Thome away from my $
Where’s my house? (underlined twice)
(A note written by MJ in 2008-09)
By The Last Tear (Lou)
Section 1- Kenny Ortega’s testimony (if you have read Kenny Ortega’s testimony, please scroll down to section 2)
Kenny Ortega, the co-director of This Is It, took the stand on July 8, 9 and 10, 2013 and answered mostly to the questions raised by the plaintiff’s attorney, Brian Panish. Before the end of the third day, the defendant’s attorney, Marvin Putnam began his cross examination. But Ortega who had to go on a business trip, did not have time to finish the cross. He will come back on August 1 to finish his testimony.
Since Ortega is someone “in between”, his testimony gives us an exceptional opportunity to look closer to the triangle Jackson-Murray-Phillips (AEG) especially during June 2009 which was a crucial month for the star.
Why was Ortega “in between”? He worked with Jackson since 1990, he admired the star and he still cries when he talks about June 2009 and Jackson’s passing. On the other hand, Ortega is a respected director-choreographer in the industry who has worked with many artists and several promoters-producers, the industry’s “big bosses”. And AEG is one of them. Still a successful producer like Ortega could be ill-treated in the music industry; he said on July 10:
Ortega testified, saying he felt hurt, insulted. Panish asked if he was ever treated like that in his long career. “Oh sure!” Ortega responded. Ortega: Have I ever being talked down, hurt, insulted? Yes, so many times I can’t tell you! (ABC7).
There were more “in between” people like Travis Payne, Karen Faye, Alif Sankey, Stacy Walker. People who were dependent on both Jackson and AEG, who did not know much about what was going on and who alarmed Ortega, Frank Dileo and others as soon as they saw Jackson in bad shape. But Philips chose to not listen to them.
On June 8, 2013, Ortega said:
Panish: Do you consider yourself friend with Gongaware? Ortega: Yes
Panish: Do you consider yourself friend with Randy Phillips? Ortega: Yes
Panish: Do you consider yourself friend with MJ? Ortega: Yes (ABC7)
He also said:
Panish asked Ortega about “This Is It” and his role on the shows. The choreographer said he was Michael Jackson’s creative partner. Ortega added that he reported on financial and scheduling issues to AEG Live. He says he kept them updated on the “creative growth.” (AP)
And in cross (on July 10) he said:
Putnam asked Ortega about how he thought Phillips and Gongaware viewed Jackson. “I felt they loved him,” he said. Ortega said there wasn’t any reason for him to think that Phillips and Gongaware didn’t still love Jackson. He said he believed the execs cared for Jackson “because of the way they supported him throughout the entire venture.” (AP)
In fact, Ortega had nothing to do with AEG:
Panish mentioned that Ortega was originally a named defendant in the suit. He asked if Ortega knew why he was dismissed. He said yes. The director said he believed he was dismissed because he wasn’t an employee of AEG Live. (AP).
Kenny Ortega saw Michael Jackson for the first time in 1963-64 in a local theater where he was growing up: “Michael was walking through the backstage and he made eye contact with me. He looked at me and smiled. I was overwhelmed,” Ortega said. Ortega: I was in such awe of him and the brothers. It was such a momentous moment for me; it was like being touched by a star (ABC7).
In 1990 Jackson called Ortega and asked him to help mount the Dangerous Tour:
“I felt incredible, he was the greatest performer on the planet and as far as I’m concerned. The greatest song and dance man ever.” He said he was co-director of Dangerous with MJ. MJ had a ton of ideas, asked him to realize those on stage. “It was exciting, stimulating, awesome,” Ortega said. Ortega described Michael Jackson: Musician: world class Singer: one of a kind Dancer: the best. (ABC7)
But Ortega never knew that on the “Dangerous” tour, Jackson who suffered from scalp injury and surgery became dependent on painkillers. He never saw the star take medications.
Later in 1995, Ortega came in and acted as Jackson’s consultant for an event at the Beacon Theater in New York when the star was trapped in a difficult situation. Some people wanted to change his classic choreography and Jackson was unhappy:
Ortega: He called me in because he was unhappy with what was going on with his classic choreography, he didn’t want it to be changed. Ortega said MJ fainted and the show was cancelled. Panish: Can we say he collapsed? Ortega: Yes. MJ was then transported to the hospital by ambulance. “It could’ve been exhaustion, I don’t know, I don’t recall,” Ortega said. (ABC7) (Please read some articles about the Beacon Theater, the HBO incident and the doctor who helped Jackson in the appendix).
In 1996, Ortega and Jackson worked again together as co-creators and co-directors in HIStory Tour:
“We used to call creative jousting,” Ortega described the creative process. Ortega: We didn’t always agree on 100%, we allowed ourselves to have creative joust, to play with the ideas and allowed it to ripe. Panish: Was his creativity or demeanor different? Ortega: He was still inspired, raised the bar on himself and on everyone working with him. Ortega: The video used for the show would have subtitles saying love one another, take care of the planet, take care of the children. (ABC7)
Ortega explained also the Munich accident when a bridge fell with Jackson on it. Nevertheless, the star continued performing but as soon as the show was finished, Jackson was rushed to the hospital. After that, he suffered back pain for the rest of his life.
When Jackson and his children were back again to the US, they went to see Ortega’s High School Musical in Las Vegas:
Panish: How did it make you feel? Ortega: (long pause) I’m speechless, I can’t think P: Was that a big thrill? O: Beyond. “I know for sure Paris was singing, they were all standing and enjoying it,” Ortega recalled. MJ went backstage. “The cast, they were just crying, and screaming, and just speechless,” Ortega said. “He was very generous, very sweet and kind to everyone,” Ortega said about Michael Jackson. (ABC7)
And then This Is It was born; on February 10, 2009, Ortega got an email from Paul Gongaware about the TII. They wanted him to work again with MJ. After ten years, Ortega and Jackson would work together; this time Jackson wanted that they built something more spectacular than ever.
The TII tickets were sold quickly and Ortega was glad for AEG also for Jackson:
Email on 3/12/09 from Gongaware to Ortega: Blew out 30 shows today on the presale. Hot doesn’t begin to describe it.
Ortega responded: I’d say we are off to a good start. Congrats to all.
