I am waiting at Washington Dulles International Airport for the next flight out to Los Angeles. A storm delayed my flight from SA, so I missed my connecting one out of here. I had planned out what I would do when I got to LA pretty well, I thought. I’d arrive, take a shuttle to the car hire, get the car I’d pre-booked and head out for the almost 3 hour drive to Santa Barbara where Michael Jackson’s Neverland Ranch is. That was where a public viewing of his body was set to take place on Friday morning local time (SA time Friday afternoon). It had the makings of a great morning drive live crossing for the stations.
But the Jackson family had other ideas. It backtracked on that one and the fans that had already started making their way to Neverland had to make another plan. And now, I too have to make another plan…
There are a few other places people have been gathering. One is the Encino home of Michael’s parents – that’s where Kay Burley and the rest of the world’s media have been camping outside of – and then there’s the Hollywood Walk of Fame where Michael Jackson’s star is, and also the Beverly Hills rented home where he collapsed.
I’ve just heard that that the latest news on the funeral is that it will be held on Tuesday at the Staples Centre. Apparently AEG – the guys behind the comeback concerts Michael was meant to do – own this huge venue in downtown LA which is home to the LA Lakers basketball team. It’s also been said that they will help foot the bill – which is expected to be costly. There’s also talk of an entry fee, which makes me wonder how much someone would charge to go to someone’s funeral. Even if that someone is Michael Jackson…
It’s the Fourth of July weekend here in the States so the airport is a buzz with people going on holiday. The bookstores are full of magazines and newspapers with MJ’s face on them. Time, Newsweek, People – all have commemorative editions of his life. The tabloid OK! has a headline screaming, last pics of Michael. Great – just the kind of tact we’ve come to know these kinds of publications for.
Last night I just came back from my first ever sporting match here in South Africa: Brazil versus Bafana Bafana. What a great night, incredible atmosphere and such pride for our boys who did us proud even though they lost 1-0. But then the Tweets and Facebook status updates started coming through…Michael Jackson was taken to hospital after suffering a cardiac arrest.
As soon as I got home, I switched onto CNN. They were going with him being taken to hospital. But Sky and BBC were saying reports from celeb news site, TMZ, said he was dead.
Could it be true?
Then CNN said he was in a coma – for a brief moment, I thought there might still be hope…
Thriller was released in 1982 – the year I was born. My mother gave me the song as part of a CD compilation for my 21st birthday. He was a part of my music DNA. A younger colleague of mine updated her status saying, “So Michael Jackson died, what’s the big hoo-haa?” Despite all the controversy we’ll never know what truly went on in that child-adult mind of his. Perhaps she doesn’t get it, but I hope many others do.
RIP Michael Jackson: 1958-2009
So it’s been a few days since I was bathing in a sea of celebrities.I have literally gone, in the space of a few short days, from Cannes to Sebokeng to Auckland Park. That’s one of the best parts of my job. I get to see so many places in the world – and indeed South Africa – which is what I want to do.
The boys from Brothers&Sisters popped in for a visit the other day – and caused such a stir among the ladies in the office. Luke McFarlane and Dave Annable say the new season of the show, which airs in August, is filled with more even more family drama. Wouldn’t expect anything else!
The trial of the former matron at the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls has been postponed again. It’s so strange, sitting in that empty white room, to think that such a big story takes place in such small surroundings. Virginia “Tiny” Makopo looks very much like a school girl herself, with her braids and small stature. She’s been accused of 13 counts of abuse, including one claim that she rubbed custard in the girls’ hair. The case starts up again at the Sebokeng Magistrates Court at the end of August.
The Auckland Park trip came about because of the protest march by a whole lot of actors, directors, writers and producers to the SABC HQ. I had never walked from Milpark along Kingsway Avenue to Auckland Park before so that was a new experience! Gotta love having the unions there – no-one knows how to protest like they do! Letha imali yami!
And that’s it folks. Another Cannes Film Festival done and dusted for another year. In spite of all the global financial woes, it was still an eventful festival, with many a deal signed and many a connection made.
A big thank you to Amarula who helped send me to cover the world’s biggest and most popular film festival. It really doesn’t get any better than this when it comes to movie-making and filmstars. Highlights for me this year include:
* Seeing the strides South Africans are making in terms of getting their film projects and ideas out there into the world. I am particularly looking forward to seeing our own animated feature on the big screen, as well as the ‘Spud’ movie.
* Sharing a laugh with Robert Pattinson: This guy is such a cutie, but he really doesn’t have it all that easy. Wherever he went large crowds of girls followed and screamed their hearts out for him. Speaking to him, I found him to be a really down-to-earth guy who just likes having fun and playing music.
* Bumping (literally) into Joshua Jackson – aka Pacey from ‘Dawson’s Creek’ – he was wondering around the Carlton hotel where his girlfriend Diane Kruger was giving interviews for ‘Inglourious Basterds.’
* Being among the first to see Quentin Tarantino’s newest film, ‘Inglourious Basterds’ and witnessing firsthand the passion he has for making films.
* Feeling the magic that descends upon Cannes this time every year – there really is a certain je ne sais quoi in the air. A floral smell envelopes the Palais de Festival which is the hub of it all, and there is an excitement that fills it too. Don’t get me wrong, it can be crazy dashing from one place to another and trying to hold your own when 3 999 other journalists are trying to get the same story as you, but it’s worth it in the end.
Last night I made one last walk down the red carpet for the closing ceremony and last film screening. The jury, headed by French actress Isabelle Huppert, came out one by one and sat on stage. They handed out a number of prizes, including best male and female performance, which went to Christoph Waltz (Inglourious Basterds) and Charlotte Gainsbourgh (Antichrist) respectively. I was incredibly happy that Christoph was recognized for his role in Tarantino’s film because he has been the talk of the town as the show-stealer of the film. You have to see see him when the film releases later in the year.
Neither Inglourious Basterds nor Antichrist picked up the festival’s biggest prize, the Palme d’Or. That went to Austrian director Michael Haneke’s pre-Nazi drama called The White Ribbon. I unfortunately didn’t see that one. That’s the problem – it may be a film festival, but you are so busy running around that you don’t necessarily get to see many films.
Christoph Waltz wins Best Performance by an Actor
I went to the closing party which was held by Audi and featured a DJ set by Will.i.Am of the Black Eyed Peas. Apparently Kylie Minogue played at the club, called VIP Room, on Friday. Will is one talented guy – not only does he perform musically, he can also act. His role in Gavin Hood’s X-Men Origins: Wolverine was fantastic.
Over the course of the weekend the people that I had come to know here in Cannes made their way back to their home countries – Croatia, Germany, the UK, the US and Sweden – and others just headed back to Paris. To end, I think another classic Cannes image is required…
Crowds mobbing Robert Pattinson
Only kidding – this is the true classic image: Cannes, you beauty!