surfaces at gottahaverockandroll.com
• Dan Reed successfully gains access to film future court proceedings involving Wade Robson and James Safechuck.
• Tom Mesereau is now working as Special Counsel for John Branca, co-executor of the Michael Jackson estate.
• So #HealTheWorld2020 happened.
• Is HIStory 25 going to be a thing?

Additional Links
• Damien’s Twitter page, website, and book, Michael Jackson: Songs & Stories From The Vault.
• Dan Villalobos’ website, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Orbits EP on Apple Music and Spotify.

Ad Breaks
• Crack Corn – Ridiculously delicious puff corn
• The MJCast Shop

Connect with Us
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If you have any thoughts, opinions, or feedback on this Michael Jackson podcast episode, we’d love to hear from you. Contact us at themjcast@icloud.com or find the links to our many social networks on www.themjcast.comStay BAD!

Film Review: Danny Wu Goes Back to Square One with a Crucial Michael Jackson Allegations Documentary

“Square One” is the Michael Jackson documentary we need now.

It has been a tough year for the worldwide Michael Jackson fan community in the wake of “Leaving Neverland”. With celebrities like Oprah Winfrey hopping onto Dan Reed’s bandwagon, and almost all mainstream media purposely stifling any voice in protest of the film, or even any voice of reason, many fans have been left feeling hopeless. A select few podcasters, YouTubers, and media personalities have created great content countering “Leaving Neverland” but, as of yet, nothing has truly managed to get mainstream, lasting attention. And while the fan community awaits Taj Jackson’s docuseries (you can donate here), that project is still a long ways off.

But the tide may be changing. Just this month, three documentaries have been released in support of Michael Jackson (all of which The MJCast team discuss in #TheMJCastEp108): “Chase the Truth”, “Lies of Leaving Neverland”, and most importantly, in my view, “Square One”, by Danny Wu. After viewing the film at its premiere in Hollywood on September 28, 2019, I believe that Wu’s film has the potential to be a game-changer. It is the film we need in these times.

To give you some background on Danny Wu: Based in Vancouver, Canada, Wu is a YouTuber and up-and-coming filmmaker who grew up as an MJ fan, but who watched “Leaving Neverland” and was convinced of Jackson’s guilt. He decided to create a YouTube video presented as a compelling “Did he or didn’t he?” investigation. However, in the course of Wu’s extensive research, he realized that the facts didn’t add up, and that there could be no way that Michael Jackson was guilty of his accused crimes. Over this time, he interviewed Taj and Brandi Jackson and developed close ties with content creator Liam McEwen (who produced one of the first “Leaving Neverland” rebuttal videos, “Neverland Firsthand”). These relationships would solidify Wu’s support of Jackson’s innocence as well as his dedication to getting out the truth about the allegations. I want to emphasize that Wu “walks the walk”. His efforts are not motivated by money or attention-seeking. In fact, he has donated all of his YouTube revenue from his Jackson-related videos to Taj Jackson’s docuseries, and he self-funded “Square One”. When we interviewed him on The MJCast, he specifically recommended that anyone who wants to donate to him should give their money to Taj Jackson instead.

One might have assumed that Wu would create a film examining the lies in “Leaving Neverland”, since that has been the big focus of this year. But he took a different approach. Wu saw a video of Jackson’s 2005 defense lawyer, Tom Mesereau, in which he spoke about how, if Jordan Chandler had been called to speak in that trial, there would have been a line-up of Chandler’s friends ready to tell the opposite story. Inspired by this idea, Wu decided that he needed to find one of these friends who would be willing to speak publicly. And, in doing so, he could potentially take every allegation “back to square one”, where it all started. By focusing on the 1993 allegations and the Chandler family, he could expose the lies at their root.

With this context in mind, it was with great hope that I attended the film’s premiere on September 28, held at Grauman’s Chinese Theatre in Hollywood. It was hard to know what to expect for this event. Would the fans turn out? Would the film succeed in its goals? Wonderfully, Danny Wu’s “Square One” premiere was a night to remember, when the fan community came together to support a superb film that I believe will make a real difference. In attendance were all the stars of the film, including Danny Wu, Taj Jackson, Charles Thomson (investigative journalist and Legal Correspondent for The MJCast), Jenny Winings, Geraldine Hughes, and Josephine Zohny, who knew Jordan Chandler in college, had been on the 2005 trial witness list, and whose experiences with Chandler frame the film’s narrative. (More on that later.) The rest of the attendees represented a “who’s who” of the MJ community. It was an exciting, inspiring, and dynamic evening. Guest highlights included Tom Mesereau, Liam McEwan, John Ziegler, Tommy Organ, Thayana Sco Jackson, Edwin Costa (of @edwinsgeneration), filmmaker and podcaster Adam Green, actress Lori Petty, and many more. Fans had come from far and wide, with a few attendees flying from China for the event. There was a great energy, buzz, and a lot of love in the room in anticipation of the screening.

