MY MICHAEL JACKSON MOMENT
Covering the circus that was the Liza Minnelli – David Gest wedding in 2002 for Howard Stern, I watched a number of celebrities pass through the side “VIP Entrance” of the stunning Marble Collegiate Church.
Ashford and Simpson drove up in a Rolls Royce and realized there was not as much press at the side entrance, myself and about forty other reporters were at, as there was in the front and got back in their car and drove around the block to the front.
Carol Channing – the most fabulously, wonderfully real celebrity at that wedding – arrived in a taxi (the only attendee I saw to do so), ran across the street in the highest high heels to shake fans’ hands and then spoke so patiently with every reporter. She looked amazing and was so spunky and fun. I never loved her more.
Then, there was a pause two minutes before we were told the wedding was scheduled to begin.
The police scurried to close the entire street to cars and passers by, just stumbling their way from one St. Patrick’s Day festivity to the next, that March 16.
All that was heard was just a quiet hum for a minute or so.
“What’s going on?” Many murmured.
Something was happening. Guards started scrambling. Two police officers looked at the press cluster and said with the fiercest look in their eyes “do not leave this area.”
To the paparazzi and camera men that translated to “stand at attention with your elbows strategically placed.”
Did Liza come to her senses? Did she toss the 3.5 carat Tiffany diamond she flashed at us earlier in the day? Was this joke of a wedding – this spectacle – coming to a halt faster than Rosie O’Donnell’s Chevy Suburban in front of the “Entertainment Tonight” tent set up outside?
Finally, a big, honking, black, shiny Cadillac limousine drove up to our entrance. It stood there for a minute or four without a door opening.
The stringy tired-looking non-Liza fan New York Post reporter standing next to me was getting increasingly annoyed it was taking so long – she wanted to meet her boyfriend at a bar uptown.
We waited. Was someone coming in or was someone running out?
Finally, a security guard got the nod to open the passenger side back door.
Immediately, the fans across the street had a better view than the press people did. They began cheering as Liz Taylor exited the stretch.
She flashed her celebrity smile and waved standing about four feet away from the car – which was odd. Why was she not walking the press line?
What was also odd was that she had on silk slippers. We just thought they were “lady of a certain age” comfortable.
The door to the limo didn’t close.
After Liz had her moment a huge, deafening, throbbing screech overtook the cavernous New York street we were standing on, rattling our bones.
There he was. Mr. Michael Jackson, live – in person stepping out of the limousine. Fans of all shapes, sizes and backgrounds pretty much lost their minds.
No matter what anyone thought about his personal life, this man epitomized the phrase “living icon.”
It was apparent he was not in his right mind. My notes at the time say “his soul had a fog about it. dynamic. huge presence and energy”
He did a huge royal wave to his beyond blown away fans across the street and grabbed Liz’s hand. Despite whatever he was feeling he knew he was making a moment of a lifetime for the fans.
He stood their patiently, shifting every few seconds so everyone got a good photo. There was no doubt he had done this before.
What struck me was his hair. It was so shiny and looked so soft. I wanted to touch it. It was as dark, shiny and flowy as a yard of silk. He wore a white collared shirt, black jacket accessorized with a blinding diamond broach and black tuxedo pants.
His hair primarily covered his pale, almost gaunt face. He rarely lifted his head up completely. He towered above Liz in height.
Oh, and then Diana Ross got out of the limo with whom I later learned was her son, Evan. Her huge, huge, huge unmanageable hair with a personality of its own flying all over.
What was most surprising there was that she let Michael upstage her by getting out of the limo last.
The three icons stood for photos, however didn’t answer one question.
Finally they shuffled, literally, the twelve feet to the door of the church and my Michael Moment – the media money shot of the day – became “HiStory”.
THEBPLOT – THE AREA’S MOST VIEWED FEATURES WEBSITE