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In late November 2001, the CBS television network aired a two-hour special in honor of Michael Jackson's thirtieth year as a solo entertainer (his first solo single, "Got to Be There", was recorded in 1971). The show was edited from footage of two separate concerts Michael had orchestrated in New York Citymarker's Madison Square Gardenmarker on September 7 and September 10 of 2001. The shows sold out in five hours. Ticket prices were pop's most expensive ever; the best seats cost $5,000 and included a dinner with Michael Jackson and a signed poster. Jackson reportedly earned $7.5 million for each of the two concerts, which is over $150,000 per minute. The show ranked first in black viewers over the decade ending 2008.

The concerts are mentioned in the VH1 biopic Man in the Mirror: The Michael Jackson Story, which notes that the last of the two concerts wrapped up just hours before two hijacked jet planes were crashed into the Twin Towers of Lower Manhattan's World Trade Centermarker (see September 11th terrorist attacks). The concerts featured in the Michael Jackson: 30th Anniversary Special were his final performances. Jackson would have embarked on the This Is It tour, a 50-date residency at the O2 arena; however, he died less than three weeks prior to the first planned performance.

Marlon Brando appeared in the concert to speak about humanitarian work but it was not broadcast due to poor response from the audience. Raw footage can be found online.

First hour

Opening the show was Samuel L. Jackson's presentation of Usher, Whitney Houston & Mýa, performing a rendition of Michael's hit song "Wanna Be Startin' Somethin'", from his 1982 album, Thriller. Among other performers and guests were Liza Minnelli singing "You Are Not Alone"; young Billy Gilman's performance of Jackson's 1972 #1 U.S. hit "Ben"; and James Ingram with Gloria Estefan singing Jackson's 1987 ballad, "I Just Can't Stop Loving You" (another #1 U.S. hit). Marc Anthony also sang "She's out of My Life".

Second hour

The second hour of the show is by far the best remembered, featuring the exciting reunion of Michael and his brothers Jermaine, Jackie, Randy, Marlon, and Tito for a "greatest hits" medley, including their headlining songs "Can You Feel It", "ABC", "The Love You Save", "I Want You Back", "I'll Be There" and "Shake Your Body ". Following the reunion, Michael announced surprise guests for the Jackson 5 hit "Dancing Machine": *NSYNC.

Following a short intermission, Chris Tucker then appeared onstage, recalls a humorous conversation between him and Jackson (imitating his voice) before announcing a live performance of "Billie Jean" (The broadcast version is different showing The Way You Make Me Feel/Black Or White/Beat It and then Billie Jean). The superstar once again hit the stage, this time flanked by scores of dancers dressed as gang members for "Beat It". As Michael glided and danced his way across the floor, the crowd roared all the louder in appreciation. Immediately afterward, Slash was properly introduced for a rendition of "Black or White". Then, to wind things down, Jackson was joined by Britney Spears for a performance of "The Way You Make Me Feel". The broadcast version that aired featured a different dancer than Spears while Jackson sang the whole song due to contractual reasons , the removed clip can be found online. After, he performed his newest single, "You Rock My World", from the recently-released album Invincible. Michael was joined at the end of the song by Usher, who performed a smooth robotic dance routine. (The broadcast version ends after You Rock My World). Near the end of the final song, Jackson and Co. sang "We Are the World" onstage in an otherwise elaborate finale.

Set lists

  • (Both shows took place in September, 2001, at Madison Square Garden in New York City)
  • The DVD resequenced the songs somewhat, and presented the highlights from both concerts

1st Night, Friday, the 7th

Song Sung Performer(s)
Introduction Samuel L. Jackson
"Wanna Be Startin' Somethin'" Usher
Mýa
Whitney Houston

Humanitarian Speech
not televised
Marlon Brando
"Ben" Billy Gilman
"Angel"
"It Wasn't Me"
Shaggy
Ravyon
Rikrok

"You Can't Win" - The Wiz
not televised
Jill Scott as the Scarecrow
"Ease on Down the Road" - The Wiz
not televised
Monica as Dorothy
Jill Scott as the Scarecrow
Al Jarreau as the Tin Man
Deborah Cox as the Cowardly Lion


"I Just Can't Stop Loving You" James Ingram
Gloria Estefan
"She's out of My Life" Marc Anthony
"Heal the World" Mýa
Deborah Cox
Rah Digga
Monica
Tamia
The Brooklyn Youth Choir




"You Are Not Alone"
"Never Never Land" not televised
"Over the Rainbow" not televised

Liza Minelli
"Bootylicious" Destiny's Child
"Crying Time"
not televised
Ray Charles
Casandra Wilson
Speech
not televised
Elizabeth Taylor
"Can You Feel It"
"I Want You Back"
"Shake Your Body "
"ABC"
"The Love You Save"
"I'll Be There"




The Jacksons
"Dancing Machine" The Jacksons
*NSYNC
"The Way You Make Me Feel" Michael Jackson
Britney Spears
"Billie Jean" Michael Jackson
"Black or White"
"Beat It"
Michael Jackson
Slash
"You Rock My World" Michael Jackson
Usher
"We Are the World" All Artists
Kenny Rogers
Yoko Ono
Quincy Jones




2nd Night, Monday, the 10th

Song(s) Sung Performer(s)
Introduction Samuel L. Jackson
"Wanna Be Startin' Somethin'" Usher
Mýa
Deborah Cox

"Ben" Billy Gilman
"Home" - The Wiz
not televised
Monica as Dorothy
"Ease on Down the Road" - The Wiz
not televised
Monica as Dorothy
Jill Scott as the Scarecrow
Al Jarreau as The Tin Man
Deborah Cox as the Cowardly Lion


"You Are Not Alone"
"Never, Never Land" not televised
Liza Minelli
Speech
not televised
Elizabeth Taylor
"Get Ur Freak On" Missy Elliott
Nelly Furtado
"Man in the Mirror" Usher
Luther Vandross
98 Degrees

"I Want Candy" Aaron Carter
"I Will Survive" Gloria Gaynor
"I'll Never Love This Way Again" Dionne Warwick
"Midnight Train to Georgia" Gladys Knight
"I Do (Cherish You)" 98 Degrees
"My Baby"
"I Want You Back"
Romeo
Master P
"Can You Feel It"
"I Want You Back"
"Shake Your Body "
"ABC"
"The Love You Save"
"I'll Be There"
"Dancing Machine"





The Jacksons
"The Way You Make Me Feel"
"Billie Jean"
Michael Jackson
"Black or White"
"Beat It"
Michael Jackson
Slash
"You Rock My World"

Michael Jackson
Usher
Chris Tucker



References




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