1983 - The short film and single "Thriller", featuring Vincent Price, and written by Rod Temperton, is released on December 2, 1983. It is a horror story, the victim being a girl (played by Ola Ray in the video) which is reassured by Jackson that she only had a nightmare by waking her up, and that in the midst of that terror she felt,
"Now it’s the timealthough on waking his set partner, he turns at the camera, revealing a smile and wearwolf eyes. This represents the clear possibility and belief that monsters (evil-mindedness) can lurk inside of real people as well.
For you and I to cuddle close together (yeah).
All through the night
I’ll save you from the terror on the screen
Girl, I can thrill you more than any ghoul will ever dare try,"
Jackson took a special interest since childhood in studying everything monstrous, especially that which is produced by distorted human perceptions. The entertainer himself was erroneously depicted by the media and at times called a 'monster', when Jackson tried all along to evoke and/or illustrate in darker-themed songs/videos such as Thriller, Ghosts, Is It Scary, Threatened, Black Or White or Bad, the terror and pains consuming him various times in his life, and that his public persona is a reflection of the media’s perception of him, including a large part of society’s. He also was a victim of scare and emotional abuse early in his life, thus reproduced a similar fear in Thriller, where he most likely exorcised his demons, art always being cathartic for Jackson, and a way to express what he wasn’t willing to in real life in front of people, i.e. violence, anger, frustrations or terror. John Landis directs the video/film and Rick Baker is responsible for special effects and make-up. The film costs an estimated 1 million dollars which Jackson himself provides. To re-coup some of the budget costs, John Landis will negotiate a deal with Showtime, MTV and Vestron to fund a 60-minute documentary on the making of the short film. ‘Making Michael Jackson’s Thriller’ will be aired a year later and sold on video tape. It will become the biggest selling music video of all time, with estimated sales of 9 million as of 2006. A week after the single and short film gets released, sales of the album soar and once again, Thriller retains its number-one charts position. At this time, Michael Jackson hires a new manager, Frank DiLeo, who will remain with him for five years.
Having already set the bar high with the album’s first two videos, Billie Jean and Beat It, the third one had to somehow take things further. Director John Landis, director of the 1981 horror comedy American Werewolf in London, was brought in to direct a mini-feature, a video that would take the format further than merely serving as a visual backdrop for a three-minute pop song.
Running almost fourteen minutes, the Thriller video employed horror flick cliches (it was filmed during Halloween season 1983), Michael was transformed into a supernatural ghoul disguised as a seemingly hapless high school boyfriend, who torments his date (played by Ola Ray) by using his uncanny ability to get a pack of corpse zombies to execute spectacularly synchronized dance routines.
The fact that the video had its debut just over a year after the album was first released was a reflection of the album’s enduring popularity and still-mounting sales figures. A stunning finale to the pop sensation of 1983, let alone the century, it also marked a peak and turning point, a period that gradually came to haunt Michael for being a standard too high for even him to repeat.
Having set a new standard for music videos with Billie Jean and Beat It, Michael knew his third video had to take things to a new level. He collaborated with director John Landis on a short movie, a fourteen-minute horror flick/dance number, to promote the song Thriller. Filmed during Halloween week of 1983, it premiered on December 2, 1983 and marked another milestone in the music video genre.
The 7th single from Thriller, was the album's title track. "Thriller" features the eerie sound of creaking doors and a ghoulish rap by horror fim star Vincent Price. "Thriller" debuted on Billboard's Hot 100 at #20, making it one of the highest debuting singles ever. "Thriller" entered the top 10 in its 2nd week on the charts, and peaked at #4. It went to #3 on the black singles chart.
For the 7th and final single from Thriller, Michael went all out to create his most elaborate video to date. Costing $1 million to produce, it was the most expensive video ever. It was also the longest video, running 13 minutes, always being broadcast with an opening disclaimer and closing credits.
After seeing the film, An American Werewolf in London, Michael decided he wanted that film's directer, John Landis, to direct the "Thriller" video. Rick Baker, who did the makeup for An American Werewolf in London, was chosen to do the makeup for "Thriller", transforming Michael into a werewolf right on camera. Michael's co-star was Ola Ray.
The story for the "Thriller" video was written by John Landis and Michael Jackson. Running out of gas on their date, Michael starts to walk Ola home. After telling her, "I'm not like other guys", he transforms into a werewolf in front of her eyes. He chases her through the woods when suddenly the scene swithces to Michael and his date watching the scene in a movie theater. Ola, too scared to watch, leaves the theater with Michael following her out. On their way home, they find themselves surrounded by dead, or rather undead, zombies. Michael becomes one of them and joins them in one of his most dazzling dance routines ever.
