At the end of June, Michael Jackson was less than two weeks away from the start of his This Is It concert series, the hugely theatrical shows that were going to reintroduce the singer to the world and reinforce his image as an entertainment icon. Jackson, his director Kenny Ortega and the rest of their team had come to a point where they could finally see the exhaustive rehearsals ending and the start of the live performances beginning.
Of course, Jackson passed away before that could ever happen. Now, in an exclusive interview with MTV News, Ortega recounted those final rehearsals and gave insight into MJ’s mind-set at what turned out to be the end of his life.
“We had a really great couple of days,” Ortega told us. “Michael was just in this new kind of place and everyone was just kind of believing. I think there was this feeling in the room, in the air, we all could feel, like you were on a plane. We’re packed, we’re going. You could see London, you could smell it, you were ready.”
Ortega and Jackson had spent two years simply discussing what kind of show they wanted to put on. Then, one night, Jackson called Ortega with the idea to do the London show. “This is it!” he told Ortega, who responded, “You should call the tour ‘This Is It’! ”
Ortega revealed that during the last rehearsal at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, Jackson was in particularly good spirits. He was looking forward to working the next day on an illusion they’d designed with one of magician David Copperfield’s collaborators. He was looking forward to being back onstage in front of his fans.
Ortega explained, “Michael stood out in front of the stage that night with me and looked up at the rehearsal and said, ‘This is the dream. We did it good, Kenny, we did it. Very good.’
“There was this anticipation of tomorrow, this anticipation of London and this great feeling about what we’d accomplished over the past couple of nights,” Ortega added. “He told me he was happy. He had nothing creatively or critically to say to anyone other than, ‘I love you, thank you, everyone’s doing a great job and I’ll see you tomorrow.’ ”
Don’t miss the “Michael Jackson’s This Is It” premiere special, airing on MTV and VH1 on Tuesday, October 27, at 8:30 p.m. ET! “Michael Jackson’s This Is It” opens for a limited engagement on October 27 and wide on October 28.
Check out everything we’ve got on “Michael Jackson’s This Is It.”