Lets Talk About Captain EO Starring Michael Jackson- Part 2

Written by Terri Hardin Jackson. Posted in Disney History, Disneyland Resort, Features

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Published on May 28, 2014 at 3:00 am with 12 Comments

UPDATE- Last week I discovered that my dear friend Bob Gurr is going on an adventure for a few weeks, so I’ve been invited to fill in for him with my articles while he’s away.  The timing couldn’t be better as it means you get my 3 part series faster. Whoo Hoo!

I was also interviewed on Combat Radio since last I checked in with you. This radio show has a lot of facets. My segment was on their Talk LA show, Friday mornings at 11. It has a free-for-all type of format.  It’s truly a fun format. Ethan, the king of Combat radio, is a terrific guy. Thanks Ethan.  

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Terri with Chandler Coates, Ethan Dettenmaier, Jennifer Hale, James Venable, and Nolan Moon.

 

LAST BUT NOT LEAST – I wish to urge all of you to come out to support the CPR Block Party happening on Tuesday June 3rd, 6am-10pm.  LA is going for the world record for the most people trained in CPR in one day. You can go to one of the following metro stations to be a part of the biggest training campaign in history.

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Union Station, NoHo Station, Universal City Station, Mariachi Station, and Vermont/Sunset Station.  It won’t take long and what you learn will save lives. I’ll see you there! CPRBlockParty.com

In honor of Michael Jackson’s latest album “Xcape,” and all of you who asked about Captain EO, here’s PART 2 of my three part story.

When last I left you Michael Jackson had just taken his seat next to me.  The entourage I mentioned that came in with Michael Jackson consisted of a lot of Disney executives, as well as his personal team.

As we all settled around the table, Francis Ford Coppola explained how things were going to work on his film.  First, we were going to go through this table reading and he invited us to share with him any thoughts we might have. Then we’d be in rehearsals for two weeks and in those rehearsals we’d do improvisation.

(For those not familiar with this term, Improvisation is an actors exercise to help them think more on their feet by coming up with their own dialogue at that exact moment.)

“Let’s begin.”
“Francis, may I record this table read?”
Michael’s question carried softly in the now quiet room.
“Of course, Michael.” Francis waited.

A man from the sidelines jumped up and ran toward the table.  He inserted himself between Michael and I, placed a tape recorder on the table, pushed a button and disappeared.  As I stared in quiet confusion at the device, I realized that this was one of Michael’s guys. Hmmm.

We began.  I actually sat there and listened to the reading, as I was a puppeteer, and the suit performers were reading the lines of the creatures.

Suddenly there was a long pause in the reading and I turned to look at Michael, it was his line.  There he sat fidgeting with the script. He’d lost his place and was frantically trying to reassemble the script.

Again, out of nowhere came a man.  Reaching in and taking the script from Michael Jackson and shuffling it in order better then any card dealer I’d seen in Las Vegas, finished, found the spot, and handed it back to Michael and again was gone.

“What the heck, man? Who the heck was that?”  I said, my eyes wide with surprise, as I looked at Michael.

Michael looked at me and smiled, then continued reading where we had left off.  I shook my head. I had never seen anything like this before.

We continued to read. Then, Michael began to cough and I looked over at him as he struggled to clear his throat.

A third man came out of nowhere, set down a glass of juice and was gone.

Michael began to drink the juice.

“Now wait just a dog gone minute, how the heck did you do that?”

Michael looked at me over the glass of juice..

“Wait, let me try,” and I closed my eyes and cleared my throat.  When I opened my eyes I looked at the table and moving my hands over the table, “Hey! Where’s my juice?”

Michael looked at me and giggled.

“You’re funny” He said and then continued to read.

The table read looked like it was going to finish without further incident, when Anjelica Huston realized that she was not playing the princess but only the wicked queen. . .  she wasn’t happy about this.

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“I want to play the Princess.”

Francis quipped, “Queen dear, you a bit old to play the princess.”  She chuffed at this.
“Okay, the Queen then.” Anjelica conceded.

For the last couple weeks, Disney had cast a young girl to play the princess at the end of the film. Costumes were in production for what Disney hoped would be the love interest for Captain EO.  This was a big problem.  I think if Francis Ford Coppola had his way, he would’ve told her he was going to go with the younger princess and that would be that.

Disney however, was worried that Anjelica may not do the part if she couldn’t play the Queen as well as the princess.  As she was up for an Academy Award, they asked Francis to comply.

So, the young princess and all her clothes were released and new costumes were created for the new queen, Anjelica Huston.  This is how show business works.

Once the reading was over, Francis asked us to assemble and get ready for our first improvisation session.

He separated the cast into 3 parts.  The first consisted of the puppeteers and suit performers. The second part was Michael Jackson and the third was Anjelica Huston.

The scene was to be in a Day Camp.  And in this improvisation, we were told what we would play.  Group one became the children at the camp, Michael was the camp counselor and Angelica was the owner of the camp.

