© 2005-2010 Julien Gregg
All Rights Reserved
"All right, now what I want to see is lots children, playing in this parking lot," said Michael Morgan, the director who was shooting Skyler's video for Toy Soldiers.
It was six in the morning, and Skyler was waiting in his trailer. Michael had wanted him in his make-up from the movie for this video, but Skyler had refused. He said that with flashes from scenes already filmed for the movie inside the video, he didn't need to be in his character make-up. That was just one of the things that Skyler and Michael had argued over. Skyler couldn't wait for this shoot to be over, so he didn't have to put up with Michael Morgan ever again.
There was a group of children on the set ranging from the ages of six to twelve, and Michael had been barking at them since the sun came up. He'd had them all dressed in colorful clothing, and there were jump ropes, big red kick balls and other props for the children to "play" with. Skyler didn't know what Sonny had told Michael he wanted for this video, but Skyler was beginning to think that letting Sonny come up with the basis for the video was a mistake. He was glad that he'd decided against a video for Another Lucky Star.
At seven-thirty, Michael barked for Skyler to join them on the set. He then proceeded to put Skyler in all sorts of different poses that he didn't like. It took only twenty minutes for Skyler to refuse to do what Michael wanted, and then they were practically screaming at each other.
"You know," said Michael, "I'm getting so sick of working with big-headed celebrities who don't know more than how to sing words written on a piece of paper by someone with a brain and then telling me how to direct!"
"Let me tell you something, Michael," snapped Skyler. "I didn't want you on this shoot! And those words written on a piece of paper by someone with a brain happened to have been written by me! So why don't you just pack up all of your stupid little kid toys and get the fuck off my video set!"
Michael was an older man with very thick gray hair and a big nose. He glared at Skyler for what seemed an eternity with his eyes the size of saucers before he absolutely blew his top, screaming about insane celebrities and not having to work under "these" conditions. Skyler watched him storm off to his truck and drive away, leaving everyone and everything behind to watch his truck quickly disappear down the crowded New York street.
Two hours later, after having arranged for someone to pick up the children, apologizing to everyone on the set and supervising the clean up of all of the equipment and props, Skyler sat in Sonny's office in the Time-Warner building, waiting for Sonny to come in and scream at him for driving Michael off the set of his video.
Skyler had planned what to say to Sonny about what had happened on the way over from the video set. He would simply have to make him understand that he just couldn't work with Michael Morgan, and that was all there was to it. Skyler would come up with his own "vision" for the video and Sonny could direct it for all he cared. He knew that he was never going to let anyone talk to him the way Michael had, and Sonny already knew that Skyler would only put up with so much from a director who was too high on himself for his own good.
"I just got off the telephone with Michael Morgan," said Sonny as he walked in the room. He sat behind his desk and actually smiled at Skyler. "The man is ready to have a break down over whatever it was that you said to him today, Sky."
"Sonny, the man is insane," said Skyler quickly. "He barked at everyone and then accused me of being some stupid singer who only knew how to sing words written on a piece of paper by someone with a brain. I won't work with him, Sonny."
Sonny threw his head back and laughed heartily. Skyler didn't know what to think about that. It took nearly ten minutes for Sonny to gain composure of himself and look Skyler in the eye again. Even then he couldn't say anything, because every time he tried to be serious, he was taken by stitches of laughter again. Skyler was very confused.
"Sky," Sonny said when he finally got hold of himself, "you have got to be one of the most talented people that I know, and for Michael to have insulted you like that . . ." He started to laugh again. "I can just see the look on your face when he said that."
"You think this is funny?" asked Skyler. He couldn't believe it.
"No, I don't think what he said to you is funny," replied Sonny. "I think that the whole thing is funny. I'm sorry for subjecting you to Michael Morgan, Sky. I owed the man a favor, and I shouldn't have used your video to repay it. It was an error on my part, and I'm sincerely apologizing for it."
"Look," sighed Skyler, "this video has to be shot, but I won't work with Michael again. Why don't you shoot the video on the movie set? The song is about the movie anyway. If you want the kids in the video, that's fine. Just move everyone back to the studio sets and film the video there."
