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The inside scoop on the Cebu inmates' international Michael Jackson video
Behind-the-scenes dish and photos of the recent "This Is It" collaboration featuring Cebu's dancing inmates.
By: Jansen Musico  |   Published on: Jan 27, 2010 - 9:41pm

Michael Jackson's choreographer for 18 years,  Travis Payne, was in  the Philippines recently to teach the renowned inmates of the Cebu Provincial Detention and Rehabilitation Center (CPDRC) the steps to the King of Pop's "The Drill" and "They Don't Care About Us." The performance, immortalized on video and currently making waves on the net, serves as a tribute piece for the late Michael Jackson.

In a January 25 interview on CNN's The Joy Behar Show, Payne discussed his desire to go to the Philippines and work on a number with the inmates. He explained that Jackson enjoyed watching them perform through their YouTube channel.

"We first learned of these prisoners from the Cebu prefecture in the Philippines [when] one of Michael's fans sent me a link and they were doing "Thriller". I showed it to Michael and he loved it. He just got such a kick out of it. Imagine 1,500 people moving in unison to his music... It's great. All of the things we had done over the years with computer-generated images, they were actually doing."

"I knew that once Michael passed, we would be looking for opportunities to sort of reach out and be with his fans. It just hit me like a ton of bricks. We should go to the Philippines, because he loved it. He loved the area to perform in, but he also loved seeing the prisoners. Sony was able to work it out... so we found ourselves there."

Payne, together with two of Jackson's dancers, Dres Reid and Daniel Celebre, set out to Cebu on January 17 and 18 to choreograph a number for and dance with the inmates in the video. got to chat with Ernest Escaler, who organized the latest Michael Jackson project, about some production secrets and details of the performance. Also, check out the exclusive behind-the-scenes photos from the production.

Travis Payne expressed his desire to work with the inmates some time after the passing of Michael Jackson. He said that he asked for Sony's help and ended up in Cebu, but how did all this really come about?

We planned this last December... I was asked by Sony Pictures to organize [this performance] for the launch of the DVD and Blu-Ray edition of "This Is It." We had to keep it quiet because they wanted to premiere this event on CNN [originally with] Anderson Cooper. [But since he's] in Haiti, it was premiered on The Joey Behar Show.

(Escaler is a good friend of Sony Pictures Senior-Vice President/Worldwide Publicity Fritz Friedman, with whom he went to the Ateneo.)

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  • igeramos
    So, that's the story, morning glory.
    Feb 01 2010 @ 01:37am     Reply  
  • Makamasa
    Fair enough. Thanks.
    Jan 28 2010 @ 02:53pm     Reply  
  • msison
    Dear Makamasa,

    I certainly would include that kind of information, whether they went to Payatas High School or the Ateneo. I found it interesting that the Sony SVP for Worldwide Publicity went to school in the Philippines and I decided to include information about his Philippine connection which facilitated the operations that made this whole project possible.


    Jan 28 2010 @ 02:47pm     Reply  
  • Makamasa
    With all the bad publicity right now about bad behavior of Senators and Congressmen coming from supposed-to-be reputable schools, I don't get it why do you have to include the name of the school where they both came from? If they happened to be classmates from Payatas High School, would you do the same?
    Jan 28 2010 @ 12:54pm     Reply  
    Amazing story! Sayang naman di na to nakita ni MJ:(
    Jan 28 2010 @ 11:14am     Reply  
  • msison
    Hi Print,

    I was the one who added that information, not Jansen. I myself do not come from the Ateneo, but the Ateneo has come to be known as "the Ateneo" in common parlance, "ateneo" being the Spanish form of "athenaeum," which is an institute of learning. It is akin to saying "the Institute" intead of saying just "Institute."


    Myrza Sison
    Jan 28 2010 @ 08:19am     Reply  
  • Print
    Talagang 'the' Ateneo. Atenista ka Jansen? Hindi naman natin sinasabing 'the' La Salle or 'the' San Beda di ba?

    Pero to be fair, ang graduate nila SVP ng Sony.
    Jan 27 2010 @ 11:51pm     Reply  
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