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PROJECT “M” for MICHAEL JACKSON

February 3, 2018

You never know what can give you the necessary clue to help unravel the foul play around Michael Jackson. In my case the guiding light came from Michael’s haters who suggested a book by Darlene Craviotto An Agoraphobic’s Guide to Hollywood: How Michael Jackson Got Me Out of the House. They recommended it as a “pleasant surprise” for people of their kind and as a “shock” – evidently for Michael’s supporters.

Darlene Craviotto is a former actress-turned screenwriter who in 1990 had a contract with Disney films to write a script for what was supposed to be Steven Spielberg’s Peter Pan musical with Michael Jackson in the title role.  The plan was called “Project M” and for some reason was shrouded in top secrecy. The news of it was revealed only recently, in Craviotto’s book published in November 2011.

The author was hired to write a script by then Disney top executive Jeffrey Katzenberg – the Katzenberg who left Disney four years later to found the Dreamworks studio together with Steven Spielberg and David Geffen. The concept of the Peter Pan musical was to be worked out together with Michael Jackson.

The author had several meetings with Michael where he shared his ideas about the movie. The meetings were recorded at Michael’s suggestion and are now supposed to be the basis for the author’s story, at least that part of it that has to do with Jackson.

And indeed, when you read Craviotto’s account of her conversations with Michael you can recognize the ideas he also expressed in his songs. For example, the way they discussed Peter Pan’s Neverland clearly reminds you of his “Earth” song:

“When they first get to Neverland it should be this most beautiful, magical, gorgeous place ever seen… Paradise! Then there’s the other side we show that is being threatened: the land is changing; it’s just so ugly.”… Neverland is being destroyed,” he says.

“…there would be another section of Neverland that’s just terrible… ugly, polluted. And these pirates who are pigs have done this. And all Hook cares about is greed and money. He’s destroying the place. Fish are dying, and the mermaids. It should be a serious threat to the land and the kids. This place was one a beautiful paradise. And then… at the end when Hook is killed, we see this other thing happen. It would be so uplifiting, don’t you think? And rewarding. We see all those fairies go up, and the land changes again, and heavens open up. Neverland is back to what it should be. And the kids are jumping up and down.”

“I think Captain Hook is such an evil presence that even the animals sense it, and have left.” I suggest.

Michael laughs; he likes this.

“There are no animals living on that one section of the island,” I say.

“They’ve been killing and shooting the animals,” he adds. “Just like planet earth.”

Michael was delighted with the resulting script however it never materialized into a movie as Spielberg chose a different one which eventually turned into his “Hook” version of the same story.

The title of Craviotto’s book mentions agoraphobia, a condition the author suffered from after a car accident. In her case it involved fear to leave her home, drive a car and go to public places. This is why the need to visit Michael was quite a problem for her, further aggravated by the fact that Michael could meet her only after 9pm – he was busy recording the Dangerous album at the time, so to be able to see him she had to leave her two small kids in the care of her husband – an actor “between jobs” who seemed somewhat unaccustomed or unfit for the job.

The first 21 chapters of the book describe the author’s agoraphobia problems as well as her interaction with Michael Jackson whom she forced herself to visit at Neverland ranch and one of his LA condos. Funnily, Michael’s recording studio was at the end of the street where she lived, but it didn’t occur to her to suggest him visit her place (he would have loved it) as she kept her agoraphobia a secret, from everyone except her agent, for fear of losing the job.

And everything would have been fine about this book, if it hadn’t been for a chapter at the end of it where Craviotto describes reading the final transcript to Michael Jackson, and oh God, suddenly there are two more people there – a gray-haired man with a beard whom she calls “Buddy” and a nine or ten-year old boy in a fedora hat.

Michael’s haters naturally skip everything else and fast forward to this chapter, describing it in full detail and even making some screenshots (reproduced here), so anyone interested can get familiar with the horrors Craviotto saw there and what she thought about it.

And this is what she saw.

THE SCENE

Michael sits on the couch wearing his black fedora, and sitting at his side is a little boy also wearing a black fedora. The boy is polishing off the pizza slices as Michael giggles and pours him more soda. The child looks like he might be nine or ten years old, and Michael appears as comfortable sitting next to him as I’ve ever seen him look.

“Hi, Darlene!” Michael says, never moving from the couch.

I’m sure my mouth must be open. I only hope it’s not.

“This is my friend Andrew,” he tells me, as though that makes everything else understandable.

I nod and smile at the little boy who is too busy wolfing down pizza to really care who I am or why I’m there. I really don’t know what to say. For someone who makes her living using words, those tools of my trade are suddenly not at my disposal. I am trying not to stare, but I don’t understand this strange image of dual fedoras or the significance of Michael and his pintsize pizza buddy.

“Andrew’s from New Zealand,” Michael says, as though that will explain this strange tableau.

I’m still not getting it. 

It is difficult to explain why the author was so lost for words seeing a boy eat pizza in the presence of three grown-ups, but let us not comment on her feelings – after all she is agoraphobic, so who knows… Let us just note that the year described is 1990, so the real name for “Andrew from New Zealand” may very well be “Wade Robson from Australia”, and this is where the explosive has evidently been strategically placed.

The author never says who “Buddy” is and from her description of him we assume that he is some shady character, however readers recognized in that person Buz Kohan, a 57-year old man and father of three children, a renowned television producer and writer, with whom Michael was good friends since his Motown days. Michael called him “Buzzy”.

Buz Kohan, Michael Jackson and Susanne de Passe during rehearsal

The author describes the hell she is going through at seeing what’s happening in the room:

I am trying to distance myself from what is happening here in the room.

What the hell is happening in this room?!

Why is another writer here? The last thing a screenwriter on a project needs to hear right before pitching her story to the star is that there is another writer (not even attached to the project) sitting in the room. Is this some kind of test Michael is putting me through? If I fail it am I going to be replaced?

…Buddy must be a mind reader.

“I mostly produce, “he explains, recognizing the look of competitive horror in my screenwriting eyes. “And I’ve done a couple of songs with Michael,” he adds.

“Buddy and I just wrote a song together,” Michael clarifies. “I want him to hear the story to get some ideas for songs.”

…”Terrific!” I say, lying with great enthusiasm.

A little Google search tells us that the song Michael Jackson was talking about is “Gone too soon” recorded for the Dangerous album (which he was working on at the time). The song was dedicated to Michael’s friend Ryan White, the boy infected with AIDS through a blood transfusion, who died just at that very time, in April 1990. Buz Kohan was the one to write that song, but he gave it to Michael for him to record it as a tribute to the boy.

To understand Michael’s frame of mind at that moment this is how Joseph Vogel described Michael’s interaction with Buz Kohan over that song and the reason why it was included in the album:

Michael Jackson and Ryan White

IT WAS PAST MIDNIGHT ON A SUNDAY when the phone rang at the Kohan home. “Sorry, did I wake you up?” a voice whispered on the other line. “Is Buzzie there?”

Buz’s wife, Rhea, had grown accustomed to Jackson’s late night calls. “Just a second,” she said, passing the phone to her husband. Jackson was calling that night about a particular song. Earlier that evening he had watched Dionne Warwick (a good friend) perform a tribute on the TV special, <> to performers who died early. Watching it, Jackson wept.

That night Jackson told Buz he felt he had to record it some day. “It’s yours when you want it,” Buz said.

Years later, in 1990, Buz and Jackson were talking on the phone when Jackson brought up a young boy he had befriended named Ryan White. . “He’s not gonna live forever,” Jackson said. “I wanna do something special for him.”

Ryan had become the national face of AIDS at a time when the disease was still severely misunderstood, stigmatized, and feared.

Jackson knew he couldn’t change Ryan’s fate, but he hoped to give him some escapism and joy before his time was up.  [He] bought Ryan a red Mustang convertible, his dream car, for his birthday. Just months later, however, on April 8, 1990, Ryan died.

The next day, Jackson arrived in Indiana. He sat in Ryan’s empty room for hours, looking at his souvenirs, clothes, and pictures. “I don’t understand when a child dies,” Jackson later said. “I really don’t.” Ryan’s mother, Jeane, offered to let Jackson have whatever he wanted as a keepsake, but he told her just to keep everything in his room as it was.

Months later, Buzz was there in the studio at Ocean Way when Jackson recorded the song. As usual, Jackson sang in the dark to fully immerse himself. Sitting by engineer Bruce Swedien at the control desk, Buz got goosebumps as he listened. The lyrics were about the beauty, transience, and fragility of life. The words could easily devolve into cliche and sentimentality in the hands of an ordinary performer, but Jackson was no ordinary performer. “He put his soul into it,” recalls Buz. “There was no exaggeration or affect. It was real emotion.”

“Gone Too Soon” was track No. 13 of 14 on the Dangerous album. It was released as a single on World AIDS Day, December 1, 1993. Jackson also performed the song at President Bill Clinton’s inaugural gala to further educate the world about Ryan White and garner political support and funding for AIDS research.

https://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2012/06/gone-too-soon-the-many-lives-of-michael-jacksons-elegy/258933/

However let’s return to Darlen Craviotto and her drama.