"That's actually a very good idea, Skyler," said Sonny. "We're going to be using clips from the movie in the video anyway, so it probably should be filmed on the studio set. Why don't you take today off while I get everything worked out, and we'll shoot in the morning before we start shooting more scenes?"
Skyler found himself having breakfast with Clay Silver and Laura Ullman an hour later in Jay Bartlett's office at Maverick. They were discussing musicians for Skyler's second album. He'd told Clay and Laura that he was finally ready to go back into the studio the night before, and Clay had been thrilled. Now they had to scramble to get musicians together.
"You say that William is going to be working with you on this album?" asked Jay, the man inside Maverick that was now the only one who could handle Skyler's music, other than Madonna herself. He was in his thirties with dark hair and icy-blue eyes. He was always impeccably dressed in a business suit, and his body was tight and compact. Skyler often found himself wondering what that body looked like without the suit. Unfortunately, Jay was happily married with two children.
"Yes," he replied. "William said to give him a call when we're sure about all of the musicians and artists that will work on the album. He's ready when we are."
"It'll take time to get everyone together, Sky," said Clay. "Some of these guys are still working on other projects. How soon did you want to start recording?"
"As soon as I can," replied Skyler. "It doesn't have to be tomorrow, but I'd like to get in the studio soon. I'm still shooting on the set, but that won't last much longer. Sonny says I'm running out of scenes. That'll free me up to work on the album, and I want to be busy with it by the time that shooting ends."
"We heard about your video set fiasco this morning, Sky," said Laura.
"That has all been taken care of," replied Skyler. "Sonny's going to direct the video on the movie set, and we'll start that some time tomorrow morning."
"But the video will be shot," said Jay.
"Oh, definitely," assured Skyler. "It'll be a much better video with Sonny directing, anyway."
"How many songs do you have for the album, Sky?" asked Clay, changing subjects again. Skyler had to really pay attention when he was with these three. They each had very different ideas about what was important.
"I have enough songs for two albums right now," admitted Skyler. "I was thinking about recording a ballads album a little later. Right now, though, I want to concentrate on some of the dance tracks I've written, and the ones I think will be dance tracks."
"A ballads album would be a good idea," said Jay. "Your ballads really sell as singles, Skyler."
"I've been watching the charts," said Skyler. "I'm pretty proud of what's happening with my music, but I need to have new music out there. I've got that with the two singles from the movie, but I need another album."
"We'll get you into the studio," assured Clay. "I've been really anxious to get you working on an album since I signed you. Don't worry too much about getting things ready. I'll do my job. You just make sure you don't over-work your throat when it comes time to record."
Skyler had told Clay all about his throat problems with the first album, and Clay had made him promise to tell him if his throat began to hurt when they finally starting recording his second album. Laura had insisted that Skyler see a physician about his throat, but the doctor had said there was nothing wrong with his throat. Skyler thought that Barry had just pushed too hard.
"Well, Skyler, I have all of the contact information for the musicians that you want to work with," said Jay. "I'll make some calls this morning and see about rounding them all up. Why don't we shoot for having you in the studio by mid-month?"
"That sounds good," nodded Skyler. "I'll tell Sonny."
A little over two weeks later, Skyler was back in the studio recording his second album. Problems started from the very beginning. Musicians didn't show up for scheduled sessions, tapes were faulty, and the sound systems shorted twice. Skyler was beginning to think, by the third day of problems, that the album would never get recorded. William and Clay were beside themselves. Jackson Price, the man that Madonna had found to help with three tracks, had yet to arrive from England, and Skyler developed laryngitis for six days. That stopped the album cold, but seemed to work out perfect for the movie.
At the end of the month, Skyler sat in the studio with William, Clay, Jackson and three of the musicians, watching the video for Toy Soldiers on MTV. Skyler had two songs recorded, and he was never so unhappy about recording sessions in his life. Around the studio, Skyler's album was nicknamed "mission impossible". Skyler laughed at the nickname, but after the third week of problems, he decided that if the album was ever finished, that would be its title. He even wrote a song about the problems and called it Mission Impossible.
