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Prisoners Of Love: The New Michael Jackson Tribute

Stop The Presses!

Talk about deja view all over again.

Earlier today, the 1,500 orange-jumpsuit-clad inmates of the Cebu Provincial Detention & Rehabilitation Center on the east coast of Cebu Island in the Philippines reprised their phenomenally popular 2007 viral performance of Michael Jackson's "Thriller" to honor the King Of Pop, who died Thursday. After that, they performed this touching new tribute:

The original four-minute Web-smash video, you may recall, stemmed from an experimental program started by local security consultant Byron Garcia, which added synchronized dancing to the prison's exercise programs in the hopes of spurring better attendance and more involved participation. And judging by the results, it was certainly a success, as Garcia's post of the convicts' conga lines cavorting a la Jackson and his legion of undulating undead became an immediate phenomenon, drawing over 24 million hits--a million of them in the 24-hour period following the news of Jackson's death. 

Of course, "hit" would seem to be an especially appropriate word when discussing criminals--though judging from the, er,  résumés of many of the thespic inmates at Cebu prison, drug-related offenses do seems to be up there in shared "credits."

Were these guys and gals troupers? After getting the OK to proceed with the tribute performance, the 1,500 guys and gals of the Cebu company practiced virtually around the clock under the watchful eyes of not only their built-in audience of armed prison guards but also a professional choreographer hired by the prison to whip the company into "Thriller"-appropriate lurching shape. 

And bless their paying-their-debts-to-society heads, the Cebu inmates have once again done their warden, the country, and, yes, the entire planet proud. As Michael Jackson, the fallen idol whose music helped these unlikely people gain international recognition, once noted, it doesn't matter if you're black or white, or living as a free person in society or inside a detention and rehab center in the Philippines. We're all people--and we are the world.

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