(NEW YORK) — Michael Jackson: Bad25, a documentary about the making of Michael Jackson’s landmark 1987 album Bad, airs on ABC Thanksgiving night.
The in-depth film was directed by Spike Lee, who traces the King of Pop’s creative process as he followed up from the success of his 1982 album Thriller.
Lee first worked with Jackson more than a decade and a half ago, directing the 1996 music video “They Don’t Really Care About Us.”
“When I got that phone call and he was on the other line I hung up because I thought it was an impersonator,” Lee tells ABC News Radio. “It was really a big moment in my life when Michael Jackson called me on my phone to do a music video.”
Jackson asked Lee to come to California to hear his song, but the new dad had just welcomed his first child home, and couldn’t make the trip. That didn’t stop Jackson, though.
“He came to Fort Greene, Brooklyn, to my house, my brownstone, to play the songs,” Lee says.
Jackson had a passion for his craft, and Michael Jackson: Bad25 shines a light on that passion. In one scene, viewers will see footage of Jackson in November 1986, working on the choreography for the Martin Scorsese-directed “Bad” music video in his hotel room with choreographers Caszper Canidate and Jeffrey Daniel.
In the clip, Daniel talks about how the three of them developed the iconic dance sequence in the “Bad” video. He says that he and Canidate would work with Jackson’s dancers in the daytime, then the trio would meet back at the hotel, and work together until the wee hours of the morning.
“We’d take turns creating different things, making different things happen,” Daniel says. Each of the guys would get their turn, “but it wasn’t like a dance-off,” he says. Instead, the three of them were “inspiring each other and pushing each other to the next limit.”
Daniel is one of several people who share their behind-the-scenes stories from the making of Michael’s Bad album. Siedah Garrett is another contributor who appears in Michael Jackson: Bad25. The singer and songwriter helped pen the duet “I Just Can’t Stop Loving You.”
In an interview with ABC News Radio, she recalls joining Jackson in the studio to record her part on the track, and remembers that he admired her work on the song.
“So, Michael follows me into the booth and he starts filming me and I remember asking him, ‘Why are you doing this?'” Garrett tells ABC News Radio. “He said, ‘Because you have so much emotion and I just love the way you sing it and I wanna sing it like you.'”
Bad was the first album on which nearly all of the songs were written by Jackson. He co-wrote nine of the album’s 11 tracks, and was listed as a co-producer for the entire project.
“He might not be able to play the guitar riff in ‘Beat It,’ or ‘Billie Jean,’ but he can sing it to the guitar player and he’ll get the feel that we wants,” Garrett recalls. “He had a human beatbox in his body that was ridiculous.”
She says that Jackson was always looking to improve.
“Like athletes, they love to watch themselves on tape and then better their game. He was just like that. He wanted to better himself at every turn,” she says.
In addition to interviews with Jackson’s collaborators, Lee also did one-on-one interviews with the King of Pop’s famous fans. The list includes Mariah Carey, Cee Lo Green and Kanye West, among others.
Michael Jackson: Bad25 airs on ABC Thursday night at 9:30 p.m. Eastern time.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Sandra Gonzalez, CNN
Brandon Griggs, CNN
Nate Eaton, EastIdahoNews.com