Now, onto the part you’re waiting for: So, how was the film?

“Square One” is a brilliant, professional, and entirely convincing film which will, in my view, speak both to fans and to a mainstream audience. When non-fans, or even casual fans, have asked me this year how to address the questions brought up by “Leaving Neverland”, I have found myself pointing to a lot of different resources, but they are typically overflowing with far more information than the average person is willing to sort through. Enter “Square One”, which is now the film to which I will direct people to understand the 1993 allegations and everything that would come after. The way in which it walks the viewer through a complex set of circumstances is impeccable: easy to absorb, concise, grounded in facts, and it lays the groundwork for precisely why things happened as they did, and how the 1993 allegations would set the stage for the Arvizo trial, Robson, Safechuck, and more. As Josephine Zohny says in the film, “Every allegation is built on the ’93 allegations”. By understanding the chain of events involving the Chandler family, the spider web of misfortunes that plagued Michael Jackson throughout the rest of his life are illuminated.

The structure of the film: First, I want to make clear that there are no surprise bombshells in this film. Serious fans will know this information already. (Though, for casual fans or non-fans, most of the facts presented in this film will be new and, I imagine, revelatory.) Its value is not in making new claims, but in presenting the information in the clearest way imaginable, and in doing so with authority. The film is framed by Zohny’s experiences with Jordan Chandler, with powerful interviews with Taj Jackson, Jenny Winings (who, like Zohny, was on the 2005 trial witness list), and Geraldine Hughes woven throughout the narrative. Caroline Fristedt also appears a few times, if briefly, and some archival audio from “Big Al” Scanlan is included. Danny Wu appears in the film to move the story along at certain points, though it is really Charles Thomson who serves as the film’s primary narrator. (It is worth noting that Thomson did not go into this project realizing that his interview would become so key to the film, and it is a testament to his encyclopedic mastery of this chronology that he can provide such a perfect explanation of the chain of events in two unscripted interviews.) Thomson essentially walks us through every step of the 1993 allegations, with the other interviewees highlighting key moments. The rest of the film is primarily made up of archival audio, video, articles and legal documents, which are all well-presented and well-edited. There is no feeling of a passionate “fan-made defense video” here. The information is serious, journalistic, grounded and credible. I particularly appreciate that the film immediately opens by clarifying a few major questions which seem to eternally emerge up in the Jackson allegation conversation: No child pornography was ever found at Neverland, and nothing was ever discovered during the extended, off-and-on investigation of Jackson by the FBI. The actual chronology of the film walks us through the history of the Chandler family, with a particular focus, of course, on Evan Chandler, and his growing rage. It establishes perfectly the sequence of events leading to Chandler’s extortion of Jackson and why Chandler filed a criminal report, when he clearly had had no intention of alerting authorities regarding the supposed abuse of his child. The film makes very clear, as well, why Jackson settled, and how this settlement never voided the possibility of a criminal trial if there had been any evidence to do so. Wu also addresses and clarifies La Toya Jackson’s support (at the time) of the allegations, Victor Gutierrez and Rodney Allen’s role in the fiasco, and concludes with a short section touching on the Arvizo case. The film’s greatest accomplishment is to put all these puzzle pieces together in a way that any viewer can comprehend. Once set in place, there is a sense of crystal-clear understanding that, as Geraldine Hughes says, “Michael Jackson was the victim of an elaborate extortion scheme which launched the allegations.”

Why Josephine Zohny? Zohny has been unfairly criticized by some people online, saying that she is not a credible source. I completely disagree with this. She, along with Jenny Winings, were on the 2005 trial witness list, and would have been part of that trial if Chandler had been brought into the case. Also, Zohny is not motivated by anything but telling the truth: She gave one statement when she was put on the 2005 witness list, but has never spoken publicly about her experiences otherwise. She has never sold her story, nor has she told conflicting or exaggerated tales. And, while it’s true that she was not a close friend of Chandler’s, just an acquaintance, she had interactions with him on multiple occasions when they were classmates together at NYU, and heard him make statements specifically related to Jackson. According to her, Chandler surrounded himself with MJ memorabilia and fan friends, and, upon the release of Martin Bashir’s “Living with Michael Jackson”, Chandler stated, in front of multiple witnesses, that Jackson was “not capable of the things he was being accused of”. In sum, Zohny has put herself in the spotlight at personal risk (she has had to deal with internet trolls and her professional website being hacked) in order to defend Michael Jackson, and I have absolutely no doubt that viewers will find her story compelling and credible.

