© 2005-2010 Julien Gregg
All Rights Reserved
"Tonight, on 'Behind The Music' we take a look at the shining career of Skyler Thomas," said the announcer's voice on VH1 as the family watched from the waiting room at the hospital. "We'll take a look at where it all began and just how Skyler Thomas became so dear to the hearts of so many so quickly. Join us for 'Behind The Music: Skyler Thomas'. And after the broadcast see, for the first time anywhere, the brand new video for Skyler Thomas and AJ McLean's 'Precious'."
"Skyler Matthew Thomas was born in Flint, Michigan, February 14, 1979. He is the oldest of four children," said the narrator as pictures of the house that Ben, Claire, Skyler and the twins had lived in so long ago. "His father, Benjamin Thomas was a local construction contractor while his mother, Claire, was a stay at home mom. His younger brother, Chadwin, and sister, Cassandra, were born just three years later."
The scene changed to a living room in Detroit, Michigan where an elderly woman that Ben recognized as one of the neighbors who lived across the street from their house talked about the children.
"They were beautiful children," said Mary O'Brien. "Little Skyler was always happy and laughing, and when the twins were old enough to play outside with him, he was always looking after them. He was such a little man."
The scene changed again to a local church with Claire and Chuck standing in front of the church in their wedding clothes, posing for pictures with six year old Skyler and the three year old twins. Claire held Cassie while Chuck held Chad. Skyler stood in front of them. Ben noticed that the happy look in Skyler's eyes was gone in that picture. He wondered where they'd gotten all of this.
"In 1984 Skyler's parents divorced. Just a year later, Skyler's mother, Claire, married another local construction contractor named Charles "Chuck" O'Malley," said the narrator. More pictures of the wedding day slowly appeared on the screen as Ben watched through tears.
"Oh sure," said an older man whose name was placed on the bottom of the screen. He was apparently Walt Danvers from the elementary school. "Skyler was in the first grade here when we all noticed a change in him."
The story went on to talk about the abuse that the Thomas siblings endured at the hands of their step-father and neglectful mother. Ben listened to the same teachers that he'd seen in court when his children had faced their mother and step-father in Detroit talking about different times they'd tried to stop what was happening. Ben grew more and more agitated as he watched.
He was thankful when the scene switched to East Detroit High School. Different teachers talked about the sports that Skyler had been involved in as well as his work on the school's productions.
"He performed on this stage as a young teenager," said a smiling woman who looked like a grandmother. Her name was Irene Chilton. "There were three plays while Skyler was here, and he was involved in all three. The last saw him as the leading man. He was so magnetic on the stage even then."
There was a video recording of Skyler standing on stage with three other boys signing something about labor. It made Ben smile as more tears ran down his face. He cursed Claire again for robbing him of his right as a father to share in experiences like this one in Skyler's life, and he let out a sob as he saw Skyler standing with another boy his age in their cap and gowns to graduate.
"Skyler graduated from East Detroit High School in 1996," said the narrator. "He was loved by his classmates and teachers and many were sad to see him go." The scene switched to a wide shot of California State University. "Skyler majored in Finance here at California State. He was in his second year when Milton Drake, casting director for NBC's 'Secrets Of The Morning', found him in a diner just blocks from the school's main campus."
"You don't have to worry about me wanting the Cutler money," hissed Skyler on the set of the television show. "I wouldn't want to be one of you for any amount of money!"
"Skyler was an instant success on the show and quickly became the most talked about actor in television," said the narrator. "His cast mates were awed by his professional style and his ability to get through a scene in one take."
"He's amazing!" praised Brian Krause from an interview when they were filming the show together. "First there's this energy that he brings to the set. Then there's the way he helps the veteran actors on the show remember their lines. He's like a living tape recorder!"
"The studio decided to have Skyler's character sing a song on the show," said the narrator as the scene switched to the broadcast of Skyler singing "Alone" on the show. "They asked Skyler if he would be interested in taking a shot at the song. They were quickly shocked by the result."
"Skyler Thomas is the name on everyone's lips today," said a television news reporter. "The prime time soap actor turned pop music sensation caused pandemonium today when he tried to leave his apartment in New York City. A virtual mob of teenaged female fans surrounded him."
"That's right, folks," said an MTV VJ, "you screamed for it, and we've got it for you! Here it is: Skyler Thomas and 'Alone'."
"'Alone' wasn't to be his only touch on the music scene," said the narrator. "To the delight of fans, Skyler's first full length album was announced. When the singles began to show up as videos on MTV and VH1 the world wanted more."
The scene switched to MTV's TRL with girls screaming as Carson Daly announced that "Dizzy" was their number one video. Clips from four of the videos that came from the "Dizzy" album played as more clips of Carson's announcements of Skyler's videos overlapped them. More and more girls screamed at the mention of Skyler's name.
The scene changed again to a "Rosie O'Donnell Show" segment with Skyler sitting in the chair beside Rosie's desk as the audience screamed and cheered. Skyler was blushing as he smiled back at them.
"After his first appearance on the 'Rosie O'Donnell Show' the love affair between Skyler Thomas and the public truly began," said the narrator. "Success was Skyler's it seemed as even Madonna decided to work with him."
"I'd heard his music and the power behind it," said Madonna in an interview from that time. "I was putting together music for my album and decided to give Skyler's people a call. We met for the first time on the set of one his videos and I was amazed by the power of him." A clip from the video for 'Come Back To Me' played as Madonna talked.
"Working with him is like nothing I've ever experienced before," said Diana Coleville, a producer at Maverick Records as the scene changed to a recording session at Maverick Studios in New York. "He always tries to make everyone feel as comfortable as possible. His voice is like velvet but his personality is that of a pure gentleman with a heart of pure gold."
