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Michael Jackson was that special kind of talent who naturally understood that singing was only one part of what fans would take away from an experience. It was in that way that he, excuse the term, popped when it came to appearing on TV.
So, in honor of the second anniversary of Jackson’s death, The Hollywood Reporter’s Live Feed presents our picks for Jackson’s five most genius TV moments.
1. Jackson premieres the “Moonwalk”: The star amazed viewers in 1983 when he unveiled what would become his signature move: The “Moonwalk.” It was during a performance of “Billie Jean” during the Motown 25: Yesterday, Today, Forever special on NBC. It would inspire a lot of people to try and fail at doing the dance. But of course, imitation is the most sincerest form of flattery. (Watch it at the 4:15 mark.)
2. The “Thriller” video: It’s an insult to call this a “video” as it was really a 14-minute short film and musical – directed, by the way, by John Landis (The Twilight Zone, An American Werewolf in London), who also wrote the screenplay. It changed the way we see and what was possible with music videos. Sure, currently we have our fill of zombies and werewolves, but would we take them seriously if they sang and danced? No one was laughing when Jackson pulled it off in 1983.
3. The Super Bowl Halftime show: Decidedly one of the best ever performances during a Super Bowl halftime show, Jackson took crowd participation to a whole new level during his performance of “Heal The World” in 1993 with more than 3,000 children on the field and a little help from the people in the stands.
4. “We Are The World”: What better way to show your star power than get as many A-Listers as you can singing in a room for charity? Jackson did it with the original “We Are The World” in 1984 benefitting Africa, which in conjunction with the benefit event Hands Across America, raised nearly $100 million.
5. A wee Jackson impresses the king of TV. It was 1969 when Michael Jackson and The Jackson 5 first appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show and left not only with the most influential person on TV’s approval, but with America charmed. With that accomplished, it was on to conquering the world.
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Robert De Niro