Wednesday, 12 June 2013

Randy Phillips Testimony - Day1



 
 
 
 
Michael made a highly publicized announcement in 1993 that he was ending his "Dangerous" tour early to enter a substance abuse rehab program because of an addiction to painkillers. His last "Dangerous" concert was in Mexico on November 11 1993, and the video above was a deposition recorded November 8.
"I don't remember hearing it," Phillips testified, referring to the tour cancellation.
"When's the first time you heard?" Jackson lawyer Brian Panish asked.
"Just now," Phillips responded.
 
Phillips said he didn't learned about it from a December 2008 news story focusing on Jackson's drug abuse and rehab, even though he sent it in an e-mail to Jackson's manager saying:
"Have you read these stories? This reporter did a lot of research."
 
"I don't remember reading it," Phillips testified.
 
 What's up Phillips, have you the same memory loss problem as Paul Gongaware - see my post here? Are we really meant to believe that the CEO of such a huge concert promoter neither heard of nor researched this before 2013. It's laughable. But I see why he's saying this: if he admits he knew Michael's drug history AND ignored warnings that Michael was too ill to perform, he is going to make AEG liable and he's not going to do anything to let THAT happen now is he?
 
 
Phillips began worrying about Michael backing out of the concert tour just a month after he signed the contract with AEG Live to promote and produce it and more than a week before the announcement. OK, so what specifically was worrying Phillips? If Phillips allegedly had no knowledge of Michael being ill or taking drugs, what prompted this even before the announcement of the concerts took place?
 
 
"I was worried that we would have a mess, his career would be over," Phillips testified. "There were a lot of things I was worried about."
 
 
But instead of pulling the plug then, before millions of dollars were spent, AEG Live chose to force Michael ahead.
 
 
"Once we go on sale, which we have the right to do, he is locked," Gongaware wrote to Phillips.
 
 
Michael, his children and manager Tohme Tohme boarded a private jet for the London announcement, but he was not ready when Phillips went to his hotel suite to escort him to the O2 Arena.
 
 
"MJ is locked in his room drunk and despondent. Tohme and I are trying to sober him up and get him to the press conference with his hair/makeup artist," Phillips told parent-company AEG CEO Tim Leiweke in an e-mail.
 
 
Phillips testified it was "a very tense situation" and "frankly, I created the tension in that room. Because I was so nerve-racked, OK, the time slipping away, and his career slipping away."
 
 
AEG was hosting thousands of Michael Jackson fans and hundreds of journalists for the anticipated announcement, which would be seen live around the world.
 
 
 
 
"I screamed at him so loud the walls were shaking," Phillips wrote to Leiweke. "Tohme and I have dressed him, and they are finishing his hair, and then we are rushing to the O2. This is the scariest thing I have ever seen. He's an emotionally paralyzed mess, filled with self-loathing and doubt now that it is show time. He is scared to death. Right now I just want to get through this press conference."
 
 
Phillips e-mailed a man who was waited outside the hotel with a convoy of vehicles that he put Jackson in a cold shower and "just slapped him and screamed at him."
 
 
In court, Phillips downplayed his words as "an exaggeration."
Yes, of course he did, because if Phillips admits he was REALLY worried and concerned, the are going to ask him WHY.
 
 
"I slapped him on the butt," he testified, comparing it to what a football coach would do to a player.
 
 
Michael arrived at the 02 more than two hours late to announce: "This is it. This is really it. This is the final curtain call. OK, I'll see you in July."
 
  
"Now I have to get him on the stage. Scary!" Phillips wrote in an e-mail to another promoter.
 
 
Jackson lawyers contend this fear led AEG Live executives to take control of Michael's life as he prepared in Los Angeles to premiere the tour in London in July of 2009.
 
 
Show producers sent warnings in mid-June that Jackson's health appeared to be failing.
 
 
Associate producer Alif Sankey testified earlier in the trial that she "had a very strong feeling that Michael was dying" because of his frail health.
 
 
She called show director Kenny Ortega after one rehearsal. "I kept saying that 'Michael is dying, he's dying, he's leaving us, he needs to be put in a hospital,'" Sankey said. "'Please do something. Please, please.' I kept saying that. I asked him why no one had seen what I had seen. He said he didn't know."
 
 
After Michael failed to show up at several rehearsals in June -- or was unable to perform sometimes when he did appear -- Gongaware sent an e-mail to Phillips that Jackson lawyers call their "smoking gun."
 
 
They argue the message shows the executives used Murray's fear of losing his lucrative job as Michael's personal physician to pressure him to have Michael ready for rehearsals despite his fragile health. "We want to remind (Murray) that it is AEG, not MJ, who is paying his salary. We want to remind him what is expected of him," Gongaware wrote.
 
