Saturday, August 8, 2009

Nobody beats the Wiz! Beat it, beat it! Method, Madness, and easing toward the great and powerful Oz

This is what became of Willard's friend, Ben?

Nesting in some $20.00 bills in an ATM?

You remember Ben, the Rat that Michael Jackson loved as a child.

No not really Ben (rats don't live that long). Rather, his great, great grandchild.

The little rat is only claiming what is rightfully his. I think until now, only Ben and his relatives knew the story that I will share with you here. The cash in the ATM is hush money, meant to keep the little rat silent. Trace those torn up bills the rodent was nesting in and you'll follow the money trail to the heights of Hollywood power and corruption.

This is all, I think, linked to a revelation I had while lying in bed this morning. The TV was still on from the night before when I fell asleep watching some second rate 50s flick I had never heard of before and can't remember now on the Retro Channel. As I wiped the gunk from my eyes around 9:30am and things came into focus, I saw that 'The Wiz' was playing on the tube.

That's, right: the 1970s blaxploitation, disco-fueled Wizard of Oz remake.

Diana Ross (sans Supremes and not long past her Oscar nominated turn as Billie Holiday) as Dorothy, Nipsey Russell as the tin man, Richard Pryor as The Wiz, Lena Horne(!) as Glinda. Quincy Jones in an uncredited role as the Emerald City Gold Pianist.

And Michael Jackson as the Scarecrow.

Instead of trying to 'follow the yellow brick road!', they instead were going to 'ease on down, ease on down the rooaad!' Getting into see the Wiz was akin to slipping past the velvet ropes of Studio 54 without appearing on the guest list: a tough sell. A fine, fine flick!

A small revelation was that it was directed by Sidney Lumet. Sidney is much more well known for gritty, realer-than-real, method-acting classics like Dog Day Afternoon, Serpico, and Network and completely out of his element in Wiz land.

But the big revelation is that I now know who killed Michael Jackson.

I'm positive.

At first I thought it must be the people who did Michael Jackson's makeup for The Wiz.

Look closely at him here. See that black crap smeared all over his nose?

When did his nose start shrinking?

No need to think, I'll tell you: long about just after the Wiz finished up filming, that's when.

The horrible truthiness of it is frightening.

And the rest of the makeup! It's much harder to see it, since it blends into the color of his flesh. Well, to be specific, the color of his flesh circa 1978.

My supposition is that this insidious, toxic pigment-destroying makeup gestated in MJ's DNA, slowly releasing Diprivan into his system, hooking him on the shit, while simultaneously robbing him of color and eventually of his life.

Then it hit me: no, it couldn't be the makeup folks ..

Perhaps the makeup people were merely unwitting accomplices in this grand conspiracy.

But follow the evidence trail: Who supplied the makeup? Who manufactured it? Or maybe the truth(iness) is closer to home: Who had access to it on set? Diana? Nipsey? Pryor?

Or maybe Sidney Lumet?

Yes, yes. Sidney!

Perhaps - oh, I'm sure now, no 'perhaps'! - he had Michael in mind to play the teenage poet/heroin addict Jim Carroll in a screen adaption of his book, 'The Basketball Diaries'.

A real method-actor's writer/director would salivate at such a challenge!

He needed first to turn Michael into a drug addicted and very pale Irish/Catholic kid.
But Michael mustn't know! It had to be 'real'!

Michael needed to 'feel' Jim Carroll, it needed to be a 'natural' transformation.

Sidney, you mad, mad, method genius!

But something went wrong.

Sidney had, in all his meticulous planning, forgotten a basic truth: Michael couldn't act.

It all fell apart at that point.

Michael became the Moonwalker, his nose slowly dissolved away, he vanished into a translucent fog of pigmentation and Neverland fantasies.

And Leo DiCaprio eventually played Jim Carroll many, many years later in the mid-90s to deafening indifference.

I must bring this Strasberg-ion, madness-in-the-method travesty to light!

A book! A movie!

And Sidney will direct!

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