Then we were each given a secret. Only the particular group knew their secret.  Our secret was that under no circumstances were we to mind Michael no matter what he said.  Michael’s secret was that he had to get us to mind him or he could be fired.  Anjelica’s secret was that she was to come in to fire Michael.

ACTION!

We jumped around, giggling and pulling on Michael as he pleaded with us to stop.

“Please behave, or I could be fired,” he said in his high-pitched voice.

We ignored him and continued to be difficult.

Anjelica entered and the air seemed to be sucked from the room.

“Michael Jackson!”

Michael stood straight up and turned to face her as she slowly crossed toward him.

Anjelica reached out and took Michael by his shirt, and lifting him up off the floor, her face inches from his she spoke.

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“You insignificant little worm, you’re Fired!”

 Then she pushed him away sending him backward struggling to keep his balance.

Michael slipped backward and slid on the smooth floor of the sound stage, when he finally stopped we could see that he was shaking. Francis yelled “CUT!”.

We stood there in surprise. Michael didn’t move, he was still shaking.  He finally got up and from that day forward he was afraid of Anjelica Huston.

Do you see what Francis did?  He had placed each of us in similar roles to our performance.  We, the Crew, Michael the Captain and Angelica, the Evil Queen.  Pretty smart, huh?

Next week I’ll tell you how that and other incidents effected the filming of “CAPTAIN EO”.

What did  you think about that story of Michael and Anjelica?

READER’S FEEDBACK

Thanks to all of you and your comments, my last column just lit up.  I do wish to caution you, if I may.  There is nothing like a good debate, it helps both sides to state their case and hopefully understand each other. However, I will say that personal attacks on each other isn’t a good idea. Please try not to get personal with each other. We are so fortunate to live in a country where we can share how we feel, even argue and debate freely. But it’s entirely possible to state your views without demeaning someone else.  ;-)

I don’t agree with some of what was said in the comments last week. I knew Michael Jackson personally and he was an amazing person.  For those of you who believe otherwise I ask you to think on this, have you ever been alone with someone? Perhaps you’re a  guy who has a girl for a friend, or visa-versa, and what if, for some reason, that person decided to say you did something you hadn’t? Could you prove otherwise? No one else was in the room.

What if it they spread it all over the internet, about you?  You’ve seen this happen and you know it can be done. How would you overcome it? It would be a very hard thing to do, especially if you are famous or in the limelight.

Compassion is a hard thing to have sometimes.

See you next week folks. I’m looking forward to it.

About Terri Hardin Jackson

Terri Hardin has designed attractions as a Disney Imagineer from 1987-1997. She's also a Jim Henson Puppeteer and has worked on over 42 film and TV projects including Ghostbusters & Captain EO. She currently creates Disney collectables and plays a Foster Farms Chicken.

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12 Comments

Comments for Lets Talk About Captain EO Starring Michael Jackson- Part 2 are now closed.

  1. Terri, I wasn’t expecting this 2nd part of the tale so soon, what a wonderful surprise!!!

    What a clever improv device, and what a funny story! I can just imagine the shock on everyones face when Angelica lifted Michael UP!

    I’m off to share this link around to other #MJfam and Real Fans. I’m loving this never before heard stuff about Captain EO, thank you so very much! -Q

  2. I love this series of articles. My grandmother made sure we went to EPCOT Center just to see Captain EO when I was a kid.

  3. I loved every word of it, and can’t wait for the next part! After reading this, I will need to go to Disneyland to see it again!

  4. FANTASTIC story Terri. Thank you so much for sharing it with us.

    I can almost see Michael cowering in terror in the grip of Angelica.

    • Can’t believe she got him off the floor! I’m surprised his entourage didn’t tackle her.

      • That’s what I was thinking! haha.

  5. I love the story! Keep up the great work!!! Can’t wait for the nest one!

  6. My family and I just saw Captain EO at Disneyland last week and it was as awesome as it was 20 years ago! My 2 boys 8 and 9 loved the effects and said it was worth it (they were upset they were going to see a “movie” with all those rides waiting for them) and my 1 year old tried to grab the 3d creatures (ha!) and danced the whole time. I sang and danced and remembered how excited I felt when I first saw the show in DW. I love MJ and the 10 year old in me will see Cpt. EO everytime we visit Disneyland for as long as the park keeps it!!

  7. Love it! I actually burst out laughing at the part where Angelica lifted Michael off the floor. Wow!

  8. Fun story! I remember Michael telling me about it. He told it a little bit differently, though… :)
    Thanks for saying such nice things about him. He was truly the best person I ever knew, or in fact ever will know. It just doesn’t get better than him. I feel sad for anyone who can’t see what a wonderful spirit he was.

    • I’m curious. What was the version you heard from Michael?

  9. [...] honor of Michael Jackson’s latest album “Xcape,” and all of you who asked about Part 1 and Part 2 of this [...]