 
Gongaware testified earlier that he did not remember writing the e-mail and Phillips testified last week that he didn't remember reading it. How very convenient. A double-act and they are closing ranks.
 
 
However, Phillips convened what he called "an intervention" at Michael's home with Murray, Michael and Ortega present.
 
 
A Los Angeles police detective summarized what Phillips told investigators about that meeting: "Randy (Phillips) stated that Kenny (Ortega) got in Michael's face, at which time Dr. Murray admonished Randy, stating, 'You're not a doctor. Butt out."
 
 
Asked about it in court, Phillips said the detective's summary is wrong. "That's not what I said," Phillips testified. "I told them something completely different than this. They just conflated the people and the things." Oh. So you can remember what you said on this occasion, Phillips, are you suffering from selective memory by any chance?
 
 
What actually happened was Murray "got into and admonished Kenny Ortega not to be an amateur physician and analyse Michael," Phillips said.
 
 
Phillips sent an e-mail after the meeting saying he had confidence in Murray, "who I am gaining immense respect for as I get to deal with him more."
 
 
"This doctor is extremely successful (we check everyone out) and does not need this gig, so he (is) totally unbiased and ethical," Phillips' e-mail said. So, you check everyone out, except you didn't check Murray out nor did you check Michael out?
 
 
He conceded in court that no background check of Murray was conducted by AEG Live. Jackson lawyers argue that had it been done, they would have discovered Murray was in deep debt and dependent on the lucrative job.
 
 
Murray said he was infusing Propofol into Michael every night to treat his insomnia so Michael would be rested for rehearsals.
 
 
Phillips contradicted Gongaware's earlier testimony that Michael was under no contractual obligation to attend rehearsals. Phillips refused to advance money to help Michael pay his staff days before his death because he believed the singer was "in an anticipatory breach" of his contract because he had missed rehearsals, he testified.
 
 
 
 
Phillips acknowledged that he and his lawyer met with Michael's former manager Tohme Tohme -- another key witness in the trial -- last month. The meeting happened in the Polo Lounge at the Beverly Hills Hotel on May 4, at the end of the first week of testimony. That is May 4 2013, folks.
 
 
"I don't remember if it was the testimony in this case or what the lunch was about, but Marvin Putnam (AEG's lead lawyer in the trial) was at the lunch with me," Phillips said when asked about it by Panish. If your memory really is that bad Phillips, they need to replace you as CEO. I suspect he remembers very well what was discussed.
 
 
He couldn't remember "100%" but they may have discussed Tohme's legal battle to get paid by Jackson's estate, he said.
 
 
"I don't remember what I ate that day," Phillips said.
 
 
"I didn't ask you what you ate," Panish replied. "I asked you what you talked about."
 
 
"I can't jail somebody for not answering a question," Palazuelos said when Panish complained Phillips was being evasive. "There's only so much I can do."
 
 
She warned Phillips that jurors would see it for themselves.
 
 
"You give an answer, and you're not answering the question, the jury is going to get the impression that you're being evasive."
 
 
"I realize that," Phillips said.

Of course he realises that, he's doing it on purpose to evade losing AEG money and his saving own ass.

Wednesday, 5 June 2013

Paul Gongaware - Day 3 Testimony




Paul Gongaware testified on Friday that he never saw indications that Michael used drugs or travelled with a doctor when he managed that tour in 1996 and 1997.

What Gongaware knew -- or didn't know -- about Michael's drug use is a key issue in this case,


Gongaware, under questioning by his own lawyer Friday, testified that he only became aware that Michael was addicted to painkillers when the singer made a public announcement after his "Dangerous" tour abruptly ended, so he could enter rehab in 1993.

He was a manager for the "Dangerous" tour, but only handled logistics and didn't travel with Michael then, he said.

His job on the second half of the "HIStory" tour, however, carried more responsibilities and he worked closely with Michael, he said.

Gongaware testified that he saw "no indication at all" that Michael was using drugs during that tour. "I would be certain to notice it if that was the case."

Did Michael have a doctor treating him during the "HIStory" tour, his lawyer asked.

"Not that I know of," he answered.

In fact, Michael was "sensational" on stage, performing 10 to 12 shows a month, he said. Unlike in the "Dangerous" tour, he never cancelled a show because of his health.

"He only missed one," he said. "That was when Princess Diana died. He heard about the accident, went to bed, woke up, found she passed away and it affected him deeply."

But an interview that Michael gave to Barbara Walters weeks after Diana's death could help Jackson lawyers refute Gongaware's claim that no doctor traveled with the singer during the tour.

Walters asked Michael about how he learned the news that his friend, the Princess, had died.

