Quantcast

Video of the Day

Masthead

Editor-in-Chief
Alex Carnevale
(e-mail/tumblr/twitter)

Managing Editor
Kara VanderBijl
(e-mail/tumblr/twitter)

Features Editor
Mia Nguyen
(e-mail/tumblr/twitter)

Senior Editor
Durga Chew-Bose
(e-mail/tumblr/twitter)

Senior Editor
Brittany Julious
(e-mail/tumblr/twitter)

Live and Active Affiliates
Search TR


follow us in feedly

Classic Recordings
Robert Altman Week

Tuesday
Jun292010

« In Which Michael Jackson and Diana Ross Become MiDiana »

When I Think of Home

by REA MCNAMARA

The Wiz

dir. Sidney Lumet

Somewhere between moving its operations to Los Angeles (but definitely before that Motown 25 Tribute), Berry Gordy Jr. decided to re-assemble his Hitsville U.S.A. factory line into the motion pictures business. Motown had long established a reputation for deftly packaging blackness as mass entertainment, so a big budget adaptation of The Wiz, that 1975 Tony Award-winning "super soul" Wizard of Oz b-side, was a sure bet. (Especially if it were to be headlined by the only two Motown acts he ever managed, Diana Ross and the Jackson 5's Michael Jackson.)

Sidney Lumet directed the musical with typical Rotten Apple grit, long shooting the extremes between a hazy 'Poppy Love Perfume Co.' hootchified street corner, or green-tinting the then-gleaming World Trade Center plaza as an Emerald City louched out with Norma Kamali parchute dresses and Halston slim sarongs. But that, alongside Quincy Jones' Oscar-nominated original music scoring, wasn't enough: the musical's $30 million price tag was box office poison, and some critics reacted adversarially to either Diana Ross not being naif enough as Dorothy, or Joel Schumacher's est-ian script.

Yet perhaps Dorothy's plaintive 'Are You There God?' lyrical request in "Home" was too close to what the Sound of Young America had become for Diana and Michael: nothing more than a K-Tel Records Greatest Hits compilation. "In the film, Dorothy was facing her fear and that was the same thing I was going through that year in New York," Diana Ross told Elin Schoen in an intimate Good Housekeeping interview of that fall/winter of 1977. "I was really facing the fact that I was out there on my own for the first time in my life. It scared me, but I got a chance to face all of the fears." For Diana and Michael, Beverly Hills was "Kansas"; New York City was the Oz of disco-fied glitter chic, and a chance finally to grow up, together.

When the Jackson 5 first came to California in 1970, they all moved into Diana's Hollywood Hills home. Michael was 11; Diana, 26. "I remember that we used to go out to buy paints and easels and we did artwork together," said the mother, lover and sister of Michael, who inspired in him a lifelong interest in art. "I am pleased that I touched him in the early days of his life."

Black outs, block fires, bankruptcy: if Oz was New York City, then Studio 54 was Emerald City. For a brief moment in his life, Michael was a grown man. Him and his sister La Toya shared a downtown apartment free from Joseph and Katherine, and he "danced almost every night at 54 with Liza Minnelli," said Michael. "We'd talk about Judy Garland." Diana was there too, singing in the DJ booth.

"The two singers wear matching costumes: slacks, shirt, and tie," wrote Hilton Als of a live televised "Ease On Down The Road" crisscross kickstep special that replayed constantly on Paradise Garage's large video screen. "Jackson dances next to Ross, adding polish to her appealingly jerky moves; he does Ross better than Ross." 

Oh Mahogany Lady, how were you always "washed out in the bright light"? Michael must have slept on this question every night in the solitude of his candle-lit Diana Ross shrine.

The Wiz shot six days a week, so most nights were spent alone: at home in the Sherry Netherland co-op still reeling from the first "Mr. Diana Ross" divorce, or sitting in the boardroom at 19, wrestling post-breach from Philly International to Epic.

Did they find in each other the yellow brick road to self-actualization? Diana called Michael “an inspiration”; he declared his intentions to marry her in an Ebony interview. They both had grown up, and friend to friend, had finally loosened that Gordy-an knot.

