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More AEG emails dissected: Jacksons v AEG Update

By | Published on Thursday 6 June 2013

Michael Jackson

AEG Live President and co-CEO Randy Phillips continued to have his 2009 inbox dissected as the Jacksons v AEG court case continued in LA yesterday.

Phillips is the AEG executive who was most publicly linked to Michael Jackson’s ill-fated ‘This Is It’ venture four years ago. The Jackson family accuse his company of liability for the late king of pop’s death while working on ‘This Is It’ because it paid his doctor, Conrad Murray, who was found guilty of causing the singer’s demise through negligent treatment. But AEG argues that Jackson himself recruited and managed the medic.

A plethora of emails exchanged between AEG execs and contractors in spring 2009 have surfaced as part of the legal squabble, many first made public in that LA Times leak last September. Amongst those published by the newspaper at that time was one from Phillips reporting back to his firm’s US office ahead of the big press announcement in London in March 2009 at which ‘This Is It’ was unveiled.

Explaining why that press announcement was so delayed at the time, Phillips said in the confidential email to overall AEG chief Tim Leiwicke: “MJ is locked in his room drunk and despondent. Tohme [Jackson’s manager] and I are trying to sober him up and get him to the press conference”.

After Leiwicke responded “are you kidding me?”, Phillips went on: “I screamed at him so loud the walls are shaking. Tohme and I have dressed him and they are finishing his hair and then we are rushing him to The O2. This is the scariest thing I have ever seen, he is an emotionally paralysed mess riddled with self loathing and doubt now that it is showtime. He is scared to death. Right now, I just want to get through this press conference”.

But, according to LA-based KCAL9, the Jackson family’s lawyer Brian Panish first presented another account of the incident given by Phillips, in with the AEG Live boss played down the drama, saying the singer was just hung over. “Was Mr Jackson drunk [before the press launch]?” Panish asked Phillips yesterday. “No, to the best of my knowledge no” the AEG man responded. But why the email to Leiwicke, the Jackson attorney asked?

Panish went on, did Phillips yell at Jackson that day? The AEG President conceded he had raised his voice, but added – regards Panish’s detailed questioning about the London launch and his seemingly conflicting accounts – that “in the two and a half hours this all took place, if you take it out of context the answer won’t make any sense”.

It’s not entirely clear why Panish is dwelling so much on inconsistencies in emails and other correspondence between AEG execs, ie whether it is an attempt to simply damage the credibility of the company’s management, or part of a bid to show that bosses at the company knew of issues around Jackson’s mental and physical well-being, but chose to ignore and deny the problems in a bid to ensure the ‘This Is It’ venture wasn’t hindered. Possibly both.

Either way, AEG’s legal team say that they plan to show how – when taken in context – there are not so many contradictions in correspondence between their client’s executives as Panish et al have suggested. Plus, presumably, they will question whether any such contradictions, however many there may be, have any relevance to the question at the core of the case: did AEG Live hire and manage Murray?

Yesterday’s court proceedings were the first since the case kicked off at the end of April where no representative of the Jackson family was in attendance. That was likely explained by the later news that Michael Jackson’s daughter Paris has been hospitalised, seemingly after an apparent suicide attempt.

As reports of that incident began to circulate yesterday afternoon, her grandmother and guardian Katherine Jackson told ‘Entertainment Tonight’: “Being a sensitive fifteen year old is difficult no matter who you are. It is especially difficult when you lose the person closest to you. Paris is physically fine and is getting appropriate medical attention. Please respect her privacy and the family’s privacy”.