"I woke up and my doctor gave me the news, and I fell back down in grief and I started to cry," Jackson said. "That's why the inner pain, the pain in my stomach and in my chest, so I said 'I cannot handle this. It's too much.'"

Michael's statement that a doctor was at his bedside when he woke up the day of a scheduled "HIStory" show in Belgium is not the only evidence he did have a physician on the tour.

Dr. Neil Ratner, an anesthesiologist from New York, has acknowledged that he traveled with Michael during part of the tour. He was at Munich, Germany, in July 1997 when a stage collapsed and Michael suffered a back injury. It was two months before Diana's death.

Dr. Ratner declined to talk about his treatment of Michael when CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta confronted him outside his Woodstock, New York, home in July 2009, although he did confirm that Michael had trouble sleeping.

"It's really something I don't want to talk about right now," he told Dr. Gupta.

A source who was close to Michael Jackson told Gupta in 2009 that when Michael had trouble sleeping that Dr. Ratner helped "take him down" and "bring him back up."

Ratner, who was convicted of insurance fraud and stripped of his license to practice medicine for three years in 2002, is on the witness list for the trial and has been questioned in a deposition by each side.

Debbie Rowe will testify that she assisted in administering Propofol to Michael in the 1990s when she was a nurse, AEG Live's Putnam said on the opening day of the trial.


"She saw several doctors put Mr. Jackson to sleep in hotel rooms while on tour," Putnam said, including in Munich, London, Paris.

But Gongaware and others did not know, he said.

"The truth is Mr. Jackson fooled everyone," Putnam said about Michael's Propofol use. "He kept those who might have helped him at a distance and no one knew his deepest, darkest secret."

Michael's ability to keep his private side private meant AEG executives could not see any red flags warning of Michael's destruction, Putnam said.

"They didn't see this coming," he said. "They had no idea."

Putnam said Jackson family members, including Janet and her famous siblings, will testify about their failed attempts at intervention and their lack of knowledge about what was happening.

"If they didn't know what was going on, how could someone else think there was even a problem," he said.


But Jackson lawyers will argue that Gongaware, who closely watched expenses on the "HIStory" tour because it was losing money at one point, would have noticed spending on hotel rooms and fees for a doctor traveling with the tour.

Trouble is Putnam, someone else DID think that there was a problem In fact SIX people by my count - see my post here. They knew, they brought it to AEG's attention, they even suggested a psychiatrist for Michael, but AEG decided that it was all an over exaggeration and ignored the advice. Now AEG are using the excuse of poor memory, and denial to defend themselves. This, my friends, is how corporations defend their actions these days, and I am not just talking about big cases like this one.
The family also knew something was wrong. They may not have known what exactly, but they would have had a pretty good idea it wasn't good for Michael.

FOOTNOTE:
As I write this, Michael's beautiful daughter Paris is recovering in hospital after an attempted suicide.
We don't know today what triggered this episode, all we know is that she was unhappy for a while and has a lot going on in her life. She is Michael's daughter, so I am really worried about her.
I don't know if this trial played any part in her unhappiness, but I can say that even for myself, someone who never met Michael, the information coming out is particularly difficult to cope with.
I have had to give myself some time off from blogging about it, because it has been very painful to follow. And very depressing.
I can't imagine what it must be like for his children.

Sunday, 2 June 2013

Paul Gongaware Day 2 Testimony







"You aren't going to kill the artist, are you?" Michael Jackson purportedly asked producers after viewing and "endorsing" a test of the combustible special effects, a production manager recalled in a June 19, 2009, email revealed in court.


Concert production manager John "Bugsy" Houghdahl relayed the quote to his boss Randy Phillips, the CEO of concert giant AEG Live, as part of an explanation of the singer's sick and disoriented demeanor at the June 19 rehearsal in Los Angeles.



Houghdahl said he assumed the comment was a passing reference to the pyrotechnics, but he also said show director Kenny Ortega later observed Michael acting like "a basket case."


"Kenny said (Jackson) was shaking and couldn't hold his knife and fork. Kenny had to cut his food for him before he could eat, and then had to use his fingers," Houghdahl wrote in the email. "I don't know how much embellishment there is to this, but (Kenny) said repeatedly that MJ was in no shape to go on stage." (Houghdahl is referring to June 19, not the whole rehearsal period).


Katherine's lawyer Brian Panish said outside court that he thought the Houghdahl email showed Michael was shaken by the pyrotechnic display after having suffered serious burns from an explosion on the set of a 1984 Pepsi commercial.

A lawyer for AEG said that wasn't the case.


"It may seem chilling in retrospect, but (Houghdahl) believed (Michael) was making a joke at the time. Michael Jackson wasn't afraid of the pyrotechnics. He wanted them," AEG lawyer Marvin Putnam told the News.


