Spotlight on two Fil-Ams in ‘This Is It’
LOS ANGELES—AT THE premiere party for the fascinating documentary, “This Is It,” we bumped into Filipino-American Zaldy Goco, who is one of the costume designers of what would have been Michael Jackson’s London concerts. Zaldy, who is interviewed in the film, told us that his family is from Parañaque.
Zaldy was a striking sight, with his long, black hair and a black top. We could imagine why designers like Jean Paul Gaultier and Thierry Mugler tapped him to model for them. Some of the costumes that Zaldy designed for MJare part of the exhibit of the King of Pop’s memorabilia that opened last Wednesday at The O2 in London, where Michael’s 50 sold-out concerts had been scheduled to take place.
Zaldy, who was Gwen Stefani’s stylist/designer for her L.A.M.B. fashion label, has his own line, which he operates in New York. Inspired by his grandmother who had her own fashion school in the Philippines, he studied at Parsons School of Design in LA and the Fashion Institute of Technology in NY. He went on to become an image consultant for Donna Karan, Shiseido and M.A.C.
The talented Fil-Am, who went with his sister to the premiere, has collaborated with such names as Mick Jagger, Beyoncé, Jennifer Lopez, Mary J. Blige, Shakira, Keith Richards, Halle Berry, Christina Aguilera and Britney Spears.
Speaking of J Lo, the singer-actress was also present at the premiere. Other guests who attended the screening and/or party were the Jackson brothers (Marlon, Tito, Jackie and Jermaine), Will Smith, Paula Abdul, Adam Lambert, David Cook, Neil Patrick Harris and Ashley Tisdale.
Travis Payne, the concert’s choreographer who was resplendent in a white jacket that was a nod to Michael’s style, shared with us how much he enjoyed his Manila visit as part of the music superstar’s “Dangerous” tour many years ago.
We were also glad to finally meet Charles “Chucky” Klapow, one of the amazing dancers picked by Michael for the concert. Chucky, who opens the film, along with his fellow dancers (they were interviewed right after they were selected), told us that watching “This Is It” gave him a sense of closure. As we wrote earlier, Chucky had to turn down an offer to choreograph the remake of “Footloose” (which stars Chace Crawford) to fulfill his dream of dancing with his idol, Michael. The Gloved One’s demise dashed that dream, but the concert footage shows the excellent dancing that the London audiences would have loved.
As a tribute to his idol, Chucky wore the same ensemble—green jacket, loose pants—that he sports in “This Is It.” After the party, Chucky and his sister, Kimberly, whose mother, Sylvia Moscoso, grew up at West Triangle Homes in Quezon City until she moved to the US at age 16, proceeded to a cineplex in an LA suburb, where they caught a midnight screening of the musical docu. “—With some 50 members of my family,” Chucky said with a laugh.
“I have relatives in the Philippines, but most of my cousins are already scattered throughout the United States,” added Chucky, who co-choreographed all three “High School
Musical” movies. “I have a very large family, and many of them are still in the Philippines.”
Chucky also said his father’s name is Arnie Klapow, who was born in New York of Russian descent but grew up in Los Angeles. The amiable Fil-Am flew back the following day to Vancouver, where he was working as a choreographer on a Lucas Grabeel starrer, “The Legend of the Dancing Ninja.” He revealed, “I’m working with a Filipina in that movie. Her name is Elise Estrada, who’s a Canadian pop star. She’s definitely someone to watch out for. Every Filipino I’ve been lucky enough to teach, including Vanessa Hudgens, has been a natural dancer. I feel like dance and rhythm are in every Filipino’s soul. I’m honored to be able to represent our people as an artist.”
We introduced director Dante Nico Garcia, who was our guest, to Chucky, Zaldy and some celebrities at the party. Dante is in LA with Michael Tuviera, the producer of “Ded Na Si Lolo,” the Philippines’ entry to the Best Foreign Language Film category in the coming Academy Awards. He is fulfilling a vow that he, Judy Ann Santos and their “Ploning” colleagues made—to share what they learned from their Oscar-campaign experi- ence with the Judy Ann starrer last year.
Dante expressed his thoughts about having attended the “This Is It” premiere and party via e-mail. “ Nakakabata,” was how he summed up his experience. “I remember how it felt when I was a kid from the province na nakipagsiksikan sa Araneta para sa big promo ng ‘Horsey, Horsey…Tigidig, Tigidig’ at sa premiere night ng ‘Ako si Kiko, Ako si Kikay.’
“After working for more than a decade sa industriya, matagal ko nang hindi na-experience na ma-starstruck, dahil marami na akong kaibigang artista ngayon.”
Magic of cinema
He continued, “ Ang sarap maramdaman na fan ka uli. Sa isang kaway at ngiti ng artista, feeling mo, may bond na kayo. Suddenly, you feel the magic of cinema again—this time, from a fan’s perspective. Habang pinapanood ko ang pelikula, pinakamasarap ang feeling doon sa part na nag-‘ I love you’ si Michael sa mga kapatid niya. Tapos, alam mo pa na nandun sila sa theater. I imagined how his brothers felt at that moment. Nakakakilabot.”
We agree with Dante that Michael’s “thank you” to his brothers was very moving. Even though the singer was merely rehearsing that part, it was heartfelt. While “This Is It” is no doubt an enthralling final look at the legendary entertainer, it also left us sad. The concert film-documentary hybrid, megged by Kenny Ortega, who was also the director of the London concerts, reminded us that we have lost a truly remarkable artist.
The film offers a fascinating glimpse into the man behind the artist. The audience at the Nokia Theatre screening sat transfixed as they witnessed a side of MJ that was rarely shown—how he works to create a great show. It was mesmerizing just seeing and hearing him give instructions at rehearsals, like “Play it like you’re dragging yourself out of bed,” “It has to simmer,” “It needs more booty,” and a snappy “I want it like I wrote it.”
After an excellent performance of “Billie Jean,” Michael said, “At least, we got a feel for it.” That wow of a performance was just a “feel”? The Nokia crowd then broke into an incredulous, appreciative buzz.
GOCO, KLAPOW, ORTEGA AND PAYNE. Memories of Michael, both happy and sad.