Andrew by now has finished the pizza and flops back into the couch cushions. Michael cleans up the pizza box and used napkins, taking the trash into the kitchen. Buddy and I wait for Michael to return, and my eyes look over at the freckled-faced little boy whose mop of blonde hair peeks out helter-skelter under the brim of the fedora.

What the hell is he doing here?

And where is his mother? It’s ten o’clock on a Thursday night, and shouldn’t she be here? My head is spinning with questions that I can’t possibly ask. Instead, I reach for the glass of water Buddy has poured for me from the glass pitcher Michael always seems to have available.

Michael returns with a blanket, and settles back down on the couch, covering the boy and himself with it. He puts a protective arm around little Andrew, and the boy settles back into the crook of Michael’s shoulder. I try not to stare. I try not to watch this or to look judgmentally as Michael spreads the blanket over his lap, and the lap of the little boy, the two of them cuddling closely together.

I put my head down, and look at the pages of my story in front of me. Once I am certain that everyone is settled down (and tucked in), I begin to read.

Indeed, what the hell were the boy and Buddy doing there?

My first guess is that Michael invited his two friends to listen to the final reading of the script and hear their opinion about it.

The boy is the most natural audience for the Peter Pan story and Darlene knows it better than anyone else as she herself tested the script on her own children, evening after evening, to see their reaction and note what scenes would make them laugh and which would make them spellbound.

Each night I would read to Jacob and Kathryn the pages of the Peter Pan story that I had written that day in my office. The children would listen at bedtime as I acted out all of the roles, moving the story along with my voice. When they’d laugh, I’d remember the sound, and it gave me hope; when their eyes grew big, and they listened so spellbound, I knew that my story was working.

Buz Kohan is also another natural audience for the reading – he was a long-time collaborator of Michael Jackson, worked with him right at that moment and could be invited there even to write some songs for the new musical. In any case his opinion of the movie script as a veteran in the entertainment industry was surely of great value to Michael.

Unfortunately the hour was past 9pm, however this was the only time Michael had for the reading as usual, but the author forgets all about it and her mind is racing over totally different things.

Looking at the boy her biggest worry now is that Michael is too caring for him and behaves more like a woman than a man should – of course, from her point of view of a mother whose husband has scarce experience with their own kids and whose usual reaction to their demands for attention is closing the door on them.

As I read through the 37 pages of my Peter Pan story, I moved from Neverland, to Michael’s Hideaway, watching everything in the room while living the story on the page. No one would know I was doing it, but I was. I read the lines of dialogue in character, I would play a dramatic moment, and then I’d quickly hover just above myself, turning my attention to Buddy or Michael or the drowsy looking little boy cuddling with Michael.

I’d take flight as Peter, soaring above treetops, but I’d also watch Michael and the little boy sitting across from me. 

…As I lowered my voice and slipped into Hook, I hovered above Michael, watching him cuddle with the boy the way I did with my own children. 

But this wasn’t Michael’s child, and he wasn’t the boy’s mother. He didn’t seem to relate to this boy the way I’ve seen fathers relate. His moves were like those of a mother: comforting and tender as he would reach out and take the little boy’s hand to hold it.

…I only know that my instincts are telling me this doesn’t feel right. It just doesn’t.

Amidst all the drama the boy falls asleep.

Tenderly, Michael bundles the little boy in his arms and lifts him up from the couch. He carries him off carefully towards the hallway and to this bedroom. My eyes follow Michael and the boy, and Buddy sees me watching them.

“Michael is a very good friend of the boy’s mother,” he explains.

I nod but wonder why he’s telling me this. Can he see how uncomfortable I feel? Or how pissed I am at Michael for making me feel this discomfort?

Of course I won’t say anything. It’s not part of my job to speak up. I wear my perfect screenwriter’s poker face, and whatever is thrown my way is fine with me. But the agoraphobic inside of me just wants to get out of there as quickly as possible. Escape is not an option, not at the moment. And I am feeling as trapped here as I’ve ever felt outside of my house.

When Michael returns he and Buddy reassure her that the script is good and the boy fell asleep not because he was not spellbound by the story, but because he was sleepy from too much pizza. However the author doesn’t appreciate their effort to set her at ease – the boy is evidently a bigger issue for her than Michael Jackson’s opinion of her final script.

“He ate too much pizza!” Michael says, coming back into the living room. “Too many carbs make you sleepy,” he laughs.

“My kids fall asleep all the time when I read to them,” I say. But I have to admit I’m not happy my words have put the little boy to sleep. Or that the little boy was even there in the room to hear them.

“I like it,” Buddy says, meaning my story. He says it like he’s pleasantly surprised.

“It’s so good!” Michael says with a smile.

On the drive back home, my head was spinning.

I couldn’t stop thinking about Michael and the young boy. I wanted to make sense of something that maybe I just didn’t understand. I knew that Michael thought of himself as Peter, but what I had witnessed didn’t make me think of Peter Pan at all.

…It reminded me of something else.  Something I had heard years ago, but didn’t want to believe.

While the studio driver is taking her home she recalls some gossip from a Hollywood music company that when Michael was small he had a “relationship” with a man who wasn’t only his mentor professionally, but also “much more”.

A friend of mine worked in the office of a Hollywood music company. She had told me in confidence about the rumors of a “relationship” between Michael Jackson and one of the executives of the company. The man had been a mentor to Michael professionally, but he had also been much more. The office gossip was that the man had been molesting Michael since he was a young boy. It was on the down low, and people there kept it to themselves for fear of losing their jobs.

I thought the story my friend told me was cruel and malicious gossip. …I just assumed that those rumors about Michael and the executive were part of a celebrity mystique. I never imagined that they could be true. Until tonight.

And now Craviotto thinks that it could be due to his own past experience (if there was any) that Michael didn’t see anything wrong in a bond with a boy (assuming that there was a bond).

If Michael had a relationship with a man when he was a young boy, maybe he doesn’t think there’s anything wrong with that kind of a bond. His closeness to the boy seemed easy and relaxed, and Michael looked comfortable being with him. Nothing about his behavior indicated that Michael thought what he was doing was problematic or anything less than normal. Maybe that’s what made me feel so ill at ease. So concerned. So confused.

How does Hollywood not know about this?

Is this Michael’s secret, just as agoraphobia is mine?

Did I see something he usually keeps private? And if I did, why was Michael showing this side of himself to me?

…I didn’t know what the truth was. I wasn’t sure I wanted to find out.

Here is what readers say about this scene in the comments on amazon.com:

This is a troubling book. On the one hand, it has some lovely moments of time spent with Michael Jackson while working on a script for the idea of a Peter Pan movie. Craviotto is a good writer and her own story is entertaining and heart warming. The trouble develops when she tries to psychoanalyze Mr. Jackson’s motives and behavior. When she writes of her time with this very creative musician and film maker without her own analysis, we discover his charm, natural shyness, kindness and humor. It’s when she looks at his motives and behavior, especially around children, with preconceived ideas that the writing feels creepy. Craviotto falls into the trap of many writers who can’t help seeing him through the lens of abnormality.

~

Nothing happened that was “uncomfortable” if we look at the simple facts of the story. What is so uncomfortable about a child eating then falling asleep in the presence of three adults? 
It were the author’s deliberate innuendos those made the situation look “uncomfortable”, not the situation itself.  By the way, it’s also strange why the author did not tell who Buddy really is. It’s Buz Kohan, a well respected musician and composer, a father of three. Why not reveal his real identity in this story? Why make Buddy out to be some kind of mysterious, creepy, shady character? Those are the means by which a simple, innocent scene can be turned into something “suspicious”, “uncomfortable”, “creepy”. And in my opinion the author is doing it totally deliberately in this scene. Don’t pretend she does not know what she’s doing with the way she describes that scene.

~

I agree she went completely overboard in her reaction to a child being there with MJ. As an agoraphobic who stayed home with her kids, she seems totally unaware that men can also be caretakers of kids. Her own husband was somewhat remote from his own kids. One time she can’t find a babysitter when she has to meet MJ, so he steps in to do a big favor of taking care of his own kids!!

~

Darlene writes with charm, humor and sensitivity about her relationship with Michael and for a long while into the book seems to feel a kindred spirit with him. She describes him in the fondest of terms (though I didn’t particularly like the methods she resorted to stay in his good graces). However, suddenly near the end she relates the incident that seemed totally out of context. It seemed randomly and sensationally tossed in, for what purpose?? To satisfy a publisher’s or a public’s need for something titillating? In that sense, the joy I felt reading most of the book was deflated like a balloon pricked with a pin. I just wish Ms Craviotto hadn’t chosen to exploit innuendo and assumption when in reality, it proved nothing.

Indeed, it proved nothing. It is all those suggestions she put into that scene which turns it into something sinister, and not the scene itself.

HOW DOES HOLLYWOOD NOT KNOW ABOUT THIS?

After all these details obligingly provided to readers by Michael’s haters we can easily answer Craviotto’s question: “How does Hollywood not know about this?  by simply asking a similar question: “How does Hollywood not know about what?”

