July 17, 2019 at 12:27 pm PDT | by Susan Hornik
The careless whisper of fame at any price

Casey Dolkas stars as George Michael in Reelz Channel documentary on the singer’s life. (Photo courtesy Reelz Channel)

There are so many musical artists you long to hear on the radio, knowing that even if a song of theirs came on, it would put you in just the right mood for your day. And if it’s a George Michael song you want to hear, there is also that nostalgic feeling, appreciating the music of a man sorely missed. 

Reelz Channel feels your pain, putting together a “Price of Fame” docu-drama episode based on the dynamic singer’s life, airing July 28. Actor Casey Dolkas recreates moments in Michael’s life during the series, everything from his road to stardom when he was in his late teens to all his struggles along the way in the 1990s. 

The format of the show features one-on-one interviews from the real people in his life, such as Simon Napier-Bell, the manager of Wham! This will be mixed with archival footage, and then important scenes from his life will be played out. Rob Lamberti plays George in his later days.

Dolkas was “honored” to portray Michaels. “I had of course, known his hit songs, and a little bit about him as a person, so that is what originally intrigued me about the role. However, the more I did my research, the more I became a bit nervous, because he is just such a beloved icon. He had such a dedication to his craft, so this made it really fun to play as an actor.”

As much as he was controversial at times, Dolkas saw so much good in Michael’s life. 

“I believe one of George’s best qualities was his love for the music. He did not care about fitting in the mold of a certain genre, and once he was already successful, he just wanted everything to be about the music, as opposed to his public appearance. He had a tremendous work ethic and of course, passion for what he did,” said Dolkas.

“I also love the overall positive vibe his band, Wham! created. At a time when music became a bit dark and heavy, George and his bandmate Andrew Ridgeley broke out with these feel good pop bangers. Their iconic shirts with the slogan ‘CHOOSE LIFE’ was promoting anti-drug and anti-suicide. Such great messages through music.”

Through his research, Dolkas learned much about Michael, including that he had anonymously donated millions of dollars to different charities. “It wasn’t until after he died that the charities and the public knew it had been Michael. He was a major LGBTQ rights campaigner and HIV/AIDS charity fundraiser, with proceeds from his music and shows supporting such causes.”

Dolkas described Michael as the “quintessential” example of being true to who you are. 

“This was apparent in his music,” emphasized Dolkas. “From the beginning of his career, he broke barriers in genres and shook up the music industry. He felt that he had to suppress his homosexuality because he was such a sex icon for female fans. Later, he let that go and made everything about his music and spreading positivity and love.”

To take on such a tremendous role, Dolkas did extensive research, creating a music playlist.

“This was heavily influenced with George’s music, but I also listened to a lot of music that he loved, like Gladys Knight and Freddy Mercury. In addition, I listened to other music that was popular at the same time, for example, David Bowie, Dire Straits, and The Police. I studied everything that I could, mostly YouTube videos of his interviews to get down his dialect, diction, and movements. I received some great advice to record his interviews and drive around in my car playing them on repeat, and repeating everything he said. I also kept a journal of important dates and milestones of his life.”

When fans watch the series, they will be surprised at how much Dolkas looks like Michael.

“My girlfriend is a colorist/stylist at Andy LeCompte Salon in West Hollywood. So, I was able to hire her to get my hair just right, as this was such a staple of George. We had a few reference photos, but I had never had this done. She is the best in the biz, so it came out perfect. I also had to have my eyebrows threaded… This I hope I don’t have to do again! The hair, makeup and wardrobe on the set were all so amazing. I had about 25 different clothing changes in a few days. Because I played ages late teens to early thirties, and we shot out of sequence, I think everyone did a great job at applying that great George stubble.”

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