Panish needled Gongaware repeatedly on Wednesday, asking what steps AEG took to address Ortega's concerns, and why some messages about Michael's meltdown were sent by Phillips to his personal email address, not his business account.


Gongaware said he didn't know why Phillips used different email addresses for him but that he believed everyone wanted what was best for Michael.

"The artist's health is the most important thing, I agree with that," Gongaware testified Wednesday. "The artist is the most important thing."


Gongaware also told the court he wasn't worried about Jackson getting adequate health care.


An email from "This Is It" concert documentary director Kenny Ortega about Michael being late or absent for rehearsals. Gongaware responds with a request for a face-to-face meeting with Michael's doctor, Conrad Murray.

"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," Gongaware says in the email.

The statement is evidence that AEG hired Murray, according to the plaintiffs. It is the centrepiece of their lawsuit.

For 30 minutes Gongaware rebuffed questions about that email. Repeatedly, he testified, "I don't know"; "I don't remember writing it." His only concession was, "I was going through hundreds of emails. If I knew lawyers would be picking apart everything, I would have been more careful."

Further emails show that as the opening of "This Is It" drew near, Ortega writes that Michael needs nourishment, physical therapy. "We have 20 days, we can't let him slip."

Gongaware responds: "We're on it."

Ortega says, "Super, not a minute too soon."

Days later another email was headlined "Trouble on the front." It warned Gongaware that "We might be getting beyond damage control here."

Yet on the stand Gongaware testified that no physical therapist or nutritionist was ever hired. He said he thought Ortega was exaggerating Michael's health concerns.

He said Michael didn't like to rehearse, that previously Michael didn't rehearse before the "HIStory" tour either. But when the lights went up, Michael was "on," he stated.

AEG's position is that Michel did not die from poor health or pressure -- rather that it was Dr. Murray's decision to secretly administer an intravenous sedative. AEG says in court documents that Murray's conduct was not foreseeable.

 

Paul Gongaware also testified his only role in Murray's contract was negotiating the price of  Murray's services in compliance with what Michael asked him to do.

Gongaware said that neither he nor anyone at the entertainment giant investigated Murray's background or credentials.

"The fact that he had been Michael Jackson's personal physician for three years was good enough for me," Gongaware said.
Who told him that? I was aware that Murray had helped Michael's children in Las Vegas a few years before, but does that make him Michael's personal physician?

Asked if he knew that Murray was in financial difficulties when he took the job as tour doctor, Gongaware answered no.

He said that Murray initially asked for $5 million to travel to London with Michael and tend to him during the tour.

"I just told him it wasn't going to happen," he said, recalling that Michael then suggested offering him $150,000 a month.

"Michael Jackson insisted on it and recommended him and it was not for me to tell him no," said Gongaware, who is a defendant in the multibillion-dollar lawsuit.

"I wanted to provide what was necessary for him to do his job...He wanted a doctor and I wanted him to be healthy."

Even after the offer of $150,000, Murray wasn't satisfied.

"He started saying he wanted more and I said, 'The offer is coming directly from the artist," Gongaware said.

Minutes later, he said Murray accepted.

"Did that seem desperate to you?" asked Panish.

"No," said Gongaware. "He just accepted Michael's offer."



Gongaware often pleaded poor memory of events. He said he may have met with Michael as many as 10 times, but could remember only two of the meetings and only one when Murray was present.

Really, is this how people wriggle out of their responsibilities these days, by claiming poor memory?

Prodded by Panish, he remembered a meeting at which Michael arrived late from a doctor's appointment and had slurred speech.

"He was a bit off," he said, "that was the only time I saw him like that."

At the heart of the case is who hired Murray. At first, Gongaware insisted he did no negotiating with Murray, but, confronted with emails and his previous testimony, he changed his position and said, "The only thing I did with Dr. Murray was negotiate a price."

He indicated that he was so shocked by Murray's demand that he consulted a doctor friend to see what he would charge for the same job. The other doctor said he would have gone on tour for $10,000 a week.

"Did you ever convey that to Michael Jackson?" asked Panish.

"I don't recall," said Gongaware whose testimony was peppered with that phrase.




Murray's fees technically AEGs responsibility?

Shawn Trell and Kathy Jorrie Photo: AP /Nick Ut


The 'This Is It' tour budget revealed that Murray's fee was listed as "production costs," which made it AEG's responsibility, instead of including it in "advances", which could have supported their claim that it was meant as a loan to Michael. While calling AEG's Chief Financial Officer "a very detailed-oriented guy," Trell admitted the budgeting was an error made by the CFO.

I'm not sure that I understand this. From my understanding, Michael was to pay ALL Productions costs out of his 90% share of the profits, which therefore was not AEG's responsibility.