The fact that the son of Michael’s friend was invited to listen to a new script of Peter Pan movie, fell asleep and stayed in Michael’s condo with another grown-up there? And the whole company looked natural, easy and relaxed at that?

When Darlene Craviotto was still an actress and not a screenwriter she had a couple of roles in horror films and this experience very much tells on her narrative about Jackson. It sounds very much like a Hitchcock’s movie where nothing wrong is actually taking place, but the suspense is built up through the power of suggestion and maximizing the readers’ anxiety and fear.

In fact she even employs a special film technique of the camera/ her imagination hovering over Jackson who is holding the boy’s hand. Close-ups like that, the camera roaming over the room to draw attention to details and the mere suggestion of a crime instead of the crime itself were exactly the methods Hitchcock used in his movies (see more about his method in this marvelous manual).

What’s also interesting about Craviotto’s question is that it may be asked in a different way. If you place the emphasis on another word there, you will learn what she probably didn’t intend to disclose and is now unwittingly giving away about the relationship between Hollywood and Michael Jackson: “How does Hollywood not know about this?”

This question tells us that in 1990 there was no one in Hollywood to worry about Michael’s interaction with children and the reason for it is that even the most cynical there realized that in sexual matters he was no more than a child.

Craviotto herself repeatedly described him as a “3rd grader” with whom they giggled like small children when, for example, Michael was shocked to see his trousers unzipped after a visit to the bathroom, and when he offered to watch the Grammies on a bed with him the very first time they met, thinking nothing of it.

The author tells us that the only gossip circulating in Hollywood at the time was that Michael had been molested as a child as well as stories about his “eccentricities” and the like, so Craviotto’s revelations now may very well turn her into the very person who triggered off the avalanche of innuendos about Michael Jackson, especially since the very next morning she thought of nothing better than spill out her fantasies to her Hollywood agent.

She called her Raymond at 8am the next morning to ask if he knew any dirt about Jackson – according to her agents in Hollywood are the most informed people there and if they don’t know, no one does.

The surprised agent said no, there was no dirt on Jackson except that “everyone knew that he was weird”, however our author didn’t stop at that and shared with him the worst of what her imagination suggested about Jackson.

I call Raymond at his office early the next morning.

….“Tell me everything you know about Michael,” I ask. “All the dirt.”

If there were rumors about Michael and boys that he had befriended, Raymond would have heard them. Agents pride themselves on knowing the dirt about everyone in town. They’re agents; it’s part of their job to know people’s vulnerabilities.

“He’s weird!” Raymond says. “Everybody knows that. Why? What happened? What did he do?”

I tell Raymond everything. About the boy, and Michael cuddling with him on the couch. About how late it was, and there wasn’t a parent in sight. I tell him that it really bothered me as a mother, that I’d shared photos of my own kids with Michael, that I was hoping they could meet him one day, and he’d invite them to Neverland. I said that I didn’t understand what I had witnesses at the Hideaway, but I’d heard rumors about Michael as a boy, and now I wasn’t so sure they were only rumors, and I never wanted Michael to ever meet my kids, and I ask Raymond if he’s heard anything about Michael and young boys.

“No!” he tells me adamantly. “Nothing like that,” he says, sounding totally shocked, and repulsed. “That’s serious. That can kill a career!”

I know by Raymond’s tone of voice that he’s telling me the truth. If there was any gossip about Michael’s involvement with children, Raymond would have heard all about it. Hollywood is too small of an industry to keep that kind of secret quiet.

All of the above was not only nasty but also unnecessary. If you don’t want your children to go to Neverland it is okay, only what’s the point of sharing it with your agent?

So being perfectly aware of what Hollywood is like, she gives full vein to her fantasy and makes her story sound so bad that now she even wishes Michael hadn’t seen the photos of her children. And we are to believe that she didn’t know that the whole of Hollywood would soon be abuzz despite her agent’s promises to keep silent?

No wonder readers say that this book will break your heart.

WHAT READERS SAY

The review below sums up all of it pretty well, adding some more interesting details to the story.

This book will break your heart. At the same time it is probably one of the best “insider” stories out there. The author describes her unusual but warm and kindly relationship with Michael Jackson for the first 90% of the book. You really get the impression that she is empathic and understanding. Then at the eleventh hour she throws him under the bus.

Still, if you can stand the inevitable betrayal at the end, it is a fascinating glimpse into MJ’s thought process, creative spirit, kindness, and emotions. And it’s very well-written. The project they were working on was a movie of Peter Pan where Michael was to play the title role.

Throughout the story, although Michael is very emotionally invested in the project, he also expresses worry that Steven Spielberg is actually not serious about really casting him. Michael has meetings with Spielberg and Jeffrey Katzenberg, and although they are going through the motions and saying the right things, Michael senses that they really don’t mean it – they are only massaging his ego and it’s all BS. He’s torn, throughout, as he wants to believe them, but deep down he’s afraid he’s being played. At the end, as it becomes more and more clear to Michael that his fears are correct — he has been played a fool and done all this work for nothing — he turns cold toward the author, for she too has been less honest than honest with him, for her own reasons.

His behavior makes complete sense to me. Michael is too polite or inhibited or convinced she has no clue anyway, to say anything directly to her. Or maybe he doesn’t want to burst her bubble. But he knows. So now all of sudden he brings brand new people, including a child, into their meeting. That the child needs excessive attention from him, and she is now required to deal with his other people (strangers to her), is just obviously a distraction technique — his plausible deniability excuse for ignoring her and not expressing his rage directly.

But she (predictably, sadly, cluelessly) concludes this must be evidence of some monsterish freakish weirdness. So she starts raising questions with Disney execs, and her agents. She is told by everyone – no, no there has never been any question like this about Michael. None.
This is 1990. And you may draw your own conclusions, dear reader, but it seems she is where the bad stories apparently started.

The point about Michael sensing that he has been played a fool and all his work is for nothing is a very insightful observation, however other readers disagree that the author was “clueless” about it – most probably she did know or guess that her script was only to make Michael Jackson happy and as such was simply a distraction technique. 

That idea of her trying to make Michael “happy” is repeated in the book so often that it simply imposes itself on the reader as the real purpose of the project.

“I’ve done everything in my power to keep Michael 100% happy. I’ve been the perfect little screenwriter: I have nurtured, encouraged, coaxed and enticed. We’ve been playmates together, sucking Jolly Roger candies and giggling over nonsense. But that’s over now. We’ve stopped being kids. Well, I’ve stopped at least. Michael seems content staying just the way he is.”

Readers say about it:

It is quite amazing this author does not seem to see that she was used as the instrument through which MJ was being played. Even as she discusses what a tough town Hollywood is and how the whole town is “built on bullshit (to quote her) she seems unable to comprehend that she too was used. Or, more likely, she won’t admit it because she still wants to work.

~

I found it hollow in terms of the rest of the story involving Spielberg, the movie studios, the producers. It felt like there was a whole part missing in terms of everything else that would obviously be going on. But this was a story which was clearly designed to be focused around Michael in order to pitch the sale, with Michael’s name right there in the title, and some predictable innuendo thrown in. I found it mind boggling anyone – let alone the author! – could deem this book heart warming or sweet or anything of the kind. She intended for it to be the complete opposite.

The fact that this book is a deliberate attempt to sully Michael’s name still requires some proof, however all information about the inner workings behind this project is indeed missing there, so to fill in these blanks we need to dig much deeper than just the surface of it.

SOMETHING TO THINK ABOUT

There is a lot more that makes you wonder about Craviotto’s story besides the obvious fact that she is making unfounded innuendos about Jackson and thirty years ago sent them racing all over Hollywood.

Why, for example, did she disclose the secret Project M to readers, and why only now? And why did she structure the book the way she did, turning on Jackson at the last moment?

You will agree that writing a story wholly sympathetic to Michael and throwing him under the bus at the last minute is somewhat strange – it looks more like a trap for readers and an unexpected change in genre, like a comedy sitcom suddenly turning into a horror movie. There is something unnatural about it unless the story is a script of course, where anything can happen and where the climax of the story is intended to be at the very end of the movie in any case.

In fact, Craviotto does not rule it out that one day her book will be adapted for film, and this also suggests that her story is almost a ready-made script for a “tell-all” movie about Jackson. See an excerpt from this interview:

Lisa:  What’s next for you?  Will you write a screenplay from this book?

Darlene:  I don’t have any plans at the moment to adapt my memoir into a screenplay. I’m just concentrating on the marketing efforts right now. We’ll see where the book leads.

Well, we hope that it leads nowhere, and in the meantime wonder about the timing of Craviotto’s book and the fact that it ends in a sort of a question mark  -“is he or he isn’t”?

When placed in a certain time frame the resulting impression is that it is only setting the scene for something which is yet to come and give a definitive answer to the author’s question. If, for example, the subject raised in the book were followed up in real life, the timing and strategy of the book would look more than logical and would explain it all.

And indeed, in May 2012 the person described by Craviotto as “a boy from New Zealand” attended a therapist where he allegedly learned of his abuse, then shopped his own book with publishers and when that failed made his allegations against Michael in May 2013. Looking at these events in their perspective it is hard to resist the temptation to establish a link between Craviotto’s book and the “boy’s” actions following its publication.

