“Bad 25” is a “rockumentary” that marks the creative reunion of two black entertainment powerhouses. The film—which makes its broadcast TV premiere Thanksgiving night on ABC—reunites director Spike Lee with Michael Jackson, the late King of Pop and the most successful entertainer of all time according to the Guinness Book of World Records. Having first collaborated in 1996 for the music video “They Don’t Care About Us,” Lee now works with Jackson posthumously to create an informative and fascinating documentary.
Offering a behind-the-scenes peek into the making of Jackson’s “Bad” album, Lee’s film reveals how the King of Pop felt duty-bound to top sales of his 1982 masterpiece “Thriller,” which remains the best-selling album of all time (“Bad” ranks fifth in all-time album sales).
Produced under the auspices of the Michael Jackson estate, “Bad 25” gleans insights from musicians who worked and toured with Jackson, including director Martin Scorcese, singer Sheryl Crow, keyboardist Greg Phillinganes and more.
BlackAmericaWeb.com recently caught up with Spike Lee, and got the 411 on the documentary, Michael’s enduring influence and more.
BlackAmericaWeb.com: Describe how you made your creative decisions on this documentary.
Lee: The manifesto for this documentary was that we wanted to deal with Michael’s creative process. This documentary is not focused on anything but his music. I think there’s far too much written and talked about Michael’s other stuff, so let’s just deal with his music. That made it very easy. People were more than happy to talk about Michael’s creative process, because they were a witness to genius. They were there in Westlake Studios, or they were there at Michael’s personal home studio, creating these pieces of music that would stand the test of time.
BlackAmericaWeb: There’s a lot of footage in the film that few people have seen before.
Lee: All the stuff came from the estate. A film like this would not be possible, because with the involvement of the estate—that stuff is from the vault. There’s loads of stuff in this film that the world has never seen before, ever. Stuff like the rehearsal footage, or the clips of Michael Jackson videotaping Siedah Garrett’s demo for “Man in the Mirror.” There’s a lot of amazing footage, and some of it was shot by Michael himself.
BlackAmericaWeb: The documentary chronicles the creation of most of the songs featured on “Bad,” but you devote the most time to “Man in the Mirror.” Why?
Lee: I think it was either (journalists) Jason King or Joe Vogel. One of them made the observation that when John Lennon died, people turned to “Imagine,” and when Michael died people turned to “Man in the Mirror.” That’s the reason we focused a little more on “Man in the Mirror.”