The legendary Michael Jackson was part of one of the most talked about moments in TV broadcast history. The Motown 25: Yesterday, Today, Forever special originally broadcast on NBC in 1983 featured a young Jackson doing the moonwalk for the first time on TV while performing “Billie Jean.”
Now that performance, among many others, is available on the newly released DVD version that includes 20 additional minutes that never made it to broadcast.
The special edition 6-DVD set includes other additional features including interviews, rehearsal footage, featurettes and a roundtable discussion with Smokey Robinson and members of the Temps and Tops.
Producer Suzanne DePasse, who produced the original show, says that the NBC show left out a lot due to time constraints.
“There are 20 minutes of things we had to cut out for broadcast. We only had 2 hours for broadcast and our show went a little long. We had to cut out some performances, a few Stevie Wonder songs. Trim, trim, trim, we were fighting like hell in the editing room.”
One of the most enduring legends of the show is that Diana Ross snatched the mic away from former Supreme Mary Wilson during the finale. DePasse says that urban legend has been exaggerated over the years.
“That thing has taken on a life of its own. What happened was most people had microphones for the finale and we had rehearsed Diana bringing Mr. Gordy down on stage. She was just enthusiastic and she was just jumping the gun. All Diana did was tell Mary ‘Not now.’ I think she took her hand and kind of stuck to the script. Everyone was so enthusiastic that night and caught up in the moment but it was nothing that required medical attention.
As far as whether or not Rick James was invited, DePasse says he was, but was simply unavailable.
“It was a miracle we got the people we got,” says DePasse. “Marvin Gaye, the Jacksons reunion, the Smokey Robinson and the Miracles reunion, the Temps and the Tops and the battle of the stars, and the show was hosted by Richard Pryor! Then we had some of the new acts like DeBarge. It was definitely the place to be that night and its only taken us 31 years to get it on DVD!”
Click the links above to hear the entire interview!