Another matter that slightly bothers is why this Project M was so big a secret. Craviotto says that no one knew about it and no one would have known if it hadn’t been for her book. She claims that even she doesn’t understand why there was so much secrecy around it.

In her introduction to the book she says that if we do a Google search we won’t find a thing on Project M and this is correct – I did try, but found nothing. But why all this secrecy?

They called it “Project M” so that no one would know about the true nature of the film. Why it was kept a secret I still don’t understand. Except for a press leak early in the development stage, there was no further mention of the film at the time. It was to be a co-venture between Disney Studios and Amblin Entertainment, Steven Spielberg’s film company. Steven was attached to direct, and equally as exciting, Michael Jackson would be its star. It was to be the film musical of Peter Pan. A blockbuster of a project and Disney wanted me to be the screenwriter.

No one has ever heard of it.

As a mater of fact, if you do a Google search, you won’t find a thing on Project M. Although there is a brief mention in a Wikipedia entry that says Steven Spielberg was considering a musical of Peter Pan with Michael Jackson in the early 1980s but then reconsidered. That’s not exactly what happened.

And what happened is another big mystery. According to Craviotto, at the last moment Steven Spielberg changed his mind and decided in favor of “Hook” and Robin Williams instead of “Peter Pan” and Michael Jackson.

Of all the events described this sudden turnabout is not only the most painful, but also the least explained. At first Spielberg was all set on making the movie with MJ, and even asked him if he could guarantee that no tour and no album would interfere with their project, and Michael was adamant that nothing would stand in the way – and then Spielberg killed it on a mere whim and with so little consideration for his friend?

All the executives wanted this project, were enthusiastic, well-meaning and cooperative, and it was only Steven Spielberg who seemed not to care, while everyone else was having a fit over the sudden news. If this is how it happened he is no less than a villain…

And from this point of view Darlene Craviotto’s book leaves us not only with one villain (Michael Jackson), but actually two of them, where each of them is bad in his own way.

ANOTHER VILLAIN

In fact, all throughout the book Spielberg comes across as a worrisome character. During their meetings with Craviotto Michael Jackson voiced his anxiety about Spielberg on several occasions and, according to her each time Michael turned off the recorder and his voice became “cold and unemotional.”

This is how she describes it:

Steven Spielberg in Michael Jackson’s “Liberian Girl”

Abruptly, he reaches over and shuts off the tape recorder.

“I’m worried about Steven,” he confides to me, softly. “Do you think he can do this? …Do you think he has the heart to make Peter Pan?”

I’m shocked by the question: Michael Jackson is asking me what I think of Steven Spielberg’s directing capabilities.

…“I’ve had other directors come to me about Peter Pan, but I always wanted to do this with Steven,” Michael says. He seems genuine about his respect for the man, but his apprehension about the director seems real too.

“But I don’t know… I don’t know if he can handle the heart of the story…..I’m not sure he has heart like he used to.”

…Reaching his hand out, Michael turns on the tape recorder again, and presses “Record.” Sitting back now in his chair, he breaks out in a big smile.

…“I love the idea of Peter Pan, I love it! And it’s really never been done right. It’s a perfect vehicle to touch the world. Cause it’s that transition everybody has to deal with – about growing up. Everybody can relate to it. People say, “I remember when I felt like that’. I still fell that way! Nobody wants to admit that they really don’t want to grow up. They want to fit into society and play it cool. But inside they’re just …kids.”

“Everything we’ve talked about I can see through Spielberg’s camera,” I say excitedly, “The way Steven shoots and the look of his…”

Before I can finish my thought, Michael has reached over to shut off the recorder again. The tape stops in place, and there is silence. Michael fills in when he finally says, “We have to make him see things our way”.

The words are cold and unemotional, sounding more like a threat than a conspiracy.

“We will,” I assure him.

These episodes are recurrent throughout the book, and each time they seemed, well, a little overdramatic and a bit out of character for the people described. After all Peter Pan was Spielberg’s favorite tale as a child too and in a 1985 Time interview he even likened himself to Peter Pan:

“I have always felt like Peter Pan. It has been very hard for me to grow up. I’m a victim of the Peter Pan Syndrome.”

So considering that the author has no tapes to support Michael’s apprehensions that Spielberg “didn’t have the heart” to do this tale (the tape recorder was always off), over here I really don’t know.

However what we do know is that Jeffrey Katzenberg (top Disney executive), Howard Fein (Disney creative producer) and everyone else were all set on making the movie and obviously had the heart for it, and it was only Steven Spielberg, bad timing or bad luck that didn’t make it happen.

I get a phone call from Howard on Monday morning.

“It’s wonderful! “he says in a voice that really does sound appreciative, and genuine. “You’ve done some wonderful, really creative things. It’s terrific!” he gushes again.

…”I wish we could make it,” he says awkwardly.

There’s always a “But” in Hollywood. You just have to wade through the bullshit long enough to find it. 

…“We can’t do Peter Pan,” he admits. “At all. Not at all.”

“Is it because of Michael?” I ask.

“Michael has nothing to do with the decision. He loves Peter Pan; you know that. He’s dying to play Peter.”

“So you love the story, and Michael’s still onboard?
“It’s Steven,” he admits quietly.

I get a chill up my spine.

“He didn’t like it?” I ask, through gritted teeth.

What follows next is every screenwriter’s nightmare.

“He’s got another script,” Howard says, with the words sticking in his throat.

“Another script?”

“It’s called Hook.”

… “This is an already written, ready to go script?!” I ask Howard, as I slowly come out of my shock-induced mental paralysis. “And Steven just happened to stumble over it?”

“Somebody just sent it to him.”

“Yeah, right!”

“I swear to God, Darlene. Steven didn’t have this in development when we all had lunch together. This just dropped into his lap. It’s just timing, terrible, terrible timing. Don’t take it personally.”

“So that’s it for Peter Pan? That’s a wrap?”

“We love what you did!” he says in a voice that’s way too enthusiastic for the news it’s bringing.

“Jeffrey loved it!”

In her interview Craviotto says that not every script makes it to the end and it is a common thing for Hollywood to have them rejected, however she herself would never start writing until the deal was in place, so she was always paid for the job and it wasn’t a financial disaster for her when her scripts didn’t end up being filmed.

But to Michael Jackson it must have been a devastating blow. She recalled what he used to say about Spielberg and realized that her hope that at least “he would have been treated better” didn’t come true.

As badly as I felt as the screenwriter, my heart really went out to Michael. His whole life was centered on his Peter Pan identity, and it was always his dream to play out that role on film. It must have been devastating for him and humiliating also to have the role taken away from him. Instead of Michael’s Peter Pan, it would be Robin Williams who was cast in the role. And I think that must have hurt Michael deeply.

…I remembered Michael’s words, his concern about the director not having enough “heart,” and it all seemed so prophetic. I wondered how long Steven had known about the Hook script, or how many meetings Michael and I kept having while he knew? I was just the screenwriter: the bottom of the food chain. But Michael was a star, and I thought he would have been treated better.

I immediately wrote a note to Michael, telling him how badly I felt about the timing of the Hook project, and Steven’s involvement with it. I said that I hoped someday he’d get the chance to play the role of Peter, a role I felt he was destined to play. I told him that I loved working with him, and I hoped some day in the future we could work together again. I took a cab out to the Hideaway that same night, and I left the note with the doorman.

I never got a reply.

I never heard from Michael again.

Now the question is – can we believe all the drama Darlene Craviotto describes in her book? After all she is a Hollywood screenwriter who is used to creating stories and not describing the events the way they really happened, and to earn money and maximize the effect she could make her story a little more “colorful”, adding to it some shades and creative details.

In fact she has once said that the publisher asked her to make her story more salacious, but she did no such thing.

Lisa:  You mentioned that early on one major publisher said the book needed to be more salacious.

Darlene: I didn’t expect that response because I knew that I hadn’t written a tell-all about Michael Jackson. ..For nonfiction, unlike with a novel, the book proposal has to sell the book: 8 – 10 pages and some sample chapters. The goal is to get a contract, and then the publisher would have input. But my book was already written: this was the story I wanted to tell and in the way I wanted to tell it.

Suddenly, I felt as though I had wandered back into Hollywood again where essentially you have to write a story the way the producers/studio want it to be written.  If you don’t, you’re fired.  The agent advised, “You don’t have to write anything you don’t want to write.  It’s your book.”  So then I realized I had control over my story and how it would be told.  All I had to say was, “Sorry, but I’m not interested.”

Good. So she wasn’t interested in inventing more about Jackson as she already squeezed the maximum damage out of that story about the boy and his pizza.

But why I am still suspicious about the rest of it is because there are not only things that made the author uncomfortable about Michael Jackson, but there are certain things that make me uncomfortable about her.

AGORAPHOBIA

The whole of Darlene Craviotto’s story is based on a premise that she had agoraphobia which didn’t allow her to leave home and hence all that fuss over having to go out to see Jackson.

