Sunday, July 6, 2014

Interview with Bill Whitfield and Javon Beard, Former Bodyguards to Michael Jackson and Authors of Remember the Time + Giveaway! (US only)

I'd like to welcome Bill Whitfield and Javon Beard to the blog today to celebrate the publication of their book from Weinstein Books, Remember the Time. Bill and Javon were Michael Jackson's bodyguards in his last years, and they wrote this book in tribute to the King of Pop as a man and legend, not just as a media story. It's an exciting day to have these authors over at the blog today, so let's get started!

Will you please share a brief introduction with us?

Experts in the field of private protection, Bill Whitfield and Javon Beard served for two and a half years as the personal security team for Michael Jackson and have worked with numerous other high-profile clients, including Sean “P. Diddy” Combs, Alicia Keys, and Shaquille O’Neal.

Remember the Time is their first book.

Readers, here's a bit about this new book, which was published last month:

Michael Jackson's former bodyguards reveal the amazing truths of the late superstar's last years—his life in seclusion with his children, his financial crises, his preparations for the This Is It tour, and the weeks leading up to his shocking death.

Hounded by the tabloid media, driven from his self-made sanctuary at Neverland, Michael Jackson spent his final years moving from city to city, living with his three children in virtual seclusion-a futile attempt to escape a world that wouldn't leave him alone. During that time, two men served as the singer's personal security team: Bill Whitfield, a former cop and veteran of the security profession, and Javon Beard, a brash, untested rookie, both single fathers themselves.

Stationed at his side nearly 24/7, their job was to see and hear everything that transpired, and to keep everyone else out, making them the only two men who know what 60 million fans around the world still want to know: What really happened to the King of Pop?

Driven by a desire to show the world who Michael Jackson truly was, Whitfield and Beard have produced the only definitive, first-person account of Michael Jackson's last years: the extreme measures necessary to protect Jackson and his family, the simple moments of happiness they managed to share in a time of great stress, the special relationship Jackson shared with his fans, and the tragic events that culminated in the singer's ill-fated comeback, This Is It. The truth is far more compelling than anything you've yet heard.

An indispensable piece of pop-culture history, Remember the Time is the story of a man struggling to live a normal life under extraordinary circumstances, the story of a father fighting to protect and provide for his children. Remember the Time is the book that dismantles the tabloid myths once and for all to give Michael Jackson back his humanity.
Buy the book from: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Book Depository | Books-A-Million | iTunes | Kobo | Google PlayPublisher

Describe the Remember the Time in six words (or less!).

The truth about Michael Jackson.

What was the inspiration for the book?

The catalyst for the book came in the months after Michael Jackson passed away in June of 2009. The media coverage of his death perpetuated a lot of rumors and speculation that completely distorted the truth about the good and decent man we had worked for. We felt that we had a responsibility to share our truth with the world.

Can you share with us one of your most memorable—or funniest—experiences working with the King of Pop?

We got lost while we were driving Mr. Jackson, his nanny Grace, and his three kids around Middleburg, Virginia. We were so lost that the area we were in didn't even show up on the GPS. We were trying to find the main road with no luck, and we just kept going in deeper into the backwoods of Virginia. We saw three men working on a car, and Bill decided to ask them for directions back to the main road. The look of these guys made Grace nervous and before Bill got out of the car, she blurted out, "I hope they don't try to kidnap us." At that moment Mr Jackson said "I wish they would try something, because if anybody tries to hurt my kids I'll get out of this car and tear them up!" For a moment I wished they would try something because I wanted to see him in action.

What's something about Michael Jackson that most people don't or didn't know?

That he was a real human being, a man and a father, not just the icon portrayed in the media.

As a huge fan of first lines, I’d love to hear the first line of The Stories We Tell. Could you give us a brief commentary on it?
You would not be reading this if Michael Jackson was still alive.
Mr. Jackson was hugely protective of his own privacy and his children's privacy, and we were the protectors of that privacy when he was alive. However, since he was killed and robbed of the chance to tell his own story, we had to make a choice about what to do with the information he had. We want to honor his privacy, but the only way to counter all the false information about Mr. Jackson's personal life is to tell the truth about his personal life, which required some disclosure. It was a tricky line to walk. However, we ultimately decided that this book would bring closure and comfort to the fans who wanted to know more about him.