Michael said of making the music video, in an interview that aired on December 11, 1999, for MTV's 100 Greatest Videos Ever Made:
"My idea was to make this short film with conversation... in the beginning - I like having a beginning and a middle and an ending, which would follow a story. I'm very much involved in complete making and creating of the piece. It has to be, you know, my soul. Usually, you know, it's an interpretation of the music... It was a delicate thing to work on because I remember my original approach was, 'How do you make zombies and monsters dance without it being comical?' So I said, 'We have to do just the right kind of movement so it doesn't become something that you laugh at.' But it just has to take it to another level. So I got in a room with [choreographer] Michael Peters, and he and I together kind of imagined how these zombies move by making faces in the mirror. I used to come to rehearsal sometimes with monster makeup on, and I loved doing that. So he and I collaborated and we both choreographed the piece and I thought it should start like that kind of thing and go into this jazzy kind of step, you know. Kind of gruesome things like that, not too much ballet or whatever."
Makeup artist Rick Baker on his hesitation to work on "Thriller":
"John told me about the idea but I was reluctant. I got a call from John and he was like, 'You know who Michael Jackson is?' and I was like, 'Yeah, kinda. He's the guys from The Jackson 5, right?' And he said, 'Well he's got this song called 'Thriller' and he wants to do this short film.' At first I said I didn't want to do it. It's not a popular job -- it's like being a dentist in a way: They have to sit still in a chair for hours while you work on them. It's uncomfortable -- it's not something actors look forward to."
Makeup artist Rick Baker on Jackson's off-stage shyness:
"Michael was great and very shy. I remember the first time John came over to shoot us working on Michael's makeup for his behind-the-scenes stuff -- which I wasn't too happy about and Michael wasn't too happy about -- Michael was so nervous that as soon as the cameras came in, he ran off and hid in the bathroom. So different to when he was performing -- 'Thriller' was happening during the making of the Motown Anniversary Special, when Michael first did the moonwalk, and one of the guys brought tape of the show in and said, 'Watch this.' That was him, when he was performing. That was when he came alive."
Actress Ola Ray on the experience of filming "Thriller" with Jackson:
"Everyone thinks I made millions, but I don't care ... I wouldn't change a thing. The minute I walked into the audition, I knew the part was mine. Michael seemed taken by the fact I was a Playboy model. He was cute, but childlike. He loved chasing me or jumping out from behind a wall."
The purpose of making "Thriller," in Landis's mind -- it was nobody's brilliant idea. "I took the job to direct Michael Jackson's landmark music video because I saw it as a chance to resurrect a genre that had once been a Hollywood staple. It was a great opportunity to bring back the theatrical short. Music videos were new in 1983, and MTV was just two years old. At that time the videos were used to sell records and when Michael decided to do the 'Thriller' video, the album had already become the biggest-selling album of all time. It ended up costing $500,000 -- still enormous money at that time for that kind of thing. Nobody would give us the money because the album had already been so successful. Michael said he would pay for it, but I wouldn't let him. He was still living with his parents in Encino, behind a supermarket."To qualify for an Academy Award, "Thriller" debuted at a special theatrical screening, along with the 1940 Disney motion picture Fantasia.
The A-list turned out for the premiere at the 500-seat historic Crest Theater; Diana Ross, Warren Beatty, Prince, Eddie Murphy. “I’ve been to the Oscars, the Baftas, the Emmys and the Golden Globes, and I have never seen anything like this,” remembers John Landis. Ola Ray looked for Michael before the lights went down and found him in the projection booth, He told her that she looked beautiful, but refused her entreaty to come sit in the audience, telling her “This is your night, go enjoy yourself.” […] Then came Thriller, cranked at full volume. Fourteen minutes later the crowd was on its feet, applauding and crying “Encore! Encore!” Eddie Murphy shouted “Show the goddamn thing again!” And they did.
1984 - The Jacksons perform Victory tour at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, California, USA attending 55,000 fans.
1996 - Michael performs HIStory concert at Burswood Dome in Perth, Australia attending 18,900 fans.
2000 - Michael Attends Wedding Ceremony Of Tommy Mottola.
Michael Jackson took a front row seat at St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York for the wedding of Sony boss Tommy Mottola and Thalia Sodi. He did not attend the party after the wedding ceremony.
Some of the 1'200 invited friends included Donna Summer, Gloria Estefan, Rosie O'Donnell, Marc Anthony, Emilio Estefan, Jennifer Lopez, Robert De Niro, Saul Kerzner, Danny DeVito, Joe Pesci, Ricky Martin, Bruce Springsteen, Julio Iglesias, Tony Bennett, to name but a few.