Gongaware responded: We stopped at 50 sold out shows at the O2 arena. Demand was there for another 50. This is history and you’re part of it.
Ortega responded: Yeah! Good for MJ, God knows he’s been out through as much negative as any one person should have to go through. Great news, I couldn’t be happier for the Team. (ABC7)
But TII was like other tours where the independent employees have to work without contracts and just hope that everything would eventually work out:
Email on March 25, 2009 from Gongaware to Ortega: Kenny, I’m afraid we may not be able to meet your financial requirements for a deal. I’m totally bummed by this. Couldn’t sleep last night trying to figure it out. We need to move forward quickly. Email cont’d: I know, but I haven’t been able to find a way to make this work. My deepest, most sincere apology. Paul G (ABC7)
“I remember it had to be approved by Mr. Jackson,” Ortega said about the email. He testified he never spoke about money with MJ. Judge asked what “financial requirements” meant to him, and Ortega said it referred to his salary. Panish: Were you surprised? Ortega: Was I surprised? No “Not what I expected, but sometimes negotiations take time,” Ortega explained. Panish asked if this was a negotiation tactic? Ortega smiled and answered perhaps. Ortega didn’t think the negotiations were dead. He kept working in good faith. Ortega and Payne share the same agent (Julie McDonald). He and Payne continued working without a contract. “It was my hope and in the end we would come to terms,” Ortega said. Ortega: It would all work out and I kept the faith that that would happen. Ortega said he performed auditions for dancers, singers, band and interviewed various people for various designer’s role. (ABC7)
Ortega got his contract on April 25, 2009. And it said that he would get: a total of $1.5 million, plus $100K for each of the five territories and $250K for the US. (ABC7).
Perhaps you have noticed that Ortega said that Jackson needed to approve his salary; that is because Jackson would pay for everything and every employee! This is what “The contract” between Jackson and AEG Live said. But not many knew this. In fact, everywhere we read or heard about AEG’s “generosity” who “had given” money to the star to launch his tour! Usually, the media and AEG “forgot” to say that the money was some advances to Jackson and he had to pay it back to AEG.
Before going further, we need to mention the Press Conference in March 25, 2009 in London. Ortega said in his testimony that he did not know what happened before the conference:
Ortega said Randy Phillips never told him what happened before the TII press conference with Michael Jackson. He said had he known, it would have had an impact on whether to go forward with TII. “I didn’t know anything had happened and I wasn’t there, so there wasn’t anything to be surprised about,” Ortega said “Honestly, I didn’t even know if it was for sure,” Ortega said. He testified in his depo he was surprised Phillips didn’t tell him anything. (ABC7)
Panish asked how Ortega would’ve been impacted had he known MJ’s condition on the day of the press conference. Panish: Less wanting to do it? Ortega: Yes P: Less wanting to do it because of MJ’s condition? O: Yes. Panish: Because you cared about MJ’s condition? Ortega: Yes (ABC7)
Eventually, every part of the show was in place but the task of mounting the parts together was still there. Phillips and Gongaware did not go to the rehearsals but Bugzee was there; Apparently, Bugzee was Gongaware’s eyes and ears:
Ortega said Bugzee was not the stage manager. He worked under Paul Gongaware as accountant, Ortega explained. “I wouldn’t have called him stage manager,” Ortega said about Bugzee (Houghdahl). Panish: Did you ask Bugzee to write an email on your behalf? Ortega: Not that I recall (ABC7)
Ortega wished that he could work more often with Jackson alone:
Panish asked if at times Ortega would want to meet with MJ alone. Ortega said yes. “In order to get into each other’s head and for me to be in the same page with MJ on where his plans were for the show,” Ortega explained. (ABC7)
In fact, they needed to work closely to be able to mount all the pieces. The time passed quickly. Mid-May 2009, nothing was done. Ortega and Jackson understood that they have to postpone the opening. Also, Ortega was not happy with the TII ads. He thought they were misleading people:
The concerts were supposed to start in London on July 8. Ortega: Michael and I both wanted to extend our time before opening, so I felt comfortable taking the heat (of postponing it). “As a director of the show, I didn’t feel we would be ready for the show’s original dates,” Ortega said. (ABC7)
Email on 5/19/09 from Ortega regarding the postponement of the show: I’m uncomfortable with the way the release reads at this moment. I feel strongly that it is unnecessary and misleading to both of the press and fans to suggest things as “staging is from another planet” or “never before seen staging.” We are not doing the Chinese Olympics. (ABC7)
Ortega said they were exaggerating, and that he thought the press release was “creatively misleading.” “The show got so big,” Ortega explained, saying he needed an extra week to get it ready. Phillips is quoted in release that “this is a one-off adjustment do purely technical reasons and we don’t anticipate any further changes.” (ABC7)
Ortega noticed that Jackson was not always mentally there with him. He also saw sometimes that the star was assisted:
Ortega said he doesn’t recall the conversation with Payne about MJ being treated for sleeping problems. He doesn’t dispute that he may have. Ortega: I believe I was under the impression Michael was seeing doctor. I believe when he showed up like that he had been to a doctor. “I just didn’t need Mr. Payne to make me aware of it,” Ortega said, explaining he could see the problems himself. Panish: You saw, at least 4 times, MJ come to rehearsal in a condition you’d describe as under the influence? Ortega: Yes. Ortega said he’s not a specialist in drug addiction. Panish asked if he had discussion with Payne about it. Ortega: I don’t recall the conversation, but most likely yes, I’m not disputing his testimony. (ABC7)
At the beginning of June 2009, Jackson and Ortega were focused on the Dome project. They worked in the Culver City studios and shot several 2D and 3D short films for the TII tour. The work lasted nine days, June 1-9. On June 11, Jackson invited several fans to the Culver City studios to show them his work.