The minuses: I have very few critiques of this film, which I hope will be widely shared across the global MJ fan community and far beyond, except to point out that it could have benefited from a bit more editing. Wu created “Square One” in just a couple of months, which is deeply impressive, so I am perfectly willing to excuse any slight imperfections. I personally wish that Charles Thomson’s narration wasn’t via a sometimes-crackly speakerphone, for example, but that is a small complaint. So many long-time fans have spent years exploring the issues around the Jackson allegations, but no one has managed to create anything quite like this, and I encourage every Jackson fan to come together to support this film in whatever way we can.

I’ll conclude with a few words from Tom Mesereau, who was interviewed by John Ziegler immediately after the film premiere:

“It’s a fabulous film. It is high quality. It was carefully investigated. It was condensed in a very professional attempt to find the truth, and it tells the truth. Michael Jackson was not a pedophile. He never should have been put through what he was put through, starting with the case in ’92-’93. And I commend Danny Wu and all of his people for the fabulous job they did, and I can’t wait to hear this circulating through society, because we live in very, very biased, troubled times. Michael Jackson was never a pedophile, never should have been accused as such, and his life was destroyed by greed, by people without integrity, by people without a conscience. This film starts the road back from some of the recent developments, which have been very troubling. [Wu] did a tremendous job in showing the truth.”

Let’s gather as a community to support this film and other quality content being released in Michael Jackson’s defense. This is our moment.

How to watch “Square One”:

October 5, 2019: Worldwide debut of “Square One” on YouTube.

London premiere: UK residents can attend a screening of the film on October 5th in London. Danny Wu will be in attendance, and possibly other stars of the film. Information here.

Learn more:

The MJCast’s interview with Danny Wu.

Danny Wu’s TwitterInstagram and Facebook pages.

Other episodes from The MJCast related to the allegations:

Episode 108 – Back to Square One

Episode 103 – Vindication Day Special with Larry Nimmer

Episode 099 – Leaving Neverland Q&A

Episode 095 – Leaving Neverland Roundtable

Episode 081 – Vindication Day Special with Aphrodite Jones

Episode 058 – Vindication Day Special (Pirates in Neverland: The Michael Jackson Allegations)

Episode 033 – Vindication Day Special with Scott Ross

Article by Elise Capron.

095: Leaving Neverland Roundtable

The recent Sundance screening of Dan Reed’s inflammatory film, Leaving Neverland, has, without a doubt, rocked the Michael Jackson community. Despite being based on the easily discredited stories of Wade Robson and Jimmy Safechuck, and lacking any sort of real investigation, balanced interviews, or responsible journalism, this film has reignited the media’s firestorm against Jackson’s legacy, even as Michael is not here to defend himself.

In this special roundtable episode, The MJCast brings together a panel of experts and those who have seen the film and are taking action against it. Q and Jamon lead the discussion, and are joined by Taj Jackson (member of 3T and son of Tito Jackson, who is currently raising funds to produce his own docu-series), Charles Thomson (The MJCast’s Legal Correspondent and award-winning investigative journalist who has exposed a range of actual child abusers and cover-ups for The Yellow Advertiser in the UK), Marcos Cabotá (a film director who has seen the film and was one of its earlier critics) and Samar Habib (of the Michael Jackson Academia Project, who has been a leading figure in the online movement against the film).

The panellists discuss Reed’s film, the Sundance Q&A session, and the media reaction, as well as developments coming together to counter the film, such as Taj’s docu-series, which can be supported on GoFundMe. Taj also speaks to his own experiences of actually spending time with Michael at Neverland. The group offers talking points for anyone struggling with how to respond to people who say that Michael Jackson was an abuser, as well as coping strategies and words of encouragement.

Now, more than ever, it is the time to come together as fans, to support each other, and to remind the media and general public of the truth. The MJCast hopes that this episode provides resources, strength, and a sense of community during this challenging moment.

Participants
• Q (Host of The MJCast)
• Jamon Bull (Host of The MJCast)
• Charles Thomson (Award-winning investigative journalist and Legal Correspondent for The MJCast)
• Taj Jackson (Member of 3T, son of Tito Jackson and nephew to Michael Jackson)
• Marcos Cabotá (Film director best known for his Star Wars documentary, I Am Your Father)
• Samar Habib (Michael Jackson Academia Project)

Topics
• Leaving Neverland
• The reality of Robson’s relationship with the Jackson family, and why he turned on them.
• The effects on the Jackson family.
• Taj’s memories of spending time at Neverland with Michael, and what it was like being there during the 2005 trial.
• Taj’s GoFundMe campaign and his vision for the docu-series.
• How fans can combat this onslaught, and how this compares to 1993 and 2003-2005.
• Fan Comebacks 101 – Robson.
• Fan Comebacks 101 – General Allegations.
• Tips on coping, finding community, and supporting balanced opinions.

