Hollywood Exclusive: Remembering Michael, Family Considers Future of Billy Mays’ Final Projects
It will no doubt be a while before adoring fans and associates of Michael Jackson begin to recover — not only those at the Staples Center memorial, but elsewhere in the world.
Puff Daddy's longtime choreographer, Laurie Ann Gibson, who worked with Jackson on his "They Don't Care About Us" video, was in London with Lady GaGa and her tour when the news of his death broke. "We were just about to go on, and we were like, 'No, it can't be true!' We all put the initials MJ on our chest and under the costumes," she tells us. "I was really devastated … He was the point of no return. You never see that 'It' factor in artists like you saw in Michael. I always tell people, 'For what I do, I'm so glad I saw what it was so I can know what it isn't.' He confirmed my gift was ultimately the same as his — to be a type of performer to do it their way. Michael excelled at the choices he made professionally. He's the bar."
Gibson has since returned to work with current icon Puffy, as he is attempting to create a band for himself on MTV's newest show "Making His Band," premiering July 27.
"When we were working together before, with all of those hits, we didn't realize at the time that we were creating lifestyles and really becoming a part of the music industry. Now we have to top that," says Gibson. "I have to unlock that next level. Luckily, he's the best person to push. He's fearless. He wants so much more than most artists."
Fans of Puffy and Gibson's collaborations are happy to see the two working together again after witnessing them nearly come to blows during filming for "Making the Band." (She filed a complaint with the NYPD claiming he threatened her with a chair in that 2007 incident, later dropped.) "We were fighting harder for Danity Kane's dreams than they were. It caused us to have one of our only fights in over 15 years. It also helped us to grow, so it was actually a blessing. Not to say there aren't a few bumps and bruises on this new show, but I feel like we're a better team creatively as a result."
THE VIDEOLAND VIEW: The family of the late Billy Mays is weighing questions about the best routes to take with projects he left behind. "We've talked to the family. There will be an official statement coming out this week. Last week, we put him to rest — an entrepreneur and a pitchman and nobody better," says Kevin Harrington, the businessman behind many of the products Mays advertised — as well as being his longtime friend and the person who got Mays into infomercials some 22 years ago.
He, like Mays' family, "would like to see those projects out there one way or another — wherever they make sense. What they're doing right now is deciding what those strategies are. For ESPN, you have to think it might be a stretch to have Billy pitch, but in our universe, I think that certainly as time goes on, there will be a lot of people remembering Billy, and most likely everything from our side will be out there." Harrington's latest collaboration with Mays was a 30-minute infomercial — the longest Mays ever did — for Dual Saw. "We have his infomercial running; we slowed it down out of respect for his family last week."
The vastly successful marketing wiz — who will be seen as one of the judges on ABC's Aug. 9-debuting entrepreneurial competition show "Shark Tank" — recalls, "I ran into Billy 22 years ago at the Philadelphia Home Show, and I said, 'You should be doing infomercials.' And he said, 'What's an infomercial?' We did his first one back in the mid-'80s, and, of course, he became very successful in his own regard, going beyond our universe into, I'll call it, the real television universe, with ESPN and life and health insurance. He just signed a deal with Taco Bell. He transcended beyond gadgets and cleaners and into corporate America. I don't think there'll ever be anyone as powerful in this arena as Billy Mays was."
CELEB SEEN: Charlize Theron is one fit movie star, but it's nice to know she indulges in some sweet treats from time to time. We spotted the hot blonde this past weekend in Los Angeles's popular bakery "Sweet Lady Jane," where she was picking up a cake for the holiday weekend. Dressed down in spandex pants, a tank top and a hat, it was clear Theron made sure to get in her daily exercise routine before digging into the delicious dessert. And to top it all off, she picked up the cake on foot. No need to go wasting any gas on this trip!
AND ON THE QUESTIONS GO: Everyone is in a dither on how Michael Jackson got Diprivan, the analgesic anesthesia. By Googling "Buy Diprivan," it's plain to see that any MD can get it — or someone who could convince a site doctor he was a top-level cardiologist.
With reports by Emily Feimster.
To find out more about Marilyn Beck and Stacy Jenel Smith and read their past columns, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.
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