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 Michael Jackson, the Snake, the Mouse -- and a Lesson in Drama

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Michael Jackson, the Snake, the Mouse -- and a Lesson in Drama Empty
PostSubject: Michael Jackson, the Snake, the Mouse -- and a Lesson in Drama   Michael Jackson, the Snake, the Mouse -- and a Lesson in Drama Icon_minitimeWed May 09, 2012 9:34 am

Once you’ve got your hero, what gets the emotion moving? What holds us spellbound, begging for more? Michael Jackson taught me in no uncertain terms, the answer is drama.
Back in 1991, Michael Jackson already was a force to be reckoned with. After renewing his contract with Sony for a record-setting $65 million, he released his eighth album, "Dangerous¸" with the singles “Black or White” and “Remember the Time,” both of which dominated the pop charts. As CEO of Sony Pictures, I’d sat in on the studio production of that album and was overwhelmed by Michael’s creative intensity and perfectionism.
His ambition knew no bounds. But when Sony’s most important musical asset invited me to his home in Encino to discuss his plans to get into movies and television, I was taken aback. Michael had proven he knew everything there was to know about pop music, but movies were a different animal. He wanted to produce as well as act. That meant telling stories. Could he do it?
I didn’t even have to ask the question. “In both films and music,” Michael said, “you have to know where the drama is and how to present it.” He gave me a long, intense stare and abruptly stood up. “Let me show you.”
He led me upstairs to the hallway outside his bedroom, where we stopped in front of a huge glass terrarium. “This,” he said, “is Muscles.”
Inside, a massive snake was coiled around a tree branch. His head was tracking something in the opposite corner of the terrarium.
Michael pointed with his finger at the object of Muscles’ obsession. A little white mouse was trying to hide behind a pile of wood shavings.
I said hopefully, “Are they friends?”
“Do they look it?”
“No. The mouse is trembling.”
Michael said, “We have to feed Muscles live mice, otherwise he won’t eat. Dead ones don’t get his attention.”
“So why doesn’t he just go ahead and eat it?”
He said, “Because he enjoys the game. First he uses fear to get the mouse’s attention, then he waits, building tension. Finally, when the mouse is so terrified it can’t move, Muscles will close in.”
That snake had the attention of that mouse, and that mouse had the attention of that snake -- and Michael Jackson had my attention.
“That’s drama,” he said.
“It sure is!” I said. “This story has everything -- stakes, suspense, power, death, good and evil, innocence and danger. I can’t stand it. And I can’t stop watching.”
“Exactly,” he said. “What’s going to happen next? Even if you know what it is, you don’t know how or when.”
“Maybe the mouse will escape.”
Michael let out one of his high, strange laughs. “Maybe.”
If I’d had the slightest doubt about Jackson’s command as a teller of stories, it evaporated that day. His telling to win profoundly and clearly taught me that nothing grabs our attention faster than the need to know what happens next?

Excerpted from "Tell To Win: Connect, Persuade, and Triumph with the Hidden Power of Story," by Peter Guber (Crown Business).
Source - thewrap.com

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