He was interviewed by Kurt Loder for MTV, and only after the interview did Kurt tell him that MTV was naming him their artist of the month. He told Skyler that the interview, along with several filmed moments of his recording sessions (luckily, the session for the two songs that were actually recorded with minimal problems), moments on the movie set and a few other things would all make it into a special that MTV was putting together. On the first of June, Skyler sat at home with Chad watching Skyler Thomas: Shining Star on MTV.
Filming for the movie ended almost a week later, and Sonny threw a huge party at the Hilton. Skyler had a great time, and he was actually in a great mood when he went into the studio the next morning to record. The day went by without a single hitch, and four songs were recorded, bring the tally for songs that could possibly make the album up to six.
Chad recorded his first video for his cover of an Allan O'Day song, Undercover Angel in the same studio sets that Skyler had just finished filming the movie in. The finished product was great, and Chad gushed about it all the way to California where Skyler met Chris Cunningham for the first time in the Mojave Desert. Chris was different from anyone Skyler had encountered. He had long dark hair and very dark eyes. The man had a unique way of speaking, and Skyler liked him immediately. He had long talks with Chris about what he wanted for the video, and Chris had a bunch of ideas of his own after listening to the song. Skyler loved his ideas, and the two of them had a great time. For six days, they filmed in the swealtering heat, and Skyler returned to New York with the finished video for Desert Rose, the first guaranteed single from his album in hand.
When Clay saw the finished version of the video, he was thrilled. The song itself was what Skyler was most proud of. He'd acheived the exact sound he'd been trying for, and everything had worked out perfectly. He was so proud of the song that he had insisted that it be his first single of his disaster of an album. Clay and Jay wouldn't even put up a fight.
The video aired on MTV, VH1, MuchMusic and MusicM on the first day of July, and Skyler and Chad were on their way to Denver to spend time with their father and brother and sister. When they arrived in Denver, fans packed the airport, screaming for Skyler. They were ushered through Airport Security along with Brent and Eric, and they sped away quickly in Ben's SUV.
"That was intense," said Chad. "I'm glad they were screaming for you and not me."
"Give it time, little brother," sighed Skyler. "With the new video out and all of the exposure on MTV, it was bound to happen. I just didn't think."
"We made it out all right," said Eric, Chad's new security man. He was tall and lean with a carefully sculpted physique. His dark hair and quick smile made him an accepted addition to the "family".
"Skyler, I have all that information you asked me to get for you," said Ben as they drove through Denver. "The band is already here, and they guys at the stadium say its a sure thing."
"What is he talking about?" asked Chad.
Skyler had called Coors Stadium to set up a small concert that he hoped would be a surprise to everyone. So far, no one had leaked the information to the press, and only MTV knew about it. They were supposed to set up cameras to hold a cyber-cast of the concert on their website. Skyler hoped that everything went off without a hitch. He'd gained permission from Madonna to sing one of her songs as an openning for Get Up, a song on his new album, and he'd chosen four songs to sing at the All-Star game.
Clay, and Maverick were thrilled with the idea, because it amounted to free publicity for the album. Free for them, perhaps, but it was costing Skyler quite a bit of money to put on the show. He'd had to pay for equipment, an easily set up stage that could be torn back down quickly and yet withstand lots of abuse as he danced across the stage with all of the musicians and equipment on it, lights and several other odds and ends that he'd known nothing about that were essential to a stage performance.
"I'm having a little concert right before the All-Star game on the fourth," announced Skyler. "I want you, Cassie and Jason to dance with me."
"What?" cried Chad. "You want me to dance with you?"
"Why not?" asked Skyler, turning to face his brother in the back seat. "You're going to be singing and dancing to your own music pretty soon. Why not get a little pre-fame exposure?"
"But you're dance moves are all really complicated," said Chad. "How will I learn them all?"