In an effort to prove that Murray worked for AEG, emails sent a month before Michael's death were shown by the Jacksons' attorneys. Murray's contract terms were laid out in the letters, but Trell denied the emails demonstrated an employment relationship, despite his confirmation that director Kenny Ortega was also paid based on an agreement laid out solely in emails, instead of a formal contract.

During the testimony, Trell also reiterated that AEG heard of concerns from people involved in the concert production about Michael's poor condition and "they took it seriously," dismissing claims that they ignored a series of red flags that should have warned them of the singer's frail mental state.

An email from director Kenny Ortega with "trouble at the front" in the subject line was shown.
"I honestly don't think he is ready for this based on the continued physical weakening and deepening emotional state," the director voiced his concerns. "There are strong signs of paranoia, anxiety and obsessive-like behavior."

"I think the very best thing we can do is get a top Psychiatrist in to evaluate him ASAP. It's like there are two people there. One (deep inside) trying to hold on to what he was and still can be and not wanting us to quit him, the other in his weakened and troubled state ... I honestly felt if I had encouraged or allowed him on stage last night he could have hurt himself. I believe we need professional guidance in this matter."

Trell said a meeting was held to discuss the matter. At the meeting, MJ allegedly said he would improve and Murray agreed to help. According to witnesses, he did great during the next two days of rehearsals.
"Michael and the doctor stressed that he was OK. They had it under control," said Marvin Putnam, AEG's attorney.

The problem I have with this is:

a) The doc was under huge financial pressure, which could lead him to do what he is told, rather than what is right for the patient. AEG now say they did not do a check on the doctor, so they wouldn't have known this at the time. However, Paul Gongaware had past experience of celebrities and 'Dr Feelgoods', so the concept would not have been totally alien to them.
b) More worryingly, a top psychiatrist was not at the meeting and therefore how could AEG know for sure that Michael really is OK? Dr Murray was a cardiologist, not a psychiatrist, so he is not best placed to judge Michael's mental state either.

Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Paul Gongaware - Day 1 Testimony


Michael in Bangkok August 24 1993




AEG Live co-CEO Paul Gongaware, whose career as a concert promoter started with Elvis Presley's last tour, testified on Tuesday about Michael Jackson's final days.

"I was working on the Elvis tour when he died so I kind of knew what to expect," Gongaware wrote in an e-mail to a friend two weeks after Michael died. "Still quite a shock."

Gongaware, who was one of the top producers of Michael's comeback concerts, is expected to be on the witness stand for several days in the fifth week of the Michael Jackson wrongful death trial.


AEG lawyers contend that Michael Jackson chose, hired and supervised Murray, and that his bad decisions were fuelled by a drug addiction their executives had no way of knowing about.

Brian Panish questioned Gongaware about his knowledge of drug use during concert tours. He should have been able to recognize red flags signalling Michael's drug use because of his experience with Presley, and his time as Michael's tour manager in the 1990s, the Jacksons contend.
This is something I also thought, because this man had worked with Michael on the 'Dangerous' tour, which had to be cancelled because Michael went into rehab. I didn't know until this week that Gongaware also worked for Presley on HIS last tour, before Presley overdosed.

"I kind of knew what was going to happen, yes," Gongaware testified. Panish then showed jurors the e-mail in which he made a similar statement.


When Gongaware was managing Michael's 1993 'Dangerous Tour', he warned the tour doctor "Don't be a Dr. Nick" -- a reference to Presley's last physician -- the doctor testified in a deposition.

"Dr. Nick was the doctor whose over prescription of drugs to Elvis had led to Elvis' death," according to a court filing by lawyers for the Jackson family.

Presley collapsed in the bathroom of his Memphis, Tennessee, mansion -- Graceland -- on August 16, 1977, at age 42. While his death was ruled the result of an irregular heartbeat, the autopsy report was sealed amid accusations that the abuse of prescription drugs caused the problem.

"Dr. Nick" -- Dr. George Nichopoulos -- said later he was treating Presley for insomnia. He was charged with overprescribing drugs to Presley, but he was acquitted. He later lost his medical license in another case.


Gongaware was with Presley's manager Col. Tom Parker when he first met Michael in Las Vegas, he testified.

The Jackson lawyers are using Gongaware's Elvis and "Dr. Nick" reference to argue that "AEG knew Jackson had suffered chronic substance abuse and drug dependency problems for many years."

"Shortly after he joined the 'Dangerous' tour in 1993, Dr. Finkelstein was asked to treat Jackson for pain," the Jackson filing said, referring to Dr. Stuart Finkelstein, a doctor on the 1993 tour.