But from June 13 which was a Monday, Jackson kind of “disappeared”. Ortega was anxious. He learnt that Murray had kept him home because he was not well. According to Ortega’s testimony, Jackson did not go to the rehearsals for a week:
Panish: Would it be fair to say as of June 14, 2009, you thought the show was in jeopardy? Ortega: Yes
Panish: Would it be fair to say as of June 14, 2009, everyone was under pressure? Ortega: Yes (ABC7)
It was not only Ortega who was worried:
Ortega said Karen Faye, Travis Payne, Alif Sankey, assistants Stacy Walker and James Faris raised concerns about MJ’s physical condition. “I don’t think everyone spoke about it, but they were aware and concerned,” Ortega said. (ABC7)
Ortega began his email conversation with Phillips, Gongaware and others:
Kenny Ortega discussed emails he sent on June 14, 2009 regarding Jackson’s missed rehearsals, poor condition. Ortega email snippet: “He is not in great physical shape. I believe he’s hurting. He has been slow at grabbing hold of the work.” This email was sent roughly a month before “This Is It” was scheduled to premiere at the O2 Arena. Ortega said he had serious concerns at this point whether or not the “This Is It” shows would happen. (AP)
Ortega said he just wanted to make sure MJ had all health benefits available to be able to do the show. (ABC7)
Email on Jun 14, 2009 from Gongaware to Ortega: Frank and I have discussed it already and have requested a face-to-face meeting with doctor. We want to remind him that it is AEG, not MJ who is paying his salary. We want him to understand what is expected of him. (ABC7)
Email On June 16 from Bearden to Ortega: Hey guys! on MJ’s lead vocal re-sings. I’m not sure if we’re going to get what we need in time. I’d like 2 try 2 get some alternate takes or un-processed leads from the vault if we can. I can go in with M Prince and re-mix the stuff we need on the 22nd (our proposed media day). I we can get everything we need from the vault I can use what we have and take out ad libs and such to try to make it feel new. MJ is not in shape enough yet to sing this stuff live and dance at the same time. He can use the ballads to sing live and get his stamina back up. Once he’s healthy enough and has more strength I have full confidence he can sing the majority of the show live. His voices sounds amazing right now, he just needs to build it back up. (ABC7).
Response on June 16, 2009 from Ortega I have a 2:30 at MJ’s house today with Frank, Randy, Paul and he Doctor. I will add your concerns/requests 2 an ever growing list of items I already plan 2 discuss w/ MJ. The plan is he’s joining us tonight for band work. How many individual vocals are we talking about? If he put his mind to it, how long would it take? (ABC7).
Panish then asked Ortega whether he went to Jackson’s house for a meeting on June 16, 2009. KO said he didn’t remember going to the house. Panish showed Ortega an email indicating he was planning to go to a meeting with Randy Phillips, others. Ortega said he had so much going on at the time, he just doesn’t remember it. “I could have had this meeting,” he said. Panish asked whether things got better or worse after the June 16 meeting at MJ’s house. Ortega said they got worse. (AP)
Ortega did not remember if Jackson came to the Forum on June 16, 17 and 18; but he remembered that on June 19, the star came late to the rehearsals. MJJ Timeline tells us that Jackson went to Forum on June 17 and 18. On June 17, Branca, Dileo (who was back on May 20, 2009) and Jackson worked out a schedule; they would collaborate together as soon as Branca was back from the holidays:
June 17: John Branca meets with Michael & Frank Dileo during rehearsals at The Forum and they talk about working together again.
June 18: Michael does not show up at rehearsals. Randy Phillips goes to Michael’s house at 100 Carolwood Way, Beverly Hills in the presence of Dr Murray and they demand Michael to stop seeing Dr Klein and stop takings the drugs Dr Klein give him. Michael finally goes to the rehearsal at the Forum at 9:30 pm visibly shaken.
In her testimony, Kai Chase described a loud and harsh meeting at Carolwood sometimes in the second week of June which is from June 8-14. Probably, she talks about a June 16 meeting because there is no data about a meeting in June 8-14. Ortega was not in this one:
Chase said there was a meeting at the house with Paul Gongaware , Randy Phillips, Dr. Murray and MJ, former manager Frank DiLeo.
“Mr. Jackson asked me to fix snacks since he had guests coming over,” Chase said. Meeting was around the second week of June.
Chase said the meeting was at the parlor. She went in and out serving beverages, snacks.
Mr. Jackson was covered-up, Chase said. MJ was wearing a surgical mask and several layers of clothing, sweatshirt.
Chase: I observed that he looked scared, he looked scared and frightened may be about this meeting would entail
“I immediately heard loud crash,” Chase said. MJ had a very expensive vase sitting behind where he wild sit.
Chase: The vase crashed. It was rather large so it was loud. Myself and one of the housekeepers ran into the room to pick up the pieces.
“I was able to hear some of the conversation,” Chase said. “They were very firm with him.”
Everyone was talking over each other, Chase recalled hearing. “MJ left the meeting first, the gentlemen stayed,” Chase said.
Dr. Murray left second, came through the kitchen to leave. “He was upset,” Chase said.
He said “I can’t take this s**t,” Chase said Dr. Murray told her, storming out of the house.
Chase said others stayed in the parlor. She left around 6 pm, shortly after Dr. Murray, and the men were still there in the meeting.
Let us continue with Ortega’s testimony about June 19 when Jackson sick and frozen came in to The Forum:
“I remember asking for food, I asked if MJ had eaten” Ortega recalled. “I remember calling the doctor, I was very upset and I was concerned”. “I wanted someone who’s a professional to be aware that Michael showed up in that condition,” Ortega explained. Ortega: I know that I did my best to provide for Michael. I don’t recall if the doctor ever answered the phone or I kept leaving voicemails. Ortega: We talked, Karen put a heater on the floor, took off his shoes, I began rubbing his feet, he said it felt very good. Ortega said MJ told him he never had his feet massaged before. “I couldn’t believe it!” Ortega said. Ortega said he cut up the salad, Michael ate, they talked and Michael said he didn’t want to go home, he wanted to watch the rehearsal. Ortega said Michael asked that Travis Payne be on stage and be him, so he could seat with the director and see it.
Panish: Do you remember crying? Ortega: Yes.