"Michael will you come?" At the edge of the Forum Theatre stage, she gyrated in a clingy sequined white, waiting for her 'Muscle man'. He emerges to turn the pink spotlight, corkscrew kicking out the bottomline in tight blue jeans. They rock around and round until she passes the microphone; he leaps away to solo so she can finally dip down low.

But Michael was an Off The Wall supernova, a triplicate peak luminosity soon to be scaled by moonwalk. He moved mountains and charity singles; she however, was now the eclipsed light curve who flooded Central Park with her rain dance.

For the sparrow and crow who suffered everything and nothing, the twilight was interiors filled with mirrors and poses. Ross renovated a Tobacco Heiress fortress in Greenwich, Connecticut with gold records and Rembrandts. Michael retreated to Neverland's carnival rides and dollhouses, lining walls with his mortality.

The Wiz will always be the cellulite proof of their then-brand-new post-Motown world — nightlife, record sessions, sound stages and late night phone calls. The scarecrow's knock-kneed walk was an abridged farewell to Michael's ex-child stardom; Diana was Dorothy, and by the time the film wrapped in 1978, she had gone inside of her self, love overflowing the “long suffered-emptiness...I, like Dorothy, had found everything I was searching for was right there with me all along."

Rea McNamara is a contributor to This Recording. This is her first appearance in these pages. She is a writer living in Toronto. You can find her website here. She tumbls here.

digg delicious reddit stumble facebook twitter subscribe

"Ease on Down the Road" - Diana Ross & Michael Jackson (mp3)

"Go Bang 3" - Gang of Two (mp3)

"Friend to Friend (Original CHIC Mix)" - Diana Ross (mp3)

Credits

DOROTHY/DIANA Sarah Taylor

SCARECROW/MICHAEL Daniyah-Daniel Gordon

EMERALD CITY BUS BOYS The House of Monroe

DIRECTION Rea McNamara

PHOTOGRAPHY Alyssa Katherine Faoro

STYLING Filipe Ventena

MAKE-UP Roxanne DeNobrega

HAIR Israel Garcia of Salon Daniel

ASSISTANCE Jeba Bowers Murphy

SPECIAL THANKS: 69 Vintage, Chasse Gardée, Gadabout Vintage, Sian Llewelyn, Lost+Found, Rozaneh Vintage Clothing, Textile & Accessories, Todd-Rod Skimmins

Shot at Studio 107, Toronto

actual cast photo, 1978  

References (38)

