Spot­light on two Fil-Ams in ‘This Is It’

Philippine Daily Inquirer - - FRONT PAGE - Ruben V. Nepales

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.

Trib­ute

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.

PHO­TOS BY RUBEN V. NEPALES.

GOCO, KLAPOW, ORTEGA AND PAYNE. Mem­o­ries of Michael, both happy and sad.

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