"Having observed signs of opiate addiction in Jackson, Dr. Finkelstein nonetheless administered Demerol by injection, and administered morphine intravenously in Jackson's Bangkok hotel room for 24 hours."

After that, Finkelstein told Gongaware "he thought Jackson had an opiate dependency problem," the filing said.

"For three and a half months, the 'Dangerous' tour continued," it said. "Another doctor attended Jackson regularly, on one occasion breaking into Dr. Finkelstein's bag to get opiates to administer to Jackson. Gongaware was there the whole time, in charge of tour logistics, aware of the various physicians present, and he discussed with Dr. Finkelstein Jackson's opiate problem."

Seriously? A doctor broke into another doctor's bag in order to get opiates? Obviously there is nothing some of these doctors won't do.

When Gongaware warned Dr. Finkelstein, whom the brief described as his "close friend," not to become Jackson's "Dr. Nick," he was "warning me, you know, don't get all infatuated where you start administering meds to a rock star and have the rock star overdose and die on you," Dr. Finkelstein testified.

Despite working as a tour promoter for 37 years -- including for Led Zeppelin, the Grateful Dead and many others -- Gongaware testified that the only artist he ever knew that was using drug on tour was Rick James.

Gongaware is currently the tour manager for the Rolling Stones North American tour.



Jurors were shown several e-mails from Gongaware that Jackson lawyers suggested were evidence that AEG Live deliberately misled Michael about how much money he would make from his comeback concerts and how many days he would have to rest between shows.

Gongaware wrote to his boss, AEG Live President Randy Phillips, that they should present gross ticket sales numbers to Michael, not the percentage of the net profits, during contract talks. "Maybe gross is a better number to throw around if we use numbers with Mikey listening," his e-mail said.

He sent an e-mail to his assistant in March 2009 suggesting that she design a concert calendar for Michael using light tan colors for show dates, while drawing attention to his rest days.

"I don't want the shows to stand out so much when MJ looks at it. Less contrast between work and off. Maybe off days in a contrasting soft color. Put 'OFF' in each off day after July 8, as well. Figure it out so it looks like he's not working so much."

Under questioning Tuesday, Gongaware said he "wasn't trying to fool him. I wanted to present it in the best possible light."
Hmm. Yeah OK. You're not convincing me Gongaware!


Gongaware is also a key witness because he wrote what Jackson's lawyers call the "smoking gun" e-mail which they argue shows AEG Live executives used Murray's fear of losing his lucrative job as Michael's personal physician to pressure him to have Michael ready for rehearsals despite his fragile health.

Gongaware's e-mail to show director Kenny Ortega, sent 11 days before Michael's death, addressed concerns that Murray had kept Michael from a rehearsal the day before:
"We want to remind (Murray) that it is AEG, not MJ, who is paying his salary. We want to remind him what is expected of him." Gongaware, in a video deposition played in court on the first day of the trial, said he could not remember writing the e-mail. How convenient. 
"They put Dr. Murray in a position where if he said Michael can't go or can't play, if he said I can't give you those drugs, then he doesn't get paid," Jackson lawyer Brian Panish told jurors in his opening statements.
AEG lawyer Marvin Putnam said in his opening statement that Gongaware and other AEG executives had no way of knowing about Michael's use of propofol to sleep.
"AEG knew nothing about this decade-long propofol use," Putnam said. "They were a concert promoter. How could they know?"
Decade-long? Is there any proof that Michael had used propofol for decade? We know he used it in 1993 and 2009, but that does not prove he used it over a whole decade.

Gongaware will also face questions about an e-mail in which he seemed to question Michael's commitment to his "This Is It" tour.
"We cannot be forced into stopping this, which MJ will try to do because he is lazy and constantly changes his mind to fit his immediate wants," he wrote to AEG's Phillips.

Michael's makeup artist Karen Faye testified earlier abut an incident in which Gongaware became frustrated because Michael locked himself in a bathroom at his home, refusing to leave for rehearsals at the Forum. Gongaware was "angry and kind of desperate to get Michael to the Forum," Faye said.
She overheard Gongaware screaming on the phone at Michael's security guard, telling him "to get him out of the bathroom. Do you have a key? Do whatever it takes."
Jackson lawyers are also expected to ask Gongaware about e-mails he received that raised questions about Michael's health in the last weeks of his life.
"This Is It" production director John "Bugzee" Houghdahl wrote to him on June 19, 2009 -- six days before Michael died -- "I have watched him deteriorate in front of my eyes over the last 8 weeks. He was able to do multiple 360 spins back in April. He'd fall on his ass if he tried now."
Houghdahl's e-mail, titled "trouble at the Front" was written after Ortega sent Michael home from a rehearsal because of his strange behaviour.
"He was a basket case and Kenny was concerned he would embarrass himself on stage, or worse yet -- get hurt," Houghdahl wrote. "The company is rehearsing right now, but the DOUBT is pervasive."