References allow you to track sources for this article, as well as articles that were written in response to this article.
  • Response
    In Which Michael Jackson and Diana Ross Become MiDiana - Home - This Recording
  • Response
    Response: ustore.ae
    Not everyone will agree though on all the basics that are recommended, but here is what I have found that help golfers increase their golf score and accuracy.
  • Response
    Response: ippartners.co.za
    Really impressed with the amount work you put into this article , thanks.
  • Response
    Response: jKzBQGhN
    In Which Michael Jackson and Diana Ross Become MiDiana - Home - This Recording
  • Response
    Neat Website, Maintain the wonderful work. Appreciate it.
  • Response
    In Which Michael Jackson and Diana Ross Become MiDiana - Home - This Recording
  • Response
    I need a computer program that will automatically start another program and not let that program close for a work computer. So basically, when the computer starts up, this program I am looking for will start a work-related program and force it to stay open, so that the only use of ...
  • Response
    What Is The Best Way To Import MySpace Blogs To Facebook?
  • Response
    I've downloaded a few wordpress blog themes from other websites. They are in the zip file format. How do I apply them? Can I get a step by step guide?.
  • Response
    I love to write. I mean, I really love to write. It's probably the only passion I have stronger than love. But I need to know what college to go to.. . What college should I go to for Creative Writing?.
  • Response
    how can i start a blog without having my own website?
  • Response
    I am struggling with this problem, unknowingly i started importing other person blog posts..............which i want to disable. Please help me out.
  • Response
    I have three blogs on tumblr under the same email address. How do I delete one of those blogs without deleting the other two?. Preferably, I'd like someone to answer whom has encountered this problem before and solved it without deleting their other blogs.. Thanks!.
  • Response
    Where is a good place start a website for business at a very low price?
  • Response
    Response: yacon syrup
    I need to import about 50 of 458 posts from a blogspot blog into wordpress. If I use the plug in import tool, I am concerned that it will duplicate the posts that were already imported in a previous batch. Also the prior posts have been re-categorized. I need to hold ...
  • Response
    How do you delete your blog comment that you left on someone else blog?
  • Response
    I open it then something pops up saying:. . Firefox has stopped working.. Windows can check online for a solution to the problem.. . So can anyone help to fix it?.
  • Response
    Response: vehicle insurance
    I'm looking joomla template to design site for one hindu temple.? Any suggestion for template and components for Joomla ?. Mainly looking for event details , picture gallery and blogs..
  • Response
    Response: experto seo
    get top quality seo web available
  • Response
    Response: seovolución
    I was just wondering what computer software you would need to make business cards or labels from a home computer. Is is easy or even worth the time or money..
  • Response
    I have a blog using Blogspot. I would like to ban a specific person from viewing and/or commenting. I am not looking to make the entire blog password-protected or moderate comments. I just want to ban a specific IP address. How can I do this?.
  • Response
    Response: true tobacco
    Can I copyright 20 pages of old newspaper articles ?
  • Response
    see here for top quality dog arthritis glucosamine available
  • Response
    get greatest posicionamiento web barcelona around
  • Response
    I can't seem to find a way on how to start as a blogger. I could use some help on how to start blog .
  • Response
    Response: arthritis for dogs
    click here for greatest symptoms of arthritis in dogs available
  • Response
    Response: corporate dealers
    Someone left me a comment on my blogger. I have clicked to publish the comment. Now I wish to delete this comment. How do I do that?. .
  • Response
    go here for best canine arthritis pain around
  • Response
    Hi. I'm looking for a good site that offers creative writing prompts or creative writing exercises since I heard that anyone who is serious about writing should do creative writing exercises. So does anyone know of a good one?.
  • Response
    go here for best consultoria seo available
  • Response
    Response: seo españa
    go here for best posicionamiento web around
  • Response
    Response: posicionar web
    get greatest posicionamiento web barcelona anywhere
  • Response
    Response: internet
    What is the average start up cost for a high profile website?
  • Response
    Response: home buying advice
    I want to know if I should do a trademark or copyright for the following.... . This pseudonym is used too make music (band) photography, writing and website. . . I want to own the name and also protect the work under it, what is the best way of doing this? ...
  • Response
    Response: italy property
    What are some really good poetry blogs or websites to post journal entries?
  • Response
    I was diagnosed with celiac over a year ago and have started inventing my own gluten-free recipes. I've gotten so many requests from people that I want to start a blog to start posting them. What free blog websites are out there and which ones are the easiest to access/most likely ...
  • Response
    I'm doing a project about spectators and am trying to find peoples opinions and feelings from the olympics (whether watching it in beijing or on the tv).. . I searched technorati for "olympics" and there are sooo many results that are much more recent and come up first, but aren't what ...
  • Response
    I am thinking of creating ebook of articles that are not copyrighted.. How , where can I go to get it?.

Reader Comments (4)

I love this!!!

June 29, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMolly

I effin loved The Wiz....I'm easing on down the road as we speak.

June 29, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterg-dizzle

BTW, We have created a MJ/DR Forum in association with different partnersites, about they both together, but also with a big separate Michael and Diana section. We would be glad if you join in ^^
The Michael Jackson and Diana Ross Forum

December 8, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterglam

Like other manufacturers, nike shoes is can make savings in the distribution and sales expenses when it used online shop.You should therefore attention to any promotion of main such festival in Thanksgiving and Christmas. nike running shoes discount is available online purchasing customers nike running shoes.

December 21, 2010 | Unregistered Commenternike dunk

PostPost a New Comment

Enter your information below to add a new comment.

My response is on my own website »
Author Email (optional):
Author URL (optional):
Post:
 
All HTML will be escaped. Hyperlinks will be created for URLs automatically.