20. "Jam" (1992)
Michael Jackson and NBA superstar Michael Jordan were the most dominant performers on Earth circa 1992 – how would they work together? "We didn't really chitchat," says director David Kellogg. "It was easier just to play the music and let them go – either dance or play basketball. It was so loud that they couldn't really talk, so they had to let the music tell them how to behave."
David Kellogg, director: We found this rat-infested, abandoned, bombed-out armory in a neglected neighborhood in Chicago. I think it was the Southside. Somewhere near where the Bulls play. The production went into the neighborhood under the guise of a mayonnaise commercial. Neither the police or the landlord really knew what we were planning. Michael Jackson arrived in a motor home. We built a tunnel for him so he couldn't really be seen entering the building. It was followed shortly by Michael Jordan, who drove himself.
They're arguably the best physical performers in each of their areas of performance. And that was sort of the charm of it, really. How can these two guys that are really great physical performers be so inept at the other's form? Michael Jackson was not a particularly good basketball player, Michael Jordan wasn't a particularly good dancer. Michael Jackson just went in kind of wanting to have fun. My takeaway was that I never saw basketball the same way since. Basketball players are just dancers running around in a choreographed and improvised routine with a prop, doing spectacular acrobatics before a large audience of pumped up fans.
At one point [Jackson] had the flu or something. He would be sitting hunched over in the corner with his head hanging in his hands, and waiting for us to get our act together with the lighting. He did not look well and I thought we would have to cancel. But when it came time to shoot he pulled it together in such a remarkable way. We'd crank the music and he would step up with such passion and energy and snap that, honestly, it would send chills up my spine. Where did this come from? Standing 0 feet away from this was inspirational. What feats are we capable of? We're griping about standing on our tried feet and lunch break, and this guy goes from zero to 100 with the flip of a switch.
As long as he was having fun, everybody else seemed to be having fun. He just wanted to have water balloon fights and Super Soakers and run around. That was who he was.