She says that she developed agoraphobia after a bad car accident when she went through the windshield of her car and her face was injured. Eventually the injuries healed, but by that time she had already developed agoraphobia and was petrified to leave her home for other reasons than her face wounds.

Here are some excerpts from Craviotto’s writings telling her story:

Darlene Craviotto in “I Never Promised You a Rose Garden”, 1977 (screenshot)

 “I was hired to co-star in a big film, I Never Promised You A Rose Garden.  All of my Hollywood dreams were coming true.  But one week before we were supposed to re-shoot the ending of the film (with me in it) I had a car accident and my face went through the windshield of my 1967 Chevy Malibu. My face eventually healed, but I developed agoraphobia after the accident.  I couldn’t really go to auditions, so I had to stop acting.  But the good news was I picked up a pen and started writing.  I had to do something with all that time sitting at home, so I wrote.” 

“It wasn’t just my face that was injured in that accident. Suddenly, I became afraid to leave the house. I’d find myself breaking out in a cold sweat anywhere I’d go. The grocery store seemed overwhelming, standing in line at the bank felt endless until my heart would start racing, and I’d have to bold. Forget about going anywhere like a mall, a theatre or sporting event where there might be hundreds or (God forbid) thousands of people. My mind would fog up just at the thought of it, and I’d find myself walking around in a daze. So I simply stayed home.”

“I was stuck in the house, terrified to leave.”

What makes me uncomfortable about the above statements is that after her first movie “I Never Promised You A Rose Garden” completed at the end of 1977 Darlene Craviotto was supposed to stop acting and stay at home doing scripts as she was terrified to leave the house. However her official filmography lists at least three more movies after that, one of which came almost immediately after that car accident that also left her with the facial wounds.

Darlene Craviotto in “Human Experiments” movie, 1978 (screenshot)

In 1978 she played the role of a student in “More Than Friends” TV series. In the 1979 “Human Experiments” horror film she had a short but demanding role of an insane woman in prison who was turned into a vegetable by a criminal psychiatrist. And in the 1981 “Angel Dusted” TV movie she played a psychiatrist herself and was also the film’s screenwriter who adapted someone else’s book into a movie.

Darlene Craviotto’s acted in movies after the 1977 car accident

And though all her roles were short they still required working on the set, so what Craviotto depicts as cold sweats at the mere idea of leaving home looks like a bit of an exaggeration to say the very least.

All this talk about agoraphobia may have been required just for turning the book into a humorous and entertaining story, so when she makes heinous insinuations about Jackson against so lighthearted a background they strike you even harder as they take you completely unawares and come at a moment when you least expect it. Craviotto must be a good student of Hitchcock’s method who said that suspense didn’t have any value if not balanced by humor. “It is the equivalent of a roller coaster ride in which the passengers scream wildly on the way down but laugh when the ride rolls to a stop.”

When Craviotto was criticized by MJ’s fans for the nasty scene at the end of the book, she once again pulled out her agoraphobia as a magic wand to explain everything – she said she was afraid of any meeting and this is why her reaction to two more people in the room was so strong.

However, given that she went on acting in horror films even despite her agoraphobia, her explanation doesn’t sound to me too convincing.

“…this was told only from my point of view — an agoraphobic struggling with leaving my house for any meeting, trying not to have a panic attack in front of an important client, and to arrive and see new faces, especially a child, made that meeting particularly stressful. I felt I had an obligation to include this scene because I had been honest throughout the entire book, and to exclude this felt dishonest to me. But some fans raged against me, calling me names, saying hateful things. 

That hurt, and made me reconsider ever reaching out to any of Jackson’s fans again.  Within weeks, however, a Jackson fan site posted a positive review, noting a reader could better understand Michael through what he had to say about Peter Pan. And other people have since praised the book, even telling me that Michael’s portrayal humanized him.”

Oh, those horrible, horrible fans – saying hateful things to her – not like those other people who praised her for humanizing Jackson …

To meet the people who praised her for “humanizing” Jackson I naturally followed the link provided  in the above interview – which is http://www.anagoraphobicsguide.com/

Judging by the name of it this is where I expected to find other agoraphobic sufferers getting together and praising Darlene Craviotto for her braveness to leave home and her undying effort to humanize Jackson.  And do you know where I found myself as a result?

I found myself on a German clothes-selling website.

The name of it is Anagoraph and for the uninitiated it looks and sounds almost like Agoraphobia which is evidently why it was used as a fake reference to those who allegedly praise the author for her being so nice to Jackson.

To be frank, discovering an online shopping site instead of people discussing the author’s book was quite a shock and made me really uncomfortable about Darlene Craviotto. This strange occurrence only added to the feeling that there is something more to the book that just meets the eye.

Here is the respective screenshot – just in case the link and site disappear for some reason.

Darlene Craviotto’s link to “other people who praised her book”

By the way, there are some lovely discounts there at the moment, and Stella McCartney’s cashmere pullover is not that bad, so you could still give it a try.

THE SPONSOR

Eventually I did find the people who praised the book for humanizing Jackson, but they turned out to be not some ordinary readers as you might expect, but Craviotto’s publishers who said how good the book was in their official press release announcing the publication. For some reason the press release came half a year after the book was published, in June 2012.

The only reason I can imagine for so late an announcement is because the publishers wanted to revive readers’ attention to the book and refresh their memory of Craviotto’s insinuations. Incidentally, right at that time the “boy from New Zealand” was also getting ready to come into the spotlight, so in terms of warming up the public for the soon-to-follow scandal the belated press release was a very logical thing to do.

Craviotto wrote about it in her blog and called it “a word from our sponsor”:

And Now A Word From Our Sponsor…

Posted on June 5, 2012

I’m proud to share this press release that came out yesterday for An Agoraphobic’s Guide to Hollywood – How Michael Jackson Got Me Out of the House.

http://www.prlog.org/11891788-award-winning-screenwriter-debuts-memoir-on-michael-jackson-project-and-agoraphobia.html?embed

So Darlene Craviotto did have a sponsor.

And this means that she didn’t self-publish the book and that someone invested money in her project and paid her for it.

Okay.

The press release didn’t say a single bad word about Jackson and was full of praise for the author: “The award-winning screenwriter”, “a car accident ended her promising acting career”, “battling agoraphobia and afraid to leave her house for twelve years”, “debuts memoir”, “the top secret Project M”,  “a book that humanizes the King of Pop in a way never seen before”.

In short it said all the right things to lure the public into reading it and included all possible information (complete with a link to the Anagoraph clothes-selling site) with the only exception that it never mentioned that the book was actually an anti-Jackson one.

Naturally, the next step to take was to look up the publisher, i.e. sponsor. The publisher turned out to be the “Front Door Books” publishing company, located in Santa Barbara, California, the place where Darlene Craviotto lives.  The publishers’ page says about their company:

“Front Door Books is a Media Content Publishing Company first started in 2011 in Santa Barbara, California.  It’s goal is to bring quality stories to film, digital, and print medias.  Its first book, An Agoraphobic’s Guide to Hollywood: How Michael Jackson Got Me Out of the House, written by screenwriter, Darlene Craviotto, is available in e-book and paperback on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, i-Tunes, and selective bookstores everywhere….”

Wait, so this was their first book? And the year when they published it was actually the year they started their company? Does it mean that this sponsor set up a publishing company with the sole purpose of printing Darlene Craviotto’s book?

My mind was racing over these strange facts like Craviotto’s mind was racing over that boy and his pizza. It also reasoned that there was nothing wrong for a new publisher to use her book as a start up, considering that Michael Jackson’s name is always an attraction. The year was 2011, so they must have published a lot since then, haven’t they?

And this is when we find that Craviotto’s book is actually the only book in this company’s portfolio. Or to be more exact, Craviotto is the only author whose stories this publisher releases. By now I have been able to spot two more of their joint publications – Craviotto’s 54-page essay and her recent fiction novel that came out in 2017 (if you find anything else, please advise), and that was all.

Front Door Books is not on the list of Santa Barbara publishers

After all these discoveries it was no longer a shock to discover that the list of 99 publishers located in Santa Barbara does not give the name of Front Door Books publishing house – which is all the more surprising since they did publish three of Craviotto’s stories, so there must be some mention of them at least somewhere, however there is none and all we have is their agent’s email and telephone indicated in that press-release.

All this gaslighting weirdness reminded me of the recent story of Harvey Weinstein’s former Massad or whoever agents who worked against his accusers under the cover of a fictional real property company in London which never existed, though they maintained a site of their own.

It also brought back to me the memory of another publishing company set up for the sole purpose of releasing a book of lies about Jackson. It was Ray Chandler for whom it was a way to avoid responsibility for the book content and violating the Chandlers’ confidentiality agreement with Jackson as he acted in the capacity of a publisher and not an author.

Craviotto didn’t self-publish as she had a sponsor, however it doesn’t make the matters better but only worse in my opinion.

Another thing I recalled is that Darlene Craviotto’s book is describing the moment in Michael’s life after which two books containing some photos of naked boys mysteriously appeared at his Neverland. One was a gift from a fan and one more was given to him for an autograph as Michael left a note on its flyleaf and signed it. In some mysterious way both books got into a locked cabinet in Michael’s closet where they were found only in 1993 during a police raid, when a maid who stopped working for Michael three years earlier (Blanca Francia) miraculously produced the key to it.