Panish: Were you crying because you were concerned with Michael? Ortega: Yes
P: Overreacting? O: No P: Being a drama queen? O: No P: Serious concern? O: Yes
Panish: And you did everything you could? Ortega: Yes, that I could think about it
Panish: Did you try to tell AEG there was a problem? Ortega: I believe you have records of it (ABC7)
After Jackson went home on June 19, an email chain called “Trouble St The Front” was circulating between Bugzee, Ortega, Phillips, Leiweke, etc.:
Email on 6/19/09 from John Hougdahl to Gongaware and Phillips Subject: Trouble at the front Paul/Randy I’m not being a drama queen here Kenny asked me to notify you both. MJ was sent home without stepping foot on stage. He was a basket case and Kenny was concerned he would embarrass himself on stage, or worse yet – get hurt. The company is rehearsing right now, but the DOUBT is pervasive. Time to circle the wagons. Bugzee (ABC7)
Ortega: I didn’t leave MJ’s side until he left. I wanted to be with him, I didn’t want to leave his side. Ortega said he remembers having thoughts at the Staples Center and typed his email probably while still there. Ortega said he didn’t respond to the chain of emails, but was only offering his accounting of the day. (ABC7)
“Trouble At The Front” Email: Ortega wrote: I will do whatever I can to be of help with this situation. My concern is now that we’ve brought the Doctor in to the fold and have played the tough love, now or never card, is that the Artist may be unable to rise to the occasion due to real emotional stuff. He appeared quite weak and fatigued this evening. He had a terrible case of the chills, was trembling, rambling and obsessing. Everything in me says he should be psychologically evaluated. If we have any chance at all to get him back in the light, it’s going to take a strong Therapist to help him through this as well as immediate physical nurturing. I was told by our choreographer that during the artists costume fitting with his designer tonight they noticed he’s lost more weight. As far as I can tell, there’s no one taking responsibility (caring for) for him on a daily basis. Where was his assistant tonight? Tonight I was feeding him, wrapping him in blankets to warm his chill, massaging his feet to calm him and calling his doctor. There were four security guards outside his door, but no one offering him a cup of hot tea. Finally, it’s important for everyone 2 know, I believe that really he wants this. It would shatter him, break his heart if we pulled the plug. He’s terribly frightened it’s all going to go away. He asked me repeatedly tonight if i was going to leave him. He was practically begging for my confidence. It broke my heart. ( Ortega began to cry while reading this part of the email.) He was like a lost boy. There still may be a chance he can rise to the occasion if we get him the help he needs. (ABC7)
Email from Phillips: Kenny, I will call you when I figure this out. We have a person like that, Brigitte, who’s in London advancing his stay. We will bring her back ASAP and Frank, too, however, I’m stymied on who to bring in as a therapistand how they can get through to him in such a short time. (ABC7)
Ortega responded Phillips: Randy, I’m at home awaiting your call or instructions. I honestly don’t think he is ready for this based on his continued physical weakening and deepening emotional state. It is reminiscent of what Karen, Bush, Travis and I remembered just before he fainted causing the HBO Concerts to be canceled. There are strong signs of paranoia, anxiety and obsessive-like behavior. I think the best thing we can do it is get a top Psychiatrist on to evaluate him ASAP. It’s like there are two people there. On (deep inside) trying to hold on to what he was and still can be and not wanting us to quit on him, the other in this weakened and troubled state. (ABC7)
Ortega: He was afraid for one thing I was going to leave him. Anxiety: he was anxious he didn’t want me to leave or quit. Ortega: Obsessive behavior: he was repeating for me not to quit or leave him. “There was no question in my mind that Michael wanted to do the shows,” Ortega said. Ortega: ‘There’s nothing to be afraid of, we are going to do this, This Is It.’ That’s the Michael I had allegiance to. (ABC7)
Phillips responded to Ortega that he not be an amateur psychiatrist. Ortega said that was not his intention. Ortega said he does not know whether Dr. Murray was ever successful, unbiased and ethical. The director did not check the doctor out himself. Ortega didn’t think Dr. Murray was giving good care to MJ. (ABC7) The email included Phillips’ statement that AEG Live had checked out Conrad Murray and that he was “unbiased and ethical.” Ortega had only had one previous conversation with Murray. He said he didn’t know if he was successful, ethical or had been checked out. Phillips also said they needed to “surround Mike with love and support.” Ortega said that’s what he’d been trying to do. (AP)
Panish: And you had a real concern with Dr. Murray? Ortega: Yes. Panish asked if Ortega thought MJ was not being cared for. “Not at the level I’d expected Michael deserved,” he answered. (ABC7)
Kenny Ortega agreed when plaintiff’s attorney Brian Panish asked him whether the email was a “cry for help.” (AP).
During the cross, Putnam showed Ortega’s phone records on June 19th. There are 2 calls from Ortega to Dr. Murray and 1 from Murray to Ortega, all very short.
At last June 20 came and they met at Carolwood. Ortega described that the meeting was to attack him because he sent Jackson home on June 19 and wrote several emails which made people uncomfortable:
Gongaware told Ortega about the meeting on the 20th. Neither Phillips nor Dr. Murray ever told Ortega they spoke on the phone for 20 mins. Meeting on the 20th was between Michael, Dr. Murray, Randy Phillips and myself. It happened at the parlor in the house. Ortega said when he realized the meeting was about him, he stood up to express his feelings. Ortega did not stay very long at that meeting. He estimates 10-15 minutes, definitely under a half an hour. Ortega left by himself. The others stayed: Jackson, Dr. Murray and Phillips. Ortega said Dr. Murray began the meeting. He said he had a feeling the meeting would be about the night before and the depth of his concerns. Ortega described the meeting as “accusatory.” Panish: Who was the one being accused? Ortega: Me P: Who was accusing you? O: Dr. Murray. Dr. Murray was upset with Ortega, the director said. Panish: Did Phillips ever tell you that he had a phone conversation, for 20 minutes, on June 20th with Dr Murray? Ortega: Yes, through email. Ortega said all he’s familiar with is that Phillips had a lengthy conversation with Dr. Murray at some point. (ABC7)
Ortega said Dr. Murray was angry at him at the meeting, “I was shocked,” Ortega explained. Ortega: I was shocked because what he was saying it wasn’t at all reflecting of what happened. Ortega said he excused himself. Dr. Murray said MJ was fine and could handle all responsibilities for the show. “I was flabbergasted! Because I didn’t believe that was possible,”
Ortega said Dr. Murray told him to stick with his job and to leave the doctor job to him. Ortega testified he asked Michael to explain to Dr. Murray that MJ asked to stay, but the evening was different. And MJ did just that. MJ stood up, gave Ortega a hug before he left. “The doctor suggested that MJ had told him one thing and now was saying another” Ortega said. “Michael said no, no, no, they were in disagreement too,” Ortega said. The director told MJ he only cared about MJ. Ortega said MJ responded ‘I know, I know, I love you, I will take the reins.’ (ABC7).
