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11 Directors Who Collaborated with Michael Jackson

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Getty Images

Michael Jackson was, unquestionably, one of the most influential artists in modern pop music. His world-wide hits and record-breaking albums gave him the power to push the medium of the music video farther than any musical artist before or after him. During his genre-pushing career on film and television, Jackson worked with 11 high-profile directors to create unique and groundbreaking content. 

1. Bob Giraldi

When CBS refused to finance Michael Jackson’s “Beat It” video, the singer ended up putting $150,000 of his own money down on the project. He asked Bob Giraldi to write and direct the video after Jackson saw a commercial Giraldi had directed. "As I was told, there was a certain spot that I directed in my early years as a commercial director for WLS-TV in Chicago, about two elderly blind people—a married couple—that didn't run from a neighborhood that all the other white folks fled from," Giraldi said. "It had become a very inner city, tough neighborhood and they chose to stay and throw a block party for all the young kids in the neighborhood. It was a commercial that Michael was really taken with." Giraldi based “Beat It,” his first music video, on his upbringing in New Jersey.

2. John Landis

An American Werewolf in London director John Landis also directed Jackson's nearly 14-minute-long ghoul-fest, “Thriller.” Jackson decided to call Landis after seeing An American Werewolf in London; the singer enjoyed the film’s mix of gruesome transformation horror and comedy. Ever the self-documentarian, Jackson’s camp had the entire production filmed for a making-of video that was paired with its VHS release.

3. and 4. George Lucas and Francis Ford Coppola

In 1986, George Lucas took a break from working on his original Star Wars trilogy to work with The Godfather and Apocalypse Now director Francis Ford Coppola and Michael Jackson on a long-form music video—a sci-fi 3D epic called Captain EO—for Disneyland. Coppola and Lucas tailored the story of a space captain spreading love and music through the universe to fit a list of possible shots developed by Walt Disney Imagineering. Anjelica Huston was brought on to play the evil Supreme Leader in almost unrecognizable make-up. Because of its use of both 3D and in-theater effects (like smoke, lasers, and compressed air), Captain EO is considered the first theme-park “4D” film. It played from 1986 to 1994 and was brought back to Disneyland after Michael Jackson’s death in 2009. You can watch a documentary about the making of Captain EO here.

5. Martin Scorsese

Most people know Michael Jackson’s “BAD” video as Jackson dancing around an abandoned parking lot with his West Side Story-type gang—because that was the version of the video that was played most on MTV. The full “BAD” video was directed in its entirety by Martin Scorsese and features a young Wesley Snipes. Jackson plays Darryl, a kid who just got back from an expensive private school and is hanging with his friends who are still partaking in urban petty crime. After a failed mugging on the subway, Darryl and his friend Mini Max (Snipes) argue about how Darryl isn’t “bad” anymore—cut to music video. The full video debuted on a CBS special on August 31, 1987.

6. David Fincher

The 1992 video for “Who Is It?” off Michael Jackson’s Dangerous is Fincher-esque in ways that wouldn’t be recognized as David Fincher hallmarks until over a decade later. The opening time-lapse of cityscapes echoes Panic Room, The Social Network, and House of Cards. The full version of the music video finds Jackson mistaking his girlfriend’s secret life as an escort for her cheating on him and hints at suicide at the end. It was a shocking enough video from Jackson that the original had to be released on VHS; the video that aired on TV in the U.S. was censored by editing in clips of past performances.

7. Spike Lee

Jackson and director Spike Lee connected on the social issues of the song “They Don’t Care About Us” off HIStory: Book 1. They planned a shoot in a Rio de Janeiro favela, but Brazilian state authorities attempted to block the video’s production. The Secretary of Industry, Commerce, and Tourism wanted final cut of the video, fearing media attention to the poverty of the favelas would hurt tourism. A judge blocked all filming, but his ruling was overturned by injunction, and Lee and Jackson were able to complete production. After the controversy, Jackson made an alternate video for the U.S. that featured him in a jail and alluded to human rights violations.

8. Stan Winston

Stan Winston, late special effects master and Pumpkinhead director, was at the helm of Jackson’s short film/music video "Ghosts" in 1996. Co-written by Stephen King, the film included dance sequences, ghost effects, and Jackson in a fat suit, and featured the songs “Ghosts,” “2 Bad,” and “Is It Scary” off the HIStory and Blood On The Dance Floor albums. The film runs 39 minutes and was screened out of competition at the 1997 Cannes Film Festival.