In short there is too much mystery about the books and publishing companies around Michael Jackson, if you understand what I mean. Michael always said that he was framed up, but everyone brushed it off as his paranoia, however when you put all these strange occurrences together the frame-up looks very much like the real thing.

Talk about paranoia in the weird circumstances when there is a unknown sponsor and non-existent publisher, and all of it is wrapped in some Anagoraph/Agoraphobia clothes-selling stuff. Isn’t it a bit too much?

SUMMARY

To get some footing in all this devilry let’s go over the main points and see what all of it boils down to.

  • In 1990 there was a certain Project M for a movie starring Jackson and for some reason it was top secret. The person hired to write the script was Darlene Craviotto.
  • At the time Hollywood had nothing bad to say about Jackson except his “eccentricities”, and the author may well be the one who actually started those innuendos.
  • In 2011 or so a secret sponsor gave Craviotto money for her debut memoir about Michael Jackson.
  • She included in her memoir a nasty scene making the worst kind of insinuations about MJ and a certain “boy from New Zealand”, based on her imagination only.
  • Craviotto’s book came out in November 2011, and this is when the publishing company that released it was also set up.
  • The book about Jackson was their first project followed only by a couple of other Craviotto’s publications which look more like a way to support and continue sponsoring this particular author.
  • The company is not listed anywhere as an official publisher. It has no address, and all we know is the email of their agent stated in their 2012 release. Actually nothing is known about this secret sponsor and publisher.
  • The only thing we know for sure is that the project was a deliberate attempt to sully Michael Jackson’s name. This time it was done in a more sophisticated way than usual, by masquerading as an entertaining story about agoraphobia and the Peter Pan project.
  • The secondary target of the book may well be Steven Spielberg who is made out as the only obstacle for realizing Project M. Given that the main audience of the book was supposed to be Michael Jackson’s fans, this is who the rage of the fans was evidently supposed to be directed at.
  • However Spielberg is not the one who is standing behind Craviotto’s book as he has nothing else to get from it except some damage to his name.
  • So it must be someone else. This person/people also have first-hand information about Project M and have given their okay to disclose at least some details of it in Craviotto’s book.

All of it makes Ms. Craviotto’s book a no less mystery than the top-secret Project M itself.

But it also lays the groundwork for digging further.

23 Comments leave one →
  1. raynmj permalink
    April 12, 2018 4:43 pm

    It’s a very good research Helena. I thank you for your effort and dedication to dig up the truth. The information you found out is overwhelming and surprising! You are indeed right, the “Andrew from New Zealand” can very well be “Wade from Australia”. The name Andrew seems nothing but an anagram for Wade. Wade Robson= Wade rn= Andrew. Dear Darlene surely has talent… talent for copying movie techniques into her narrative; how she narrates Michael and the child, how her mind was hovering over them like a film camera, and creating suspense for something horrible to happen. And the anagram thing can come from a movie like “Shutter Island (2010)”, where Leonardo DiCaprio had mental problem and tells his name in anagram of his real name…she also had agoraphobia right? The disease that made her assume certain things about Michael and the child, in an apparently normal situation.
    She said in her book,
    “As I lowered my voice and slipped into Hook, I hovered above Michael, watching him cuddle with the boy the way I did with my own children…His moves were like those of a mother: comforting and tender as he would reach out and take the little boy’s hand to hold it.”
    So, Michael’s benign affection towards the child was motherly or fatherly, comforting and tender. As we know Michael was tender and kind towards every child, it was Michael’s nature to be that caring. But for Darlene it was disturbing, which reveals either her own twisted mind or her deliberate attempt to suggest something sinister about MJ, and I think the later to be true. If that event ever took place, I don’t think it was what she was thinking at that time. It seems like later she added this creepy feelings of her to the event to suggest the reader some innuendos about Michael, which is out of place with the rest of the book’s narrative, much like Bashir’s documentary. It was just another smearing campaign for Michael Jackson.
    I visited Amazon.com and goodreads.com to read the reviews about Darlene’s book, and was surprised by all the positive reviews and was altogether more surprised to see the same reviews by same people ( I spotted 5) in these two sites. As if they don’t have any other business but to write pro-Darlene reviews of this anti-Michael book in all these sites. Hell of a book right?

    Like

  2. February 24, 2018 3:59 am

    “In case people didn’t notice, I’m reprinting several pertinent facts about the production of Hook that clearly undermine Ms. Craviotto’s account.” – luv4hutch

    The story of making Hook is so intricate that it needs to be discussed in much more detail. Part 2 in this series is exactly about these details and a couple of things mentioned by you. Also please remember that there are also too many “urban legends” around this subject.

    Like

  3. February 24, 2018 3:51 am

    ““And now, a word from our sponsor” is a cliché phrase that they typically said before cutting to a commercial in old U.S. television programs. It doesn’t necessarily mean she’s talking about a particular person who is sponsoring her for her libelous insinuations. It might still be a self published effort (since this Front Door books seems to only publish her own books).” – NeoIsis

    Okay, let us assume that it was a self-published effort, but what does it change? It doesn’t make things easier for Craviotto in any way, because if she self-published it I see no reason why she was so secretive about it.

    There is nothing wrong in self-publishing the book except that it requires much money (remember Aphrodite Jones explaining the high price of her book by having to self-publish), but for some reason Craviotto decided to muddy the waters and distance herself from the publisher same as the publishers distanced themselves from her.

    So whichever way you look at it, the whole thing is still a bit fishy.

    Like

  4. February 24, 2018 3:20 am

    ” published in 2011, as well as Kaarin222 pointed out below, initially in 1992 – 93″ – Asma

    Sorry it took me so long to answer, but the above is just some misunderstanding. Craviotto’s book was released in 2011, the events she is describing were supposed to take place in 1990. She doesn’t specify when exactly she started writing the script (at least I haven’t found it yet), but said that her contract set September as the deadline. At some point Disney executives asked her to hurry up and submit the script in May as they were afraid that a rival company would snatch Michael from the project and offer their own, directed by Coppola.

    This is what they said. However it does give us the idea of the period within which the script was supposed to be written. If they allowed her time until September and if you calculate it from the 1st of January it will make about nine months, which is really too much for making a script (no one will wait that long), so my idea of when she started would not be January, but a much later date, sometime in spring at best.

    As to your other questions they will be answered in the follow-up posts.

    Like

  5. February 21, 2018 9:47 pm

    In case people didn’t notice, I’m reprinting several pertinent facts about the production of Hook that clearly undermine Ms. Craviotto’s account.

    -Spielberg already had decided in the ’80s that he wanted to do a story of Peter Pan having grown up, inspired by the fact that J.M. Barrie had once considered it.
    -Michael was approached about the concept at that time, with it being a musical, bit Michael turned it down, because he didn’t like the idea of Peter Pan growing up.
    -James V. Hart, who is credited as the screenwriter, wrote the first draft by 1987, and Dustin Hoffman had already been signed on to play Hook.
    -Hart worked on rewriting the script during this period while Spielberg did his various other projects. Spielberg had already officially gotten the deal to distribute the film through TriStar Pictures. Disney was never part of the conversation in producing the film.
    -The script was then brought in for polishing by several script doctors, including Carrie Fisher.
    -The script was locked down and preproduction, especially the building of the sets, already started by the time Ms. Craviotto allegedly was hired.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. NeoIsis permalink
    February 19, 2018 2:15 pm

    There are certainly people in SB county who don’t wish well to Michael or his legacy and who would like to look like they were “right” all along to persecute him. On the other hand, “And now, a word from our sponsor” is a cliché phrase that they typically said before cutting to a commercial in old U.S. television programs. It’s like saying “And now, here’s an advertisement”. It doesn’t necessarily mean she’s talking about a particular person who is sponsoring her for her libelous insinuations. It might still be a self published effort (since this Front Door books seems to only publish her own books). And of course it’s also not necessarily an accurate representation of what she really experienced or thought in 1990. She may have really had inappropriate creepy ideas about the pizza boy at the time , or her memory may have been embellished
    later after the many years of tabloid mud-slinging. Either way it’s disgusting and her over-the-top suspicious comments are reminiscent of the trashy Bashir. But I don’t blame her for the NAMBLA interest. Remember Victor G was already obsessed with the idea from about 1986. However it’s possible there could be a connection with WR. By 2011 when her book was published, he was still publicly praising Michael and trying to work on tribute projects. But isn’t that when he had his “first breakdown”? I wonder when he started trying to write abuse fiction as a back-up plan?

    Like

  7. February 18, 2018 9:56 pm

    I’ve done some digging about the production of Hook. It clearly shows that Ms. Craviotto’s account is largely, if not wholly, fabricated.