But on June 23 and 24, something “miraculous” happened:
The production was off for a few days, then Jackson returned to rehearsals on June 23rd. It was miraculous,” Ortega said. “All of a sudden, it was a miraculous recovery,” Ortega said. “Whatever the flu or whatever it was, wasn’t there.” Ortega of Jackson on June 23, 2009: “For some reason, all of a sudden, he looked like he had risen from the dead. He had a metamorphosis.” Ortega said Jackson’s transformation led him to doubt himself. He said he was like someone who had a short illness. It seemed like Jackson had gotten some “real sleep,” Ortega said of Jackson. (AP).
Sadly, Jackson died on June 25.
Let us add 2 more facts to these chaotic days in June 2009, June 13-25:
On June 13, Jackson took a sick day and stayed home: Murray’s recommendation. On June 13 or 14, Jackson called Klein’s office and asked if they know any anesthesiologist.
On June 21, Jackson felt sick and asked his assistant to call nurse Cherilyn Lee. Unfortunately she was not in LA but she urged Jackson to go to the hospital.
During the AEG Live trial, several witnesses – Travis Payne, Alif Sankey, Karen Faye, Stacy Walker, and Kenny Ortega – testified that two weeks before his death, Michael Jackson was in poor health but Randy Phillips and other AEG executives chose to ignore it.
Kenny Ortega suggested that other doctors should help Jackson. John Branca was ready to send in a therapist he knew but Randy Phillips chose to refuse all the warnings and the suggestions which had surely saved Jackson’s life.
But why? Why did Randy Phillips prefer Conrad Murray? Why did he even ignore Jackson’s wish to have a specialist who would help Murray? In fact, Jackson wanted Dr. Adams to work with Murray.
The only answer to these questions is that Phillips had already a bargain with Murray and did not want anyone new in the middle of it. What could this bargain have been? We do not know the whole of it but we know some parts of it: if Murray had fixed the insurance problematic, he could have his $150K contract. Besides, Murray had to jump in and back up Phillips when needed, for example on June 20’s meeting, when Ortega “played amateur doctor”, Murray had to shut him down. As we know, Phillips and Murray had a long phone conversation before the meeting and Phillips sat quietly in the meeting and watch Murray attacking Ortega.
Murray’s other duty was to get Jackson ready for whatever the star had to do – to rehearse or to perform – and that at any cost even if he had to pump poison into Jackson’s body.
What more did Murray do for Phillips?
The certified public accountant Arthur Erk’s analysis and estimations gave a new dimension to Jackson-AEG-Colony relationship (Please read ABC7 tweets about Arthur Erk’s testimony here https://twitter.com/ABC7Courts -July 15 and 16 ). Arthur Erk is an expert in musician’s royalties. 25 years ago, when Jackson wanted to buy the ATV catalog from the Australian Robert Holmes à Court, Mr. Erk was hired by John Branca to determine the value of the catalog. During the 80’s, he did some other works for Michael Jackson.
Mr. Erk said that since TII was Jackson’s last performances, he certainly wanted to gain as much money as possible to pay his debts, to buy a house and to live a quiet life with his children.
On the other hand, Mr. Erk compared Jackson’s selling ability to other well-known performers and came to this conclusion: Michael Jackson was and is on the top of the pyramid. No other performer is close to him.
He explained why AEG executors (we add Colony’s as well) were willing to invest money on Jackson and TII: after the unprecedented demand for the O2 shows – sold 750 000 tickets in 5 hours and still 525 000 people were on waiting lists – the executors knew that Jackson would bring them a lot of money!
Mr. Erk testified that he had reviewed some emails from 2008 and 2009 where the AEG executives talked about a world tour that could take 3 to 4 years:
“If London goes smoothly, we could migrate this show to the brand new, state-of-the-art stadium in Berlin, the O2 World,” Phillips wrote (ABC7)
Email from September 2008 plan: In July 2009 — If all goes well, we embark on a well routed and spread out worldwide tour. Email cont’d: taking advantages of the gigantic secondary ticket market, massive sponsoring opportunities subject to well we have rehabilitated him and very lucrative “exotics” (ABC7).
Panish said this is a document prepared by Gongaware in addition to the 50 shows in the O2 arena:
Email from Gongaware: MJ first draft worldwide tour projection Here’s a first-draft look at worldwide MJ tour. Email cont’d: On paper, it starts Jan 9 and runs thru April 2011… Right now we project 186 shows… Net to Mikey $132 million Email cont’d: It’s a big number, but this is not a number MJ will want to hear. He thinks he’s so much bigger than that.
186 shows over 27 months — Gongaware projection 260 shows over 37 months — Erk projection. Erk said AEG had 1.59 show per week in their projection and Erk had 1.60 shows per week in his projection (ABC7).
Panish showed a document Gongaware attached to his projection with a list of tentative venues all over the world.
World tour included: Berlin, Hamburg, Munich, Paris, Zurich, Milan, Johannesburg, Dubai, Japan, India, Australia, New Zealand
More tours:, South America, US starting in Florida, Texas, New Orleans, California, Denver, Utah, Chicago (ABC7).
Arthur Erk added that the false accusations against Jackson and the 2005 trial did not affect his selling ability in 2009.
About the performer’s age, Mr. Erk mentioned other older artists who performed recently shows which were promoted by AEG; Mick Jagger 69 years old, Barbra Streisand 71 years old, just finished up both shows for AEG. Keith Richards 69 years old with previous addiction problems, does tours and is successful.
Mr. Erk’s estimation for Michael Jackson’s earning is between $1.1 billion and $1.5 billion based on 260- show tour, merchandise, endorsement deals and royalties from a Las Vegas show. Jackson had to work until 66.