Additional Links
• Taj Jackson’s GoFundMe campaign
• Marcos Cabotá’s documentary I Am Your Father on iTunes and Netflix
• The MJCast: Episode 094 – Harrison Funk Special
• Jermaine Jackson’s appearance on Good Morning Britain
• Michael Jackson and Wade Robson: The Real Story
• Joseph Vogel’s Forbes article What You Should Know About the New Michael Jackson Documentary
• RazörFist’s The Michael Jackson Rebuttal (Part 1) and Defaming the Dead: The Michael Jackson Rebuttal (Part 2)
• Macaulay Culkin’s appearance on the Inside of You podcast
• Taj Jackson’s interview around Leaving Neverland on Sunrise
• Mary Fischer’s GQ article Was Michael Jackson Framed?
• FBI files pertaining to their ten-year investigation into Michael Jackson
• The MJCast – Episode 058: Vindication Day Special (Pirates in Neverland: The Michael Jackson Allegations)

Connect with Us
• TheMJCast.com
• Facebook
• Twitter
• Instagram
• YouTube

If you have any thoughts, opinions, or feedback on this Michael Jackson podcast episode, we’d love to hear from you. Contact us at themjcast@icloud.com or find the links to our many social networks on www.themjcast.com. Michael on!

094: Harrison Funk Special

This week, just as The MJCast was about to release a surprise episode between seasons, news broke that the Sundance Film Festival was preparing to screen a documentary smearing Michael Jackson as a child molester.

As shockwaves rippled through the fan community and listeners sprang into action, it seemed to be an inappropriate time to release the episode.

The show’s special guest was to be Harrison Funk, renowned entertainment, fashion, and advertising photographer best known for being Michael Jackson’s personal photographer from the early 1980s through the mid-2000s. The interview with Funk had been recorded months ago, and The MJCast team had kept it in the can, ready to release as a special New Year treat for listeners. 

But, upon re-visiting the interview in light of this week’s horrifying news, the timing could hardly be more apt. Harrison spends a great deal of time during his conversation with Jamon Bull and Charles Thomson discussing the false abuse allegations which plagued Michael from 1993 onwards. He speaks movingly about the physical and psychological toll the allegations took on his friend, and how those who loved Michael rallied around him, but watched helplessly as his life and his health slowly fell apart until his eventual death in 2009.

As the media prepares to stick the knife into Michael one more time and give it a sharp twist, this interview with one of Michael’s closest friends makes for a sobering listen.

In addition to the allegations, Harrison discusses the kind of man Michael really was, not the lie Dan Reed, Wade Robson and Sundance are going to try and sell the world. The MJCast and Harrison explore stories around Michael’s process as a live musician, the Victory Tour, the Bad era, Harrison’s love of photography, his fascinating observations as he photographed Teddy Riley​ producing Cascio tracks in the studio and SO much more!

This episode of The MJCast is dedicated to Friend of the Show and fellow MJ podcaster Jordan King of King Jordan Radio, who recently and tragically passed away. We will always be missing you, Jordan.

We hope this episode brings some positivity and truth to an otherwise dark time for MJFam.

Additional Links
• Harrison Funk’s website, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram
• The MJCast – Episode 044: World Music Awards 2006
• Michael Jackson’s 2006 World Music Awards performance
• LIFE Magazine commemorative issue featuring Harrison Funk’s signature photo of Michael Jackson
• The Jackson’s Victory Tour Live in Dallas
• The Jackson’s Victory Tour Press Conference
• The Jacksons – Torture
• The Jacksons – Body
• Michael Jackson – Liberian Girl
• Michael Jackson’s Bad World Tour Live in Yokohama
• Michael Jackson’s Personal Photographer: ‘He Didn’t Identify as One Gender’ – The Guardian article
• Documentary Accusing Michael Jackson of Sexual Abuse to Premiere at Sundance – Rolling Stone article
• Stop Leaving Neverland NOW – The MJCast article

Ads & Music Breaks
• The Jacksons – Torture (12″ Dance Mix)
• Michael Jackson – Stranger in Moscow (SWG Extended ‘Fader A Capella’ Mix)

Connect with Us
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If you have any thoughts, opinions, or feedback on this Michael Jackson podcast episode, we’d love to hear from you. Contact us at themjcast@icloud.com or find the links to our many social networks on www.themjcast.comKeep Michaeling!