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2009/08/29: Ribbon Cutting Event

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At a special media event in Hollywood, California, Artist David Ilan cuts the ribbon and draws the first dots in The Michael Jackson Tribute Portrait, the largest tribute in the world! The first dot was drawn for Michael and was located in the area of his heart. The next three dots were drawn for Michael's children.

Special Guests included Michael's friends and those who worked with him. They were honored at the event by having their dot drawn next to Michael's. Each celebrated guest spoke about their personal relationship with Michael, shared their fondest memories and talked about why this tribute is so special.


(All photos, except those marked with an asterisk (*), were taken by Italian photographer Stefania Rosini. She has taken photos of every celebrity under the sun and we thank her for coming to our event. You can see her work here.)


Gary Owens, Master of Ceremonies for The Michael Jackson Tribute Portrait ribbon cutting ceremony. Gary is one of America’s most recognizable disc jockey and voice actors. His trademark baritone speaking voice generally offers deadpan recitations of total nonsense, which he frequently demonstrated as the announcer on Rowan and Martin's "Laugh-In." He is seen here sharing stories of his experiences with Michael.
Gary was inducted into the Radio Hall of Fame in 1994.




 Artist David Ilan speaks to the audience about the portrait
and explains how each dot represents a Michael Jackson fan.


 David cuts the ribbon, officially starting the largest Michael Jackson Tribute in the world.


David Ilan places the first dot on the canvas for Michael! The worldwide Tribute begins.



 Don Wilson, Director / Producer of the “Man in the Mirror” video
shares his experiences with Michael with the audience before receiving his dot.


Gina Starbuck (left) and Bijan Rythmik Williams (right) are dancers at EDGE Performing Arts Studio. They are honored at the event to represent all dancers throughout the world who were influenced by Michael Jackson. They were introduced by Elizabeth Barry (center), who is the founder of gendance.


Randy Allaire, Principal Director, EDGE Performing Arts Studio, the exclusive dance studio that hosted the Ribbon Cutting Ceremony for The Michael Jackson Tribute Portrait. Randy was one of Michael’s featured dancers on several concert tours, including “Bad." He is seen here sharing amazing stories of touring with Michael.


Nijel ( speaks about Michael before he receives his dot in the portrait. Nijel is the renowned sculptor who designed the Artist of the Decade award that was presented to Michael by Sony. (As a martial arts expert, at one point, Nijel was also a bodyguard for Michael.)*



Azja Pryor, friend of Michael Jackson.
Azja had spent a lot of time at the Neverland Ranch
with her boyfriend at the time, actor Chris Tucker.


Sheila Berthelsen (Mrs. West Houston America, 2009), was at the Ribbon Cutting Ceremony as the U.S. Representative of The Magical Child Fan Club (Belgium and The Netherlands). She was representing
fan clubs around the world at this event.*


Blake Plash (age 15) representing Allan ("Big Al") Scanlon. Over a 15-year period from 1990 to 2005, Michael Jackson operated a personal amusement park on his Neverland ranch. Big Al was in charge of the rides and oversaw the Neverland grounds and attractions (theatre, rides, train). He became a close personal friend of Michael’s. Big Al, who could not attend the ribbon cutting event for Michael’s Tribute Portrait, sent a 15-year-old family friend in his place, Blake Plash. Blake spent time at Neverland with Big Al and is one of Michael’s biggest fans. Blake comes with a letter from Big Al to share at this occasion and is seen here wearing one of Michael's favorite hats, given to him by Big Al.


Riana Cercero, Miss Jr. National Teenager 2009, came to represent
the new generation of Michael Jackson fans.*


After the event, David is interviewed by members of the media.
He is seen here speaking with a reporter from CBS.*


Volunteers came from far and wide to help with the event. Left, Elizabeth Barry of Elizabeth Barry & Associates and gendance, a partner of The Michael Jackson Tribute Portrait, came from New Jersey. Kimberly Michele Durham, Tribute Director of Strategic Partnerships & Marketing, flew in from North Carolina. Jo-Ann L'Esperance, Tribute volunteer, came from Rhode Island.


 Valerie, MJTP team member, takes a time out with Don Wilson.*

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