On the other hand, we have seen AEG’s estimations which are very low than Erk’s:
$22 million for 50 O2 shows and $ 132 million, Gongaware’s estimation, for the world tour.
There is a third estimation done by the The Wall Street Journal on March 6, 2009. This is based on 10 shows in O2, no merchandise, no endorsement deals and the “experts” had not seen yet the incredible demand for the O2 shows. Nevertheless, their estimation is $400 million. Please read the article:
March 6, 2009
Moonwalking to the Bank
The King of Pop returns to the stage as part of a multimillion-dollar concert deal
By ETHAN SMITH
In a step that could help salvage his precarious personal finances, pop star Michael Jackson announced Thursday his first concert tour in 12 years.
The touring deal with concert promoter AEG Live could be worth as much as $400 million for Mr. Jackson over three and a half years. The first phase of the tour includes 10 concerts at London’s O2 arena beginning July 8, but he has the option to extend the run for additional dates at venues spread across three continents.
It marks a risky comeback bid for the self-styled “King of Pop.” Once one of the most popular entertainers in the world, the 50-year-old Mr. Jackson has been out of action for more than a decade. That was due in no small part to a series of legal and publicity challenges stemming from a trial on charges of child molestation, which ended in acquittal.
Depending on the strength of ticket sales for the first 10 shows, Mr. Jackson may add more dates at the O2, with the ultimate goal of exceeding the record-setting 21-night stand by Prince in 2007. Depending on how many dates he adds, Mr. Jackson’s take from the London concerts alone could be between $30 million and $50 million, according to people familiar with the matter. Tickets to the London performances are to go on sale, via an online lottery system at MichaelJacksonLive.com, next Wednesday for £50 ($70) to £75 ($105) each.
Mr. Jackson would then have the option to add more dates in Europe, Asia and finally North America. But he is not committed to play any shows beyond the original 10, and would in any event not reach the U.S. before 2011. “He has been the biggest star in the world and it’s time for him to get back on the stage,” said Randy Phillips, president and chief executive of AEG Live.
People involved in the deal say that if Mr. Jackson decides to extend the tour, it would represent a significant step toward rehabilitating his shaky financial situation. His long-running legal saga drained much of his wealth. Mr. Jackson has borrowed hundreds of millions of dollars against his share of Sony/ATV Music Publishing — a joint venture with Sony Corp. — and other assets. Sony/ATV generates an estimated $300 million to $350 million a year in revenue, a small piece of which flows to Mr. Jackson in the form of dividends. In addition, Sony around three years ago arranged for a loan to Mr. Jackson by British banking giant Barclays PLC, backed by his share of the venture. As a result, he sees little direct income from the endeavour. A Sony spokeswoman declined to comment.
But if Mr. Jackson goes through with the full concert-tour plan, he could be in a position to make an offer for Sony’s share of Sony/ATV in about a year and a half, according to people close to the matter, under a buy-sell provision in the partnership agreement.
Last year, Mr. Jackson’s Neverland Ranch was saved from foreclosure by Los Angeles private-equity group Colony Capital, which bought the note on the property for millions of dollars. Colony now holds an equity stake in Neverland and is deeply involved as a business advisor to Mr. Jackson. A Colony associate, Tohme Tohme, has been serving as Mr. Jackson’s manager for the past year and was involved in arranging the AEG deal.
Mr. Jackson has in recent years cut back on his lavish spending habits, according to people involved. After living in a rural compound in Pahrump, Nev., Mr. Jackson moved briefly to the Bel Air Hotel in Los Angeles. When those expenses got too great, several months ago, he moved to a $100,000-a-month rental property in the same area.
As part of the deal, AEG’s corporate parent, Anschutz Corp., agreed to invest in a pet project of Mr. Jackson’s, a 3-D feature film based on his song and music video “Thriller.”
People close to the singer say that he is eager to return to work. “Between Anschutz and us, he’s got plenty of capital,” said Tom Barrack, Colony’s chief executive. “He’s serious, he’s focused, he’s healthy and he’s listening.”
To obtain insurance for the tour, AEG arranged for an independent physician to conduct a five-hour physical exam of Mr. Jackson. “He passed with flying colors,” said AEG’s Mr. Phillips.
“For the first time in his life, Michael Jackson has people around him who believe in him and look after him,” said Dr. Tohme. “And are trying to help him and advance his career.”
—Aaron O. Patrick contributed to this article.
Write to Ethan Smith at email@example.com
So which estimation is the most accurate one? Even if you cannot answer this question, something is clear: the numbers that AEG showed to Jackson were much lower than the accurate ones. Who would cash all the millions of dollars that would be left? The difference between AEG’s estimations and the real sell grossed by the tour, who would get it? Not Jackson obviously but AEG and Colony of course!
What does this mean? This means that in June 2009, Michael Jackson was in battle with Phillips-AEG and Colony about his share from the tour.
Please notice that in June 09, the star had gathered around himself his old team, the 80’s and the beginning of 90’s team which made him the most successful artist in the world – Branca, Dileo, Ortega, Faye, and the others. He was ready to come back and to conquer again the world! But he did not want to pay more than he should to AEG and Colony. You can imagine the intensity of their fights which were hidden from the public eyes.
The reason behind Jackson’s poor health and anxiety was not only Conrad Murray who killed the star a little every day; Jackson was in fight with all the people who wanted him as their cash cow. Remember HBO and Jackson who was not happy with them. He did not give in.
The incredible thing is that he might have won partially the fight before he died. Do you remember that Thome Thome was back days before Jackson’s passing? The star said to his children that Tohme would find them a house to buy. So going from “Thome away from my $, No contact, Where is my house” note to “Tohme will find us a home to buy” could be an indication that he achieved some of his goals.
After the rehearsals on June 23 and 24, which were successful, Jackson was about “to take the reins”. When he left the Staples Center on June 24, he said to Phillips that he was ready to take the command; but some hours later, he died which makes the tale Murray told to LAPD on June 27, 2009, very hard to believe. This brings us to the next topic: Murray and Jackson.