"Skyler proved that his success could help others when he signed on to lend his voice and music to a cause that was important to him," said the narrator as footage from the benefit for The Tobias Clemmons Foundation ran.
"It's like knowing something awful that you can't understand," said Skyler as he stood outside The Platinum Center in Orlando. "Here was a young man who was gifted and kind to everyone. He never did anything to harm another person in his life, yet three other young men with hate in their hearts chose to end his life and rob the world of the pure hearted soul that was Tobias. It sickens and saddens me."
Ben watched as more and more of Skyler's career was talked about and clips from the movie Anger ran on the screen. He cried as he thought that all of this may be over if his son didn't wake up from his coma soon. There was so much he wanted to say to his son and he was terrified that he wouldn't get the chance.
"It's like living in a dream," said Skyler as he looked around the living room of his house in Los Angeles. "After growing up in a two bedroom house on the darker side of Detroit, this is like living in Heaven. I've got my sister and brother just down the hall from me again, and there's nothing to fear in this house. My father, Step-Mother and youngest brother are just in the house behind mine. I tell you it's like I found my Guardian Angel, and he or she was really in the mood to love me."
More and more was talked about and shown as the show neared its conclusion and then a song from the new album began to play as AJ McLean talked to an interviewer about it. AJ was near tears as he discussed the song that he'd sung with Skyler for Greenpeace.
"Working on this song with him was so much fun," said AJ McLean with tears in his eyes. "Skyler wrote most of the lyrics and the music is his. I just helped out and lent my voice. But to hear it now is almost haunting. I'm just so scared that he'll never wake up."
Then the screen showed panned shots of the gates to Skyler's Orlando estate. Flowers and cards with stuffed animals and all sorts of different things were lying at the gates. Fans walked by and paused to look at everything before looking at the camera and wishing Skyler a speedy recovery.
"Every day more flowers, cards and stuffed animals show up at the hospital and in front of the gates to the Thomas Estate. Fans flock from all over the country to pay respect to the sleeping icon," said the narrator's voice as the show wound to a close. "Skyler Thomas truly is America's Prince."
Two days after the broadcast of the "Behind The Music" show, tabloids began to run stories about AJ McLean being Skyler's lover. Ben was furious when he found one of the tabloids in the waiting room. He read the article and then ripped the rag to shreds. AJ showed up later that day to swear that he had nothing to do with any of the articles. Ben assured him that he understood that.
Ben and the rest of the family watched as two days later, the entire Backstreet Boys group sat before a group of reporters to address the tabloid. He was proud of them for standing up to the trash talk. He listened as each of them talked about how much they supported Skyler. Then it was time to talk about the video and tabloid response.
"I just don't understand why such filth has to be printed about my friend," bit AJ. "Does no one have any shame? My friend is lying in a hospital bed fighting for his life. It sickens me that all the tabloids could think of to print were more smears against his name. Maybe Skyler was right about the press. Maybe none of us should talk to you ever again."
With that said AJ got up and walked away as reporters screamed his name. AJ McLean wasn't the only celebrity to ditch the press. Over the next few days Ben watchesd as other celebrities were shown on television running from the press or completely ignoring them all together. One actress threatened to call her attorney if two photographers didn't stop harassing her. A backlash had started and the press was suffering. No celebrity was granting interviews and every news program talked about it.
Fox News ran a special show called "Crossfire" to talk about the decline in celebrity interviews and general boycott of the press by celebrities from every entertainment division. Talk Show hosts began to joke about it, and Ben was very happy to see that none of them had any jokes about Skyler.
Celebrities continued to come to the hospital to talk to the family and show their support. Even JC Chasez tried one more time to see Skyler. Ben was ready for him this time, however. He took the call from Skyler's security that JC was downstairs. He left the waiting room and took the elevator to the first floor. JC was standing there talking to Brent and CJ when Ben reached the main lobby of the hospital.
"What do you think you're doing here?" Ben demanded when he was close enough to be heard without raising his voice.
"Ben . . ."
"I'm Mr. Thomas to you, Joshua," hissed Ben. "After what you put my son through, you expect us to let you upstairs to see him? You have got to be out of your mind. And tell your mother that this time we're not afraid of the press. If she starts her shit again, we'll sue both of you."
"I just wanted to see Sky, and my mother won't . . ."
"You bet your pampered ass that your mother won't do anything," snapped Ben. "I don't know who you people think you are, but my son won't be treated the way you treated him. I won't have it. He's lying up there fighting for his life and you aren't welcome to make it harder for him."
Ben turned to leave and said over his shoulder, "Show him out, boys."
He went back upstairs and sat in his son's room. He watched Skyler's chest rise and fall as he breathed. He listened to the steady beep of the monitor and basically sat in silence. There were no words to say now. He'd begged and begged God to wake him up. He was getting more and more afraid that if Skyler didn't wake up soon he'd be lost forever. He thought of all the things he'd done with Skyler when he was little and tears finally began to fall again.
He'd missed so much of Skyler's life. The VH1 show had made that clear. Now all he wanted was the future but it seemed that fate wanted to take that away as well. It wasn't fair and he couldn't accept it. What had they done that was so wrong that this had to happen? he wondered. Had he really been a horrible father? Was this punishment for not fighting harder to keep Skyler in his life?
Was Jason supposed to miss out on having his big brother in his life? Was Preston supposed to be without any of his parents? Was that little boy supposed to grow up without ever knowing the wonderful man that wanted to be his father? Ben sat there at his son's bedside and sobbed for the twentieth time in two days. How was he supposed to deal with this?
Suddenly he stopped and gasped as he noticed that Skyler's eyes were open.
"Behind The Music" is property of VH1 Music Television. The show that is transcribed in this chapter is a fictional representation of the actual television series. This show never aired.
The next chapter will be posted soon.