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'It's time to celebrate Michael'

October 28, 2009|Yvonne Villarreal

Dancers outfitted in crystal jumpsuits dangled from oversized outdoor chandeliers. Silver-gloved fans sang along to "Billy Jean" and "The Way You Make Me Feel." The time was finally here. This was it.

Celebrities such as Jennifer Lopez, Paula Abdul, Adam Lambert and JC Chasez gathered at the Nokia Theatre in downtown Los Angeles on Tuesday for the world premiere of "Michael Jackson's This Is It," the highly anticipated feature-length documentary detailing the late pop idol's planned comeback concerts.

Approximately 5,500 guests were expected to attend.

The heartbreak that led to this event was put aside by enthusiastic onlookers who dressed in Jackson T-shirts and fedoras, waiting for the spectacle to begin. By 4 p.m., clips from the film were being shown on the jumbo screen in the L.A. Live Plaza, and media from around the globe had thronged a U-shaped receiving line to speak to those on hand to remember Jackson's musical legacy.

Dancer Dres Reid, who is featured in the film, described the crowd outside the Nokia as "surreal." He shared funny memories, like the time Jackson, wearing "incredibly bright" orange pants, showed off his dance moves during a ballet rehearsal.

For The Record
Los Angeles Times Thursday, October 29, 2009 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 4 National Desk 1 inches; 37 words Type of Material: Correction
'This Is It': A caption that accompanied an article in Wednesday's Calendar on the premiere of the film "Michael Jackson's This Is It" identified one of his brothers as Randy Jackson. The photo was of Jackie Jackson.

"He was amazing," Reid said. "The influence he's had on dance, in music . . . There's no one like him. There will never be anyone like him."

"American Idol" winner David Cook bobbed his head during interviews as some of Jackson's songs filtered out of the speakers. The singer was eager to get inside to see the movie.

"I'm expecting a Michael Jackson show," Cook said. "I think anything short of that, they wouldn't put it out. Without Michael Jackson, the bar is definitely lower for everyone else."

Another "American Idol" alum, Lambert, cited the "Thriller" video as his fondest Jackson memory and was excited to get a glimpse into the "artistic genius."

"I'm really curious to see what went behind the creative process," he added.

Nigel Lythgoe, executive producer of "American Idol" and "So You Think You Can Dance," said Jackson had had a noticeable impact on the thousands of contestants who audition for both reality TV competitions.

"He's more of an influence than all the greats -- Gene Kelly, James Brown. He is it. He wasn't so much a brilliant dancer, but a brilliant mover. It's sad that it takes tragic circumstances to create a legend . . . but he was always a legend in my eyes."

All smiles as he spoke to the media, Travis Payne, Jackson's associate producer-choreographer, said the star "would have loved this turnout."

"It's time to celebrate Michael," he said, "to rejoice in all his wonderful messages of peace and love. People are going to enjoy seeing the Michael I always got to see."

"This Is It" director Kenny Ortega echoed those sentiments.

"I hope the fans find satisfaction, that fans [who had tickets to the tour] will understand what Michael had planned for them," he said.

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yvonne.villarreal@latimes.com

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