Tell us about your road to publication, such as how you first queried, unexpected challenges, and things you picked up along the way.

The road to publication was difficult, and way too long to recount here. We had to fend off tabloid sharks trying to get us to spill dirt, and we turned down significant cash offers from them. At the same time, many Michael Jackson books have flopped because all they did was rehash old information that people are not interested in. Which meant that mainstream publishers were wary of another MJ book, especially one that didn't promise to dish a lot of scandalous dirt. We shopped for many months before we ultimately found two houses, Weinstein Books in the US, and Knopf Canada who were willing to go along with our vision: to draw a humble, intimate portrait of this superstar.

What was the goal of getting this book published? Was there anything in particular you wanted to achieve?

The goal was to change the way Michael Jackson is perceived, especially in the U.S. media. Even thought people love his music, thanks to the false allegations against him (of which he was acquitted at trial) and thanks to the incessant sensationalistic reporting on his "eccentricities," the man's personal life has been turned into a caricature. But Michael Jackson was a real, three-dimensional human being, a caring man who adored his three children and who suffered great loneliness and sadness. He deserves to have his humanity taken as seriously as his music.

What’s the greatest thing you ever learned?

No matter how busy you are, you should never be too busy that you put your trust in anybody to manage and or control the important things in your life, like your finances.

How do you react to a negative or harsh review to the book?

We haven't had many negative reviews, fortunately, and most all of the negative commentary we have seen is from people who haven't read the book, so it's been easy to dismiss. The legitimate criticisms that have come our way are all things that we were aware of going in. We weren't there the night Michael died, so we can comment on that directly and some reviewers felt that was a bit of an anticlimax. We knew people might feel that way. For the most part, we're happy to have criticism and debate that takes the book on its merits. If we're driving the conversation, that's good.

What are you involved in when you aren’t writing?

This is our first, last, and only book. We both still work in the field of private security with a number of high-profile celebrities, executives, and VIPs.

Out of all the fantastic books out there, what makes Remember the Time stand out from the rest?

It's one of a kind, at least as far as Michael Jackson books go. Mr. Jackson's biography has suffered at the hands of writers because there is so much secondhand rumor and innuendo to sort through, and also because he was so private and had so few close friends; few people can really serve as reliable eye-witnesses. We had the privilege of serving Mr. Jackson at a unique time when for months it was just him and his kids and us, with no one else around, making our story unlike anything that's out there.

What’s the most interesting comment you have ever received about your books?

For those that consider themselves life long fans of Mr. Jackson, after reading the book they said it made them not only know him as a person but they felt it brought them closer to him.

What is the message in Remember the Time that you want readers to grasp?

That Michael Jackson was a good man and a caring father and a devoted humanitarian. That he was not the man you read about in the tabloids. That his "eccentric" behavior is really just the result of a life that's very different from yours or mine. 

What's next for you?

We have no plans where Mr. Jackson is concerned. Writing this book has brought us closure. We set out to share our story and have now done so.

Where can you be found on the web?

Before we conclude this interview, is there anything you'd like to ask our readers?

What is your favorite Michael Jackson song and what personal memory do you associate with it?

It was an absolute pleasure to be able to get to know you better today, gentlemen! Thank you again for dropping by, and best of luck with future endeavors!


Books à la Mode is giving away
 a print copy of Remember the Time
—woohoo! To enter, all you have to do is answer Bill and Javon's question:
What is your favorite Michael Jackson song and what personal memory do you associate with it?
Please make your comment MEANINGFUL. Comments solely consisting of stock responses or irrelevant fluff like "Thanks for the giveaway!" will not be considered for entry. The authors and I really want to hear your thoughts! :)

Don't forget the entry eligibility terms and conditions!
Sponsored wholly by the publicist—a huge thank you to FSB Media!
Giveaway ends July 20th at 11.59 PM (your time).
Open to US residents only. Sorry, everyone else! Please check my sidebar on the right for a list of currently running giveaways that are open worldwide—there are plenty to choose from!
Void where prohibited.
Winners have 48 hours to claim their prize once they are chosen, or else their winnings will be forfeited.
Although I do randomly select winners, I am in no way responsible for prizes, nor for shipping and handling.
As a reminder, you do not have to follow my blog to enter, though it is always very much appreciated ❤
Good luck!