Jackson had to live 25 years with scalp burn, vitiligo, lupus and other injuries but he still delivered the best performance and the best music and dance ever. It would be impossible for him to not need doctors and medications. He had to trust them but he was not blind to the fact that they might have inabilities and make mistakes. In fact, when you are depending on people, you are vulnerable and Jackson knew very well about his vulnerability . That is why he wanted a specialist to work with Murray. The thought that Murray could have worked behind his back with Phillips might have crossed his mind after the meeting on June 20. Why did he call Nurse Cherilyn Lee and not Murray on June 21 when he felt sick? Why did he forbid Murray to send his “medical history” to Bob Taylor, the insurance broker on June 24?
Let us not forget that Dr. Christopher Rogers from the Coroner’s office who conducted Jackson’s autopsy testified twice (during Murray and AEG Live trials) that MJ’s “health appeared excellent” (ABC7- May 13, 2013).
Imagine that Michael Jackson did not die on June 25, 2009, that he survived miraculously Conrad Murray and “his treatment”. What could have happened next? Jackson would probably have taken the reins! His team, especially John Branca would have helped him to put things straight between the star and AEG-Colony; Murray would have to leave and destroy the secret tape(s) he made in fear of being sued by the star and his legal team; Jackson would have made a lot of money, paid his debts, bought a home for his children and lived his life quietly; he could have done some films and written some music if he had wished to!
But would his adversaries let him achieve his goals this time? Would they let him be and live his life?
Michael Jackson hospitalized after collapse
December 6, 1995
Web posted at: 6:40 p.m. EST
NEW YORK (CNN) — New York City Emergency Medical Services said entertainer Michael Jackson collapsed on stage at the Beacon Theater in New York Wednesday during a rehearsal and was taken to a nearby hospital.
EMS officials said they received a call at 4:51 p.m. EDT from a security guard at the theater who said Jackson was not breathing. When they arrived he was awake and alert, said EMS spokesman John Hanchar.
A preliminary diagnosis found that Jackson was suffering from dehydration and hypotension, or dangerously low blood pressure, Hanchar said.
He was transported to Beth Israel Hospital North on the upper East Side of Manhattan to be examined, Hanchar said. Paramedics treated Jackson with an IV and oxygen.
A hospital spokesman said that Jackson was in stable condition and will undergo some tests after being admitted.
Jackson was in New York preparing for his HBO special “Michael Jackson: One Night Only,” which was scheduled to be taped Friday and aired Sunday.
Published: Wednesday, Jul. 08, 2009 / Updated: Wednesday, Jul. 08, 2009 07:31 AM
Rock Hill doctor helped saved Michael Jackson’s life after 1995 rehearsal collapse
By Andrew Dys, Columnist – firstname.lastname@example.org
When Dr. William Alleyne II heard about Michael Jackson’s death last week while on vacation, this doctor who specializes in lung ailments in Rock Hill turned young again.
In his mind, he was just Bill Alleyne, the young guy who spent money out of his pocket to buy Michael Jackson albums. The guy who became a doctor and took his new bride to Michael Jackson concerts.
“It was an overwhelming sense of sadness, Alleyne said.
Sure, Bill Alleyne is a Michael Jackson fan like millions. But Dr. William Alleyne had more reason to be sad than most fans. Alleyne said Tuesday, for the first time in 14 years, I was the doctor who saved Michael Jackson’s life.
In December 1995, Alleyne was the critical care director at Beth Israel North Hospital, on the Upper East Side in New York City across the way from the mayor’s Gracie Mansion. He was the guy in charge when one of the nurses told him, We have Michael Jackson coming here.
Alleyne didn’t believe it then.
“I said, ‘Ha, ha, very funny,’ Alleyne recalled.
He had seen patients who were stars, or spouses of stars, but this was different. Thousands of people started clamoring outside the hospital. The place was turning into bedlam.
“Ten minutes later, they rolled Michael Jackson in on a stretcher, Alleyne said Tuesday from his Rock Hill office where he’s one of the partners at Carolina Pulmonary Physicians. But in 1995, Alleyne was the doctor to the King of Pop. Jackson had collapsed after a rehearsal for an upcoming HBO special at the nearby Beacon Theater.
Alleyne and his wife had seen Jackson before in concert, on television, and now, in 1995, Jackson was waiting, unconscious, for Bill Alleyne to save his life.
“Mr. Jackson was in critical condition, Alleyne said. He was dehydrated. He had low blood pressure. He had a rapid heart rate. He was near death.”
Alleyne went from doctor to a star to doctor of a man who could die. Alleyne, an acquaintance of Jackson’s doctor at the time who had seen some of that doctor’s patients, had been picked personally by that doctor to be the attending physician for Jackson’s emergency care. Alleyne gave the order to have the defibrillator ready if needed to treat the abnormal heart rhythm of the most famous entertainer with the best rhythm on Earth.
After about an hour or so that December dusk, Alleyne said he had Jackson stabilized with intravenous fluids and other treatment, and transferred Jackson to intensive care. But in the meantime, the crowd outside had become massive, a mob scene.
“I looked outside the window, and the crowd was shoulder to shoulder, huge, far more than when the mayor’s mansion across the street had hosted the pope, the president, even Nelson Mandela, Alleyne recalled.
And inside the hospital, Alleyne said, it was absolute pandemonium.
Jackson’s entourage had muscled into intensive care. Alleyne had a brief showdown with one bodyguard who did not want to let Alleyne in the room again after Alleyne had left briefly. Alleyne recalled he said to the bodyguard, Your boss is dying in there, and I am going in there to save his life. You can be the one who has to say you wouldn’t let me in.
Bill Alleyne walked in and saved Michael Jackson.
But the crush of people inside wasn’t over. The entourage of Jackson’s then-wife, Lisa Marie Presley, came in. Presley came in, too. Then through the middle of the crowd, another entourage, and Janet Jackson, Michael’s sister.
“Here is Janet, drop-dead, stop-the clock gorgeous, and she said, ‘Thank you for taking care of my brother,’ Alleyne recalled.
Alleyne found time to call home. His wife, Cheryl Courtlandt, a physician herself who now is a pediatrician at Levine’s Children’s Hospital in Charlotte, was home with two small kids.
“I’m gonna be a little late honey, Alleyne told his wife. Turn on the news.