"First of all, those aren't my moves," said Skyler. "Those were Anton's, and he isn't choreographing this little event, I am. I know what I want the show to be like, and the four of us will practice before we get out there. Come on, Chad, it'll be fun."
"Jason and Cassie are excited about it," informed Ben. "They've been talking about it all day."
"We only have three days to practice, so we'll have to start tonight," said Skyler. "What do you say, Chad?"
"I'm in," Chad said with a huge grin. "This is going to be great!"
Tabitha had lunch ready for them when they got to the house. Skyler was impressed with the house that his father had built for his family to live in. It was two stories tall with four bedrooms and a full attic that had been converted into two rooms. Ben said that he was going to use the rooms for storage, but with Eric and Brent coming, he'd gone and bought two beds to put up there.
The outside of the hosue looked like a log cabin with a black slate roof, and the lawn was perfectly landscaped and manicured. Skyler really liked the house. He was admiring it when Cassie came running through the front door and tackled him.
"SKY!" she cried as they tumbled to the ground. "I'm so happy to see you!"
"Hey! What about me?" laughed Chad as he hopped on top of them.
The three siblings rolled around on the ground, talking and giggling as Skyler tickled his brother and sister. He was so happy to see Cassie, and it felt like she'd been gone for seven years. He had so much to fill her in on, and he couldn't wait for her to see the new apartment. As the trio breaks up and brushes grass off their clothes, Skyler tells Cassie about the apartment and informs her that her room is waiting to be docorated and furnished.
Jason stood on the porch, watching his brothers and sister for a few minutes. He wondered if he would ever get to be that close with them. He'd wanted to meet them almost all of his life, and now that he finally had he felt like he was an outsider. Sure, Skyler was including him in his concert on Independance Day, but he really believed that Skyler felt that he had to.
Skyler saw his little brother watching them, and he disentangled himself from his other two siblings. Standing up to brush himself off he said, "I see you, Jason. Get your little butt over here!"
Jason's eyes grew wide as Skyler launched himself forward and charged through the front yard to the porch, where he lifted Jason off of his feet and carried him back to where Chad and Cassie were sitting cross-legged on the grass. Skyler handed Jason to Chad, who promptly wrapped his arms around him and wrestled him to the ground. Before Jason knew what to think, Skyler and Cassie were back in the mix, and they were all wrestling on the grass.
Brent and Eric put a stop to the fun when both men called for their respective celebrity. Chad and Skyler stood up and looked at their security, but the first thing that Skyler noticed were the people standing in the street. There were more coming up the sidewalk on both sides of the yard. He didn't like the way it was starting to look.
"Hey, Ben," said an older man with a white ball cap pulled over longish gray hair. He was wearing a pair of tan pants and a blue shirt. "That your other boys there?"
"It sure is, Dave," said Ben, discretely waving his hand to call off Brent who was advancing toward him as Dave Sumner came closer. "The bigger one is Skyler and the other is Chad." He turned to face his sons. "Boys, come meet my boss.
Skyler and Chad walked over to their father where Dave Sumner was standing close by. Skyler reached out and shook Dave's hand first. He never really stopped paying attention to how many people were coming to the front of the yard, and he could see Brent and Eric flanking him in his periferal vision. He didn't want the scene to become ugly, but he didn't want to offend the people, either.
"Its nice to meet you, Skyler," said Dave. "Your father talks about you boys all of the time."
"Its very nice to meet you, Mr. Sumner," said Skyler.
"Oh, call me 'Dave'." He looked at Chad and reached to shake his hand. "Chad, its nice to meet you as well. We just saw your video on television."
"Nice to meet you," said Chad, shaking Dave's hand.
"Folks, I'm sure Sky and Chad appreciate that you've all come around to see them," said Ben, turning to the growing crowd. "If you'd all please return to your homes, I'm sure you'll have a chance to talk to Skyler and Chad later. They'll be here for the rest of the month."
Skyler was shocked to see most of the people turn and walk away, casting only a few backward glances as they went. Others were more reluctant, but as Brent and Eric stepped closer to Skyler and Chad, they turned and left, too. After they were gone, Ben suggested moving everyone into the house. He invited Dave to stay and talk, but Dave declined, saying he really only wanted to meet the boys.