    -Spielberg already had decided in the ’80s that he wanted to do a story of Peter Pan having grown up, inspired by the fact that J.M. Barrie had once considered it.
    -Michael was approached about the concept at that time, with it being a musical, bit Michael turned it down, because he didn’t like the idea of Peter Pan growing up.
    -James V. Hart, who is credited as the screenwriter, wrote the first draft by 1987, and Dustin Hoffman had already been signed on to play Hook.
    -Hart worked on rewriting the script during this period while Spielberg did his various other projects. Spielberg had already officially gotten the deal to distribute the film through TriStar Pictures. Disney was never part of the conversation in producing the film.
    -The script was then brought in for polishing by several script doctors, including Carrie Fisher.
    -The script was locked down and preproduction, especially the building of the sets, already started by the time Ms. Craviotto allegedly was hired.

    Like

  8. Asma permalink
    February 15, 2018 2:49 am

    Hello dearest Susanne,

    As usual, it is always so comforting to hear yours (and Helena’s) logical, and level headed take in all things in the world of Michael. I sure hope you are right. I know it had some in the MJ community a bit panicked as now the narrative with him adds “song thief.” While Jones is old and did speak pf several people, discussing the private lives of certain others does not take away from them as much as it takes away from accusing a long time professional partner of thievery. And there were so many who were saying, “Why would QJ lie about this. He worked with MJ.” So that has bern frustrating. Hopefully like you said though, it will only reveal to show how bitter Q is (something the fans of Michael have been saying long before this interview) and die totally down. You are far more intelligent and astute than I am, so I shall take your word for it. At least one good thing happened to draw the discussion away from this drama. This article from Rolling Stone magazine:

    https://www.rollingstone.com/music/features/michael-janet-jacksons-hard-rock-beat-it-black-cat-w516521

    Now to Helena and this book. I really don’t know quite what to make of it. It sounds like it is trying very hard to implant seeds in people’s minds regarding Michael Jackson. The motive is clear that it is anti MJ dressed up under the guise of an entertaining story. But my question is, how could the author not know ahead of time that people wouldn’t see through to her and what she was trying to do with these innuendos?

    Based on the comments you shared, dear Helena, a number of people saw right through to her, yes? And this being published in 2011, as well as Kaarin222 pointed out below, initially in 1992 – 93, it was well before Wade Robson came into the public fore. I would guess that the book was serving the purpose to plant seeds first to set the stage for Robson. However, if the book was initially to come to light in the early 1990s, that wouldn’t make much sense. Unless of course, the stage was being set then for let’s say, the Chandlers’ entrance into the public.

    In essence I wonder, did the rumors truly start with this particular author? Or was this book just written for the purpose of making us to *believe* that they did?

    I cannot help but feel very confused about that. Whatever the case, it seems definite that this book, like you said Helena, is a sophisticated means to tarnish MJ’s name. If I may also add from my own feelings reading about it, it feels downright creepy to me with the innuendos. It is really sad these people do not understand that insinuations like these are not to be played around with, and only make *themselves* look shady and untrustworthy. Not Michael.

    Thank you again Helena, for such an important bit of information.

    Like

  9. February 14, 2018 4:55 am

    Asma, I also read the Quincy Jones interview, but I think it’s not worth the drama. In the end there is not much to say except one thing: Quincy Jones is an old man now with a poor memory, if not an incipient dementia. Old men in this state often start to babble and talk nonsense.
    I read the whole interview, he not only talked bad about Michael, but also about other people. I think he doesn’t know anymore what he says and his advisors/family should keep him from doing any more interviews because he tarnishes his own reputation. Not only MJ fans react surprised and dismissively to his statements. I think we shouldn’t take his statements too seriously and they are not worth to be discussed in detail.
    I know he denied MJ’s vitiligo already years ago, but he makes a fool of himself with this statement because he ignores the autopsy report.

    Like

  10. Asma permalink
    February 12, 2018 2:23 pm

    This looks like another fascinated post. So sorry I have been MIA there, Helena. Been totally busy and also got a little bit caught up in following the Quincy Jones drama. It seems like once again when MJ was getting just a semblence of support due to the Super Bowl and new PEPSI commercial, bam. Jones says “he stole” the landmark song that made him. So I was just following that there for the past week.

    I look forward start reading this post. It is interesting that I never heard of this book back in 2011. I keep thinking about your last post l, Helena. Trying to figure out who this Peter Theil type figure may be regarding Michael. I wished the mystery would be solved but the layers to it seem to make it a little bit intimidating. Okay, going to read now.

    Like

  11. February 11, 2018 5:13 pm

    Projection certainly could explain a lot of Ms. Craviotto’s feelings and motives. After all the biggest lies tend to be the ones we tell ourselves, so entrenched that we don’t even know about it.

    P.S. This is someone’s recent op-ed in the New York Times. Just thought it deserved to be dissected and discussed: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/02/09/opinion/smearing-of-woody-allen.html?comments#permid=25904879

    Like

  12. February 11, 2018 10:18 am

    In Vanity Fair on 5.3 2003 it states that Steven Spielberg and David Geffen were on the rumored list of Mihcaels enemies for the voodoo ritual..

    Like

  13. February 10, 2018 9:20 pm

    Ms. Craviotto seems a bit obsessed with pizza. She has written a book “The Pizzaman”
    There is some similarity to” Project M.” 2 female friends sit at home and discuss common
    topics between women friends, that is “men” problems.The mood is relaxed and the fire in the fireplace is about to go out.They discuss raping men, we could arrange a man to rape another man.This is just fantasy and their mood is relaxed..Then comes the pizzaman to deliver the pizza. Suddenly flames break out from the fireplace and all changes to terror.
    She may have agoraphobia or not, or just use this as an excuse for her panicked and ad hoc conclusions, Maybe she has even read up on Freud.Also the “project M” originally took place in 1992 or 93.Her book was published in 2011. Over the years she has had time to recover
    from her alleged claustrophobia and has sure read about Michael. So writing a controversial
    book may have suited her promoter and herself too.

    Like

  14. February 6, 2018 5:32 pm

    Fantastic sight. It must be really inspiring to be part of something so great. Congratulations!

    The landing Falcons are as graceful as ballerinas.
    Happy for you and all humans.
    A nice day.

    I cannot even imagine how much this would have inspired Michael Jackson.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. February 5, 2018 7:58 pm

    Let me just add DR. Sigmund Freud ‘s take on agoraphobia; It is common in recently married women. The basis is their unconscious sexual impulses,and this creates a fear of
    exposing these desires in public..So the only safety is staying home.Also called “the housebound housewife”.The project was “secret”-this adds some mystery.Craviotto uses projective identification ,ie she thinks Michael has secret sexual impöulses just like she.
    Projecive identification is not a conscious defense, it is a means of placing a feature of yourself onto another and thus be able to condemn it.

    Like

  16. February 5, 2018 9:01 am

    “I still remember the shock I felt when she suddenly revealed this story about pizza boy. I remember thinking — where the hell did this come from?. Michael was a master at reading people. When I read the book initially I was unsure as to why he abandoned her because she webbed her sympathetic story very well — but now I do. Michael knew. By that time he’d been in Hollywood and the music business for decades. He could smell a snake a mile away. This book has troubled me for a long time. Now I know why. ” – corlista1

    Corlista, your comment was very helpful to me and very insightful. And now that you found in this post some answers to what troubled you then, it is the best confirmation that we are going in the right direction. Thank you very much for your input.

    “It’s also possible her screenplay wasn’t good enough and the project got dumped because of it but what better way to explain away her inadequacy than to blame it on Michael, the pizza boy, Spielberg, etc.”

    It also crossed my mind that the script was not as good as she says it was. There is a scene in the book where she finished reading the script and Buddy started making suggestions how to make it even better, but she no longer listened. She explained it no longer mattered as the script was to be turned in to Disney right away.

    “Very good,” Buddy finally says.
    “It’s wonderful, Darlene,” Michael adds softly.
    There words should be enough, but of course they’re not. Buddy begins to ask questions, and Michael simply sits back and says nothing. Everything we’ve worked on together, talked about, and considered is now under Buddy’s microscope. He picks away at a character trait here, a story point here, grabbing at threads and pulling apart what has taken months to weave together. If he were Michael, I’d be taking notes. If he were Steven, I’d be listening. I would make changes; I’d shape the story in the direction they wanted to go. But he’s not Michael or Steven, and so I pretend to take notes, and I nod conciliatorily, just to keep the peace. Pulling inside of myself emotionally, I simply retreat. When an appropriate amount of time has passed, and I’ve fielded as many of Buddy’s questions that I can tolerate, I bring the meeting to an abrupt halt.
    “Disney wants to read this,” I say.
    “Michael thinks he’d like to read it one more time before you turn it in.”
    I look over at Michael, not wanting to hear how he feels, or what he thinks as answers from Buddy, but from Michael himself. He has trouble looking at me, and that says more to me than words.