He told his wife Michael Jackson was his patient, and she said to her husband, verbatim, in words Alleyne will never forget: Well, you take care of Mr. Jackson and hurry home, because I have two kids here and you need to take out the garbage.
Jackson soon was stable, and Alleyne and Jackson started a doctor/patient relationship similar to all in theory but unlike any relationship Alleyne had ever had in practice. As people were climbing trees to get pictures of inside the hospital, as Jackson’s fans sang his songs outside and the world press invaded the sidewalks and street for information about the condition of this most-famous man, Bill Alleyne tried to keep Michael Jackson alive with intravenous food and care.
Michael Jackson was the most soft-spoken, least demanding guy you would ever want to meet, Alleyne said. Everything he said was a whisper. His biggest concern was could he perform.
Alleyne told Jackson no way could he perform anytime soon.
Alleyne had to get permission to release information to Jackson’s family. Jackson gave it. Alleyne had to deal with other doctors who came to watch his every move, and a world that wanted information that Alleyne would not give to anybody but those Jackson said to give it to.
After about 72 hours, Alleyne and Jackson’s publicists and others realized they had to give a press conference. So Alleyne worked with Jackson’s people to go over what could be said, what to stay away from but still tell the truth. Alleyne was blunt with the world, saying Jackson did not have any immune system problems because rumors about AIDS were swirling. He was blunt that Jackson had no drugs in his system.
News accounts from 1995 show Alleyne and his then-partner, Dr. Bob Glennon, talking about Jackson’s condition to convince the world that Jackson was, in fact, critically ill.
“Michael Jackson was unconscious when he arrived, Alleyne said. I had to make that clear.
Through the next few days, Alleyne was Jackson’s doctor. Other doctors came to watch behind him, but Alleyne said he was not affronted. Having others sets of eyes look at his care and treatment of Jackson was understandable.
Jackson had to do what other patients who are recovering must do, Alleyne said. Walk around, be monitored. Except he had an entourage in the next room.
“After a couple of days, Mr. Jackson told me he needed to get his hair done, Alleyne remembered. I told him we had a barber at the hospital.
Jackson’s entourage laughed: A stylist traveled around the world with Jackson and would style those locks right there in intensive care. The makeup crew came in, too.
Near the end of Jackson’s hospital stay, he asked Alleyne if he could visit other patients in intensive care. Jackson met one lady, gave her an autographed picture after he prayed with her, and the lady told Alleyne, I can die now; I prayed with Michael Jackson.
Alleyne recalled, laughing: I told Mr. Jackson maybe visiting with people who had suffered heart attacks or other serious problems wasn’t such a good idea.
When Jackson was discharged, Alleyne stayed in the background as the cameras went off and the video was shot. But Jackson asked Alleyne to make house calls for the next three days. Blood pressure checks, pulse, all that stuff. Alleyne was the director of critical care house calls were not his bag. But Michael Jackson had asked, so Alleyne said yes.
“House calls, to the penthouse of the Four Seasons hotel, Alleyne said. He had rented out the entire top two floors.
In one moment of weakness, Alleyne said he almost asked Jackson to teach him how to moonwalk Jackson’s famous trademark dance.
But Alleyne kept it professional with Michael Jackson, as the entourages and the world watched Alleyne’s every move.
Finally, about two weeks into this whirlwind relationship, Alleyne told Jackson, Mr. Jackson, you are stable. I can stop being your doctor and return to being your fan.
All humble Alleyne asked for was an autographed picture for his kids to have years down the road.
Before Alleyne left the hotel that day, Alleyne recalled Jackson telling him: Thank you for saving my life.
Then Jackson told Alleyne he understood how difficult it had been for a black man to get to such a distinguished position within the medical world, that Alleyne’s accomplishments were inspiring to Jackson.
“It was very touching, Alleyne said. I will never forget that.
Alleyne never gave an interview since then, never signed any book deals or made a nickel off being Michael Jackson’s doctor of almost two weeks. He never spoke to Michael Jackson again.
Alleyne, other than casual conversation with friends, or associates in medicine, or among the people at his medical practice, never told anyone of his time as doctor to the most famous entertainer in the world.
Alleyne’s own children, son Douglas and daughter Courtney, only learned of his role when a documentary came out a few years ago that had some of the footage of the news conferences from 1995 in it. There was Bill Alleyne.
“Daddy, are you Michael Jackson’s doctor?” his daughter asked.
“I said yes, because I was his doctor, Alleyne said. I looked at it as always being his doctor, that I had a professional relationship with Mr. Jackson and would honor that.
This man with Carolina roots in his family came to Charlotte in 1996, then began practicing medicine in Rock Hill in 1999. He’s done what humble doctors do: give some time to reading at schools, volunteered, raised his kids.
The sign outside his Rock Hill medical practice only has his name. There is no mention of Michael Jackson anywhere in the building.
Only now, after Jackson’s death, did Alleyne agree to share his remembrances of those days.
Alleyne said that he told his wife, only half-jokingly, that the world spotlight would be on the doctors who had recently been caring for Jackson before his death.
Alleyne said he would be remembered as: I was the doctor who saved Michael Jackson’s life.
Alleyne has, at night the past few days after seeing patients, watched some coverage of the aftermath of Michael Jackson’s death.
That to this day he is so loved comes as no surprise to me, Alleyne said. He was very gracious and kind.
He understands that there were accusations against Jackson after 1995, but that was not the Michael Jackson Bill Alleyne knew in 1995.
And Tuesday afternoon, as tens of millions, maybe more, watched the memorial service for Jackson from Los Angeles, here’s what Bill Alleyne, doctor, did: He saw other patients. He did not watch TV.
He helped a lady with a little bit of cardiopulmonary trouble. Another with asthma. More. Each received Bill Alleyne’s full attention, as he had given Michael Jackson his full attention in 1995.
Alleyne saw them all, gave this interview about that two weeks 14 years ago, then went home.
Just like he did for those crazy days in December 1995, when Bill Alleyne was Michael Jackson’s doctor.
Rock Hill doctor helped saved Michael Jackson’s life after 1995 rehearsal collapse | The Herald – Rock Hill, SC