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Performers ‘This Is It’ Were Urged To Avoid Saying Michael Looked ‘Emaciated’. 31-05-'13

This Is ItTwo weeks after Michael Jackson’s death, the performers on his ‘This Is It’ concert series were urged to avoid saying he looked “emaciated” before his overdose, a concert exec grudgingly testified