    As regards Buz Kohan I have just looked up his credits http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0463171/ and they made me gasp – the number of the awards he won and was nominated for is sensational. He has 13 Primetime Emmy awards, 3 other wins and also 21 nominations. Here is only a small part of it:

    PRIMETIME EMMIES
    1991 Won
    Outstanding Writing in a Variety or Music Program
    The 63rd Annual Academy Awards (1991)

    1990 Won
    Outstanding Variety, Music or Comedy Special
    Sammy Davis, Jr. 60th Anniversary Celebration (1990)
    Won
    Outstanding Music and Lyrics
    From the Heart… The First International Very Special Arts Festival (1989)
    Shared with: Larry Grossman (composer)

    Nominated
    Outstanding Music and Lyrics
    Sammy Davis, Jr. 60th Anniversary Celebration (1990)
    Shared with: Michael Jackson (composer/lyricist) For the song “You Were There”.

    NB: The above is how we know that Darlene Craviotto’s “Buddy” stands for Buz Kohan:
    “Later that night, I settle in to watch the previously taped Sammy Davis Jr. Tribute on television, waiting to watch Michael’s performance in it. He sings a song that he wrote just for Sammy, a ballad honoring him as an entertainer. When the credits roll, I’m surprised to see that Buddy also wrote one of the songs performed on the show.”

    1988 Won
    Outstanding Achievement in Music and Lyrics
    Julie Andrews: The Sound of Christmas (1987)
    Shared with: Larry Grossman (composer) For the song “The Sound of Christmas”.

    1987 Won
    Outstanding Achievement in Music and Lyrics
    Liberty Weekend (1986)
    Shared with: Larry Grossman (composer) For the song “Welcome to Liberty”. For the opening ceremonies.

    1986 Won
    Outstanding Achievement in Music and Lyrics
    Andy Williams and the NBC Kids Search for Santa(1985)
    Shared with: Larry Grossman (composer) For the song “My Christmas Wish”.

    1985 Nominated
    Outstanding Writing in a Variety or Music Program
    Motown Returns to the Apollo (1985)

    1984 Won
    Outstanding Achievement in Music and Lyrics
    Here’s Television Entertainment (1983)
    Shared with: Larry Grossman (composer) For the song “Gone Too Soon”.

    1983 Won
    Outstanding Variety, Music or Comedy Program
    Motown 25: Yesterday, Today, Forever (1983)

    Nominated
    Outstanding Achievement in Music and Lyrics
    The 55th Annual Academy Awards (1983)
    Shared with: Larry Grossman (composer) For the song “And It All Comes Down to This”.

    1982 Won
    Outstanding Achievement in Music and Lyrics
    Shirley MacLaine… Illusions (1982)
    Shared with: Larry Grossman (composer) For the song “On the Outside Looking In”.

    Nominated
    Outstanding Achievement in Music and Lyrics
    Night of 100 Stars (1982) For the song “What’s Your Line?”

    1980 Won
    Outstanding Writing in a Variety or Music Program
    Shirley MacLaine… ‘Every Little Movement’ (1980)

    Or look at Kohan’s scripts at around the same time:

    1991 The Walt Disney Company Presents the American Teacher Awards (TV Special)
    1990 The 16th Annual People’s Choice Awards (TV Special)
    1990 Christmas at Home (TV Movie documentary) (written by)
    1990 Sinatra 75: The Best Is Yet to Come (TV Special documentary) (writer)
    1990 Grammy Legends (TV Special)
    1990 The 42nd Annual Primetime Emmy Awards (TV Special)
    1989 All-Star Tribute to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (TV Movie)
    1989 From the Heart… The First International Very Special Arts Festival (TV Movie)
    1989 The 15th Annual People’s Choice Awards (TV Special)
    1989 5th Annual TV Academy Hall of Fame (TV Special)
    1988 America’s Tribute to Bob Hope (TV Movie documentary)
    1987 Dolly (TV Series) (written by – 1 episode)
    – A Tennessee Mountain Thanksgiving (1987) … (written by)
    1987 We the People 200: The Constitutional Gala (TV Movie)
    1987 Andy Williams and the NBC Kids: Easter in Rome (TV Movie)
    1986 Liberty Weekend (TV Special documentary)
    1986 The 3rd Annual Television Academy Hall of Fame Awards (TV Special)
    1986 Living Seas (TV Movie)
    1985 Andy Williams and the NBC Kids Search for Santa (TV Special)
    1985 The Patti LaBelle Show (TV Special)
    1985 Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton: Together (TV Movie)
    1985 Motown Returns to the Apollo (TV Special) (writing supervisor)
    1985 50th Presidential Inaugural Gala (TV Special)
    1985 The Shirley MacLaine Show (TV Movie) (writer)
    1984 Kenny & Dolly: A Christmas to Remember (TV Movie documentary)

    So when Buz Kohan was there at Michael’s place listening to the Peter Pan final script he was a much more famous and obviously better writer than Darlene Craviotto. And this is the real reason why she was so nervous.

    And this adds another question to the list of all those mysteries around Project M – if a writer like Buz Kohan was available to Michael Jackson and was ready to participate in the project why did they call Darlene Craviotto instead?

    The only possible answer to that is – they didn’t mean it from the start of it and intended to drop it anyway. With Craviotto it was easy. With Buz Kohan it would have been a much bigger problem.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. corlista1 permalink
    February 4, 2018 9:28 pm

    I was probably one of the early ones who read Craviotto’s book. I was the one who wrote your quote “Darlene writes with charm, humor and sensitivity….” etc. I also believe – and still believe – that Michael’s dialogue about Peter Pan reveals much about his deep affinity for Peter Pan and how distrustful he was of the outside world. I must admit I didn’t know the NZ child was WR or that Buddy was Buz Cohen. I was too early in my love of Michael to understand which now, of course, I do. Given the evidence you’ve presented, I now believe she was one of the earliest pawns to set Michael up and ultimately bring him down. I still remember the shock I felt when she suddenly revealed this story about pizza boy. I remember thinking — where the hell did this come from?. Michael was a master at reading ppl. When I read the book initially I was unsure as to why he abandoned her bec she webbed her sympathetic story very well — but now I do. Michael knew. By that time he’d been in Hollywood and the music business for decades. He cld smell a snake a mile away. It’s also possible her screenplay wasn’t good enough and the project got dumped because of it but what better way to explain away her inadequacy than to blame it on Michael, the pizza boy, Spielberg, etc. Thank you for opening my eyes. This book has troubled me for a long time. Now I know why.

    Like

  18. February 4, 2018 5:51 am

    “Not only does Ms. Craviotto seem thoroughly suspect, if she is the person who got the train rolling regarding Michael having evil intent with children, then she truly has blood on her hands. Hell is too good for her.” -luv4hutch

    She may be responsible for a lot of things regarding MJ, but please, let us not turn into “fans that said hateful things to her” she mentioned in the interview. Firstly, everyone should be given the benefit of the doubt, and secondly, all of us will answer for what we do, Craviotto included.
    Our goal is to establish the truth and remain as cool-headed and objective as it is only possible in untangling this ugly plot around MJ.

    “the picture shown here simply doesn’t jibe with what is known about Steven Spielberg, or what was shown in the recent HBO documentary about his career.”

    Thank you for your comment on this. I know very little about Spielberg as a person, so will try to look up that documentary. We need to dig much deeper to get to the bottom of it.

    Like

  19. February 4, 2018 4:33 am

    “Robson is from Australian though, not New Zealand. So, the child referred to by this author seems unlikely to be Wade Robson.” -DJH

    Of course Robson is from Australia. However in real life “Buddy” is not Buddy either, but Buz Kohan or Buzzy. And there was no “Andrew from New Zealand” among the children who were friends with Michael Jackson at that time.

    Liked by 2 people

  20. February 4, 2018 4:29 am

    “So what is u point? Are u for or against MJ?” -IB

    I am not “against” anyone. I stand for the truth, and the truth is that Michael Jackson was innocent.

    Liked by 2 people

  21. DJH permalink
    February 4, 2018 1:19 am

    The book sounds like a total con. Wade Robson is from Australian though, not New Zealand. So, the child referred to by this author seems unlikely to be Wade Robson.

    Like

  22. Irina B permalink
    February 3, 2018 11:47 pm

    So what is u point? Are u for or against MJ?

    IB

    >

    Like

  23. February 3, 2018 9:23 pm

    Talk about the anatomy of a frame-up. Not only does Ms. Craviotto seem thoroughly suspect, if she is the person who got the train rolling regarding Michael having evil intent with children, then she truly has blood on her hands. If she’s responsible for NAMBLA’s interested in Michael, especially with Corey Feldman’s abusers being angry at his friendship with Michael, with raising suspicion to the point that LaToya was conned into writing that book, and leading up to the Chandler, Arvizo, Robson and Safechuck cases, then Hell is too good for her.

    Not to mention that the picture shown here simply doesn’t jibe with what is known about Steven Spielberg, or what was shown in the recent HBO documentary about his career. True that he and Michael weren’t really together much after he wrote the little testimonial in the liner notes of HIStory, and didn’t lift a finger to defend Michael from the blatant manufactroversy of the lyrics of “They Don’t Care About Us,” but Spielberg hardly seems like someone who would shank a friend like this and essentially break contracts at will. This is behavior more line with when Ridley Scott and Russell Crowe did so on the Robin Hood project because of second-guessing a script that would have the Sheriff of Nottingham as the hero. It doesn’t fit Spielberg at all.

    Like

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