"They just got here, Ben," said Dave. "You go on inside and spend some time with your boys. As you said, they'll be here all month."
"I had no idea that anyone would walk up to the yard," said Ben when they were all seated around the kitchen table. "I knew Dave would probably come over, but I didn't expect the entire neighborhood."
"They'll tell friends, and the word will spread that Skyler and Chad are staying here," warned Eric.
"Well, we are staying here," said Skyler. "I'm not moving into a hotel for a month just because people might try to see me here. I came to spend some time with my family, and I'm going to do that. They'll get used to us being here before too long."
"I agree with Skyler," said Chad when Eric looked at him. "I came to see my family."
They settled down and ate the lunch that Tabitha had prepared for them and talked more about the concert on the fourth. Eric clearly didn't look happy about the boys staying in the house instead of a hotel, but Skyler tried not to pay any attention. Brent seemed fine with it, and Skyler trusted Brent completely. He was sure that there wouldn't be any problems while they were there.
After lunch, Skyler and Chad were shown to the extra bedrooms in the attick to unpack, and then they sat in the spacious living room to talk. They talked about the things that Cassie had done since she arrived in Denver. For one thing, her tutor had finished her classes early and gone only three weeks after she'd arrived. She'd also decided that Jason had to come and stay with them in New York soon. Skyler sighed inwardly with relief at hearing that last. He'd been so worried that Cassie would want to remain in Denver only to find out that the thought, evidently, hadn't crossed her mind.
They also talked about the twins' upcoming birthday. August was only a month away, and thought they shared the same birthday as Madonna, they both wanted Ben, Tabitha and Jason to celebrate with them. Skyler pointed out that it was unlikely that Madonna would be in New York for her birthday, and he told his father that plans needed to be made to have the entire family in New York for the sixteenth of August.
Later, after they'd all had supper, Tabitha sat with Ben on the back porch to watch Jason practice the dance moves with Skyler, Chad and Cassie. She smiled at them and thought about how wonderful it was to have all of them together finally. She'd been so happy for Ben when he and Skyler reunited, and she was thrilled to learn that the twins really were her step-children. She'd come to love Cassie like a daughter while she'd been visiting, and she hoped that Skyler and Chad would visit more often.
Jason seemed excited to be included in the show that Skyler had planned for the all-star game, and Tabitha wanted to kiss him for including Jason and making him really feel like one of them. Jason had admitted to her that he really felt like an outsider when it came to Skyler and the twins. Having Cassie around for the time that she'd been in Denver had helped, but when Skyler and Chad's arrival got closer, Jason started to worry about how they would accept him again. Tabitha hoped that this would asauge the boy's fears.
They practiced until it was well after dark, and they kept laughing when any one of them would make a mistake. Chad seemed to laugh a lot more when it was Skyler making a mistake. Skyler reminded them several times that, though he wanted to show to be a success, he really wanted them all to have fun. He even surprised Chad when he told him that the band had already been practicing the song line up for over a week, and one of Chad's songs, Undercover Angel, was part of that line up. Chad was more than excited to hear that he would be singing his own song on stage.
Tabitha and Ben had seen Skyler's concert DVD, and they'd seem him on the talk shows, but this would be their first time seeing him perform live. They were both very excited about the upcoming show. The fact that it had remained secret for so long made it even more exciting. They hoped that the baseball fans wouldn't be too upset when the game didn't start exactly when it was scheduled. They'd been told that the show would start as soon as the game was scheduled to begin, and the stage would have to be torn down along with the four huge screens that would be erected above the stage to let spectators on each side of the stage see the show. Skyler had thought of everything from visual aspects to lighting. The dance moves that he was teaching his brothers and sister were very good, too. Tabitha and Ben believed that they were in for a great show.
The Concert Chapter Links Are Below At The Bottom. To Read This Concert, Click Concert 2.
The next chapter will be posted soon.