I suppose Gongaware 'forgot' about this email as well? Is this how everyone avoids the truth these days?

UPDATED:
In an email that was sent on March 25, 2009,  Randy Phillips said 
"We need to pull the plug now. I will explain."
Gongaware denied that the email was a reference to calling off Michael's "This Is It" concerts in London but instead was pointed at "pulling the plug on Karen Faye," the singer's hairstylist, makeup artist and longtime friend who had expressed fears about Michael's poor health.
So by 25th March, 20 days after Michael had announced 'This Is It" concerts in London, Karen Faye was already expressing concerns about Michael's health. "We never talked about pulling the plug on the Michael Jackson tour, not that I recall.” said Gongaware, co-chief executive of AEG Live's touring division.
Faye testified earlier in the trial that she told tour director Kenny Ortega in June that she was worried Michael would die.
In another March 25, 2009, email, Ortega wrote Gongaware that it was Faye's "strong opinion that this is dangerous and impractical with consideration to MJ's health and ability to perform." 
So they were aware 3 months beforehand, that Michael may not be fit for the tour. Yet still they were using strong-arm tactics against Michael, to get his to rehearsal.

Monday, 27 May 2013

Trolling and the MJ Community

For the record:
I am not a Troll, I do not go around Trolling forums, chat rooms or blogs. I do not know, communicate or collude with anyone in Trolling any forum, chat room or blog.

I DO state my opinion.

Stating an opinion is NOT Trolling, and for those of you who can't tell the difference:



"In Internet slang, a troll (/ˈtrl/, /ˈtrɒl/) is someone who posts inflammatory,[1] extraneous, or off-topic messages in an online community, such as a forum, chat room, or blog, with the primary intent of provoking readers into an emotional response[2] or of otherwise disrupting normal on-topic discussion". Source Wikipedia


"In general, an opinion is a belief about matters commonly considered to be subjective, i.e. it is based on that which is less than absolutely certain, and is the result of emotion or interpretation of facts. An opinion may be supported by an argument, although people may draw opposing opinions from the same set of facts. Opinions rarely change without new arguments being presented. It can be reasoned that one opinion is better supported by the facts than another by analyzing the supporting arguments.[1] In casual use, the term opinionmay be the result of a person's perspective, understanding, particular feelings, beliefs, anddesires. It may refer to unsubstantiated information, in contrast to knowledge and fact-based beliefs." Source Wikipedia.


After 25th June 2009, many forums, chat rooms and blogs were set-up to discuss Michael Jackson. I joined several of them, as they initially seemed to have new information to share on what had happened to Michael. However, as some of these grew in popularity, the owners started to run them like a Dictatorship, and anyone who expressed a differing opinion to theirs was banned and/or called a Troll. I saw it happen to many people. Worse than that, some of the owners started to reveal their own agendas, which usually involved using Michael to springboard into some agenda dear to their heart.

I know that there WERE Trolls out there, and they really did attack these forums, chat rooms and blogs, because I witnessed some of it. I don't know if they were working collectively, because I never had any dealings with them. Sometimes, the Trolling got so bad that 99% of the content of some forums, chat rooms and blogs started to be Trolling or discussing Trolling.

That is why I started my own blog, because information was getting buried underneath the lies, and enough was enough.


I am not going to name names because I am deliberately not trying to be inflammatory or provoke anyone. Those of you who have been in and around the MJ Community will probably know exactly who I am referring to, and those of you who don't, you now know that it happens and can keep an eye out for it!

Sunday, 26 May 2013

A sixth person warned of Michael's deteriorating health.

Michael tours Harrods 1999
Last week, Michael Jackson's ' This Is It' stage manager, John Hougdahl, testified that he was concerned and warned AEG Live that Michael's health was deteriorating before his death in 2009.

According to new evidence, John Hougdahl warned promoters that the Michael's health was rapidly deteriorating, and he advised them to hire a psychiatrist and a personal trainer to help him, according to website RadarOnline.com.

In the email, which was sent to AEG executive Randy Philips, on June 19, 2009, John wrote:

"I have watched him deteriorate in front of my eyes over the last eight weeks.
"My laymen's degree tells me he needs a shrink to get mentally prepared to get on stage and then a trainer to get him in physical shape. He used to do multiple 360 spins back in April. He'd fall on his ass if he tried now."

So that's six people now:

16th June 2009, the show's musical director Michael Bearden warned Kenny Ortega in an email that Michael could not sing and dance at the same time.
19th June 2009 associate producer Alif Sankey warned Kenny Ortega in a 'phone call that Michael might die.
19th June 2009 John Hougdahl emailed Randy Phillips about Michael's declining health.
20th June 2009 Michael's make-up artist Karen Faye contacted his manager Frank Dileo in an email, expressing concerns following Michael's relapse the previous day. She also expressed her concerns to Randy Phillips.
Travis Payne, the choreographer, also expressed his concerns to Kenny Ortega.
Terry Harvey, concert promoter, spoke to Tohme Tohme and Frank Dileo about Michael's frail state.

Yet. Yet. In this article from 27 June 2009, everyone, including Ortega, paints a very different picture:



"Ortega said he had no knowledge of the singer's taking any drugs or medication. He also denied that Jackson had overextended himself by working out four hours a day, six days a week in preparation for the tour.

"He was dancing, training, working every day with our choreographer Travis [Payne]," Ortega said. "Michael has always been slight. That was his fighting weight. He was getting rest time, coming in and working with the band, guiding the singers, working on orchestrations. He was enthusiastically involved in every creative aspect of this production."

Randy Phillips, chief executive of AEG Live, the concert promoter that will forfeit the more than $20 million it put into staging Jackson's comeback, was also at Staples on Wednesday. He recalled Jackson being in ebullient spirits.

"It was fantastic, he was so great. I got goose bumps," Phillips said. "It made me realize why I got into this business.

"I take great solace in the pride and confidence he exhibited during production rehearsals on Wednesday night. That is the memory I will cherish for the rest of my life," Phillips said.

Ken Ehrlich, the longtime executive producer of the Grammy Awards who staged televised performances by Jackson half a dozen times, met with the performer at Staples on Wednesday to discuss a television project. "He was very warm and funny. He was having a good time," Ehrlich said.

After the meeting, the singer invited Ehrlich to stay and watch him rehearse.

The show was still a work in progress, with props that Ehrlich recalled as "looking pretty magical" strewn about the venue's floor.

"What I saw that night was a person who was still in the process of learning the show," Ehrlich said. "I watched Kenny Ortega walk him through some stage directions. I know [Michael's] method, and there's a certain reticence when he's not in full make-up and wardrobe to 'give it.' He would have been ready by the time he got to London."

Ehrlich said Jackson showed his pervasive influence: "The hair on the back of my neck stood up. I wasn't watching Justin Timberlake or Chris Brown or Usher or any of the hundreds of acts that have taken from Michael. The modern inheritors of his art. It was him."

Jackson hired Ed Alonzo -- a concert magician-comedian known as "the Misfit of Magic," who also worked on Britney Spears' "Circus" tour -- to create two set-piece illusions for his London shows. One illusion set to the opening number involved an illuminated sphere that would have floated around the singer's body, flown out above the audience and then landed back in Jackson's hand before immolating in a blaze of light.

Alonzo recalled that the singer arrived at Staples around 6:30 p.m. Wednesday but did not begin rehearsing until 9, complaining -- perhaps facetiously, the magician said -- of laryngitis.

"He looked great and had great energy. He wasn't singing at full level, but it was as beautiful as ever," Alonzo said. "He went from one number to the other. 'Let's do that again.' He wanted to look at props for the 'Thriller' number, a gigantic spider. He was dancing, singing, joking with the crew. If he was having any aches or pains, nobody knew about it that night."

Frank DiLeo, Jackson's manager, said the singer seemed upbeat and ready for the challenges of mounting a comeback that he had hoped would restore his superstardom -- reinstating his cultural relevance, erasing part of his massive debt and finally allowing his three children to understand why fans worldwide herald him as the King of Pop.

"He just told me how happy he was and that things were working out the way he wanted," DiLeo said.
"

In his testimony for Dr Murray's trial in 2011, Ortega says he knew something was wrong with Michael after the 19th June episode. He wrote an email at 2:04 the next morning (after the rehearsal ended) to Randy Phillips about it.
During questioning in 2011, Ortega was asked:

On any occasion, during rehearsals for 'This Is It' did it ever strike you that Michael Jackson might have been on drugs?
Ortega replied "Yes."

I accept that none of the people around Michael at this time could have known that Michael was having Propofol administered to him 5 nights a week. Only the children, Dr Murray and the cleaner were allowed upstairs in Michael's rented home, and Michael asked Murray to clear away all the IV paraphernalia in the morning, before the children woke up. So I accept that people would not know exactly what was affecting Michael. But the truth is they all concealed the fact that they knew he was unwell, until Murray's trial in 2011 - that's two years of these people lying. Having been lied to for two years and then hearing Ortega's testimony was like being stabbed in the heart.
So they did know Michael Jackson was unwell, and they suspected drugs of some kind were involved.