9. Mark Romanek

After bad press from child abuse accusations in 1993, Jackson wrote the song “Scream” to address the media. Jackson usually conceptualized his own music videos, but he left the concept of “Scream” to director Mark Romanek, who was hot off the music videos for Nine Inch Nails' “Closer” and Madonna’s “Rain.” Romanek put Jackson and his sister Janet on a large spaceship with futuristic recreation rooms, and they perform as their vessel flees the pettiness of Earth.

10. Kenny Ortega

The director of Hocus Pocus and the High School Musical trilogy also helmed Jackson’s final on-screen effort, This Is It. A planned series of 50 concerts at London’s O2 Arena were never performed because of Jackson’s death, but Ortega had been documenting the making of the live show and managed to edit the footage together into a heartwarming film that served as a fitting farewell retrospective.

11. Barry Sonnenfeld

Will Smith, Tommy Lee Jones, and director Barry Sonnenfeld had a legitimate hit on their hands in 1997’s Men In Black. According to Smith, Jackson called him after seeing the movie and said it was one of the most creative things he’d ever seen. Jackson told Smith that if there was a part two, he wanted to be involved—it didn’t matter what character he played. Sonnenfeld wrote Jackson into the sequel as an alien agent.

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From Snoopy to Shark Bait: The Top Slang Word in Each State
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There’s a minute, and then there’s a hot minute. Defined as “a longish amount of time,” this unit of time is familiar to Alabamians but may stir up confusion beyond the state’s borders.

It’s Louisianans, though, who feel the “most misunderstood,” according to the results of a survey regarding regional slang by PlayNJ. Of the Louisiana residents surveyed, 72 percent said their fellow Americans from other states—even neighboring ones—have a hard time grasping their lingo. Some learned the hard way that ordering a burger “dressed” (with lettuce, tomato, pickles, and mayo) isn’t universally understood, nor is the phrase “to pass a good time” (instead of “to have” a good time).

After surveying 2000 people (with proportional numbers from each state), PlayNJ created a map showing the top slang word in each state. Many are words that are unlikely to be understood beyond state lines, but others—like California’s bomb (something you really like) and New York’s deadass (to be completely serious)—have spread well beyond their respective borders thanks to memes and internet culture.

Hawaiians are also known for their distinctive slang words, with 71 percent reporting that words like shaka (hello) and poho (waste of time) are frequently misunderstood. Shark bait, one of the state’s more colorful terms, refers to tourists who are so pale that they attract sharks.

Check out the full list below and test your knowledge of regional slang words with PlayNJ’s online quiz.

A chart showing the top slang words in each state
PlayNJ
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20 States With the Highest Rates of Skin Cancer
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They don’t call it the Sunshine State for nothing. Floridians get to soak up the sun year-round, but that exposure to harmful UV rays also comes with consequences. Prevention magazine reported that Florida has the highest rate of skin cancer in the U.S., according to a survey by Blue Cross Blue Shield (BCBS).

BCBS surveyed 9 million of its insured members who had been diagnosed with skin cancer between 2014 and 2016 and found that Florida had the highest rate of skin cancer at 7.1 percent. People living in eastern states tend to be more prone to skin cancer, and diagnoses are more common among women.

Here are the 20 states with the highest rates of skin cancer:

1. Florida: 7.1 percent
2. Washington, D.C.: 5.8 percent
3. Connecticut: 5.6 percent
4. Maryland: 5.3 percent
5. Rhode Island: 5.3 percent
6. Vermont: 5.3 percent
7. North Carolina: 5.2 percent
8. New York: 5 percent
9. Massachusetts: 5 percent
10. Colorado: 5 percent
11. Arizona: 5 percent
12. Virginia: 5 percent
13. Delaware: 4.8 percent
14. Kentucky: 4.7 percent
15. Alabama: 4.7 percent
16. New Jersey: 4.7 percent
17. Georgia: 4.7 percent
18. West Virginia: 4.5 percent
19. Tennessee: 4.5 percent
20. South Carolina: 4.4 percent

It may come as a surprise that sunny California doesn’t make the top 20, and Hawaii is the state with the lowest rate of skin cancer at 1.8 percent. Prevention magazine explains that this could be due to the large population of senior citizens in Florida and the fact that the risk of melanoma, a rare but deadly type of skin cancer, increases with age. People living in regions with higher altitudes also face a greater risk of skin cancer due to the thinner atmosphere and greater exposure to UV radiation, which explains why Colorado is in the top 10.

The good news is that the technology used to detect skin cancer is improving, and researchers hope that AI can soon be incorporated into more skin cancer screenings. To reduce your risk, be sure to wear SPF 30+ sunscreen when you know you’ll be spending time outside, and don’t forget to reapply it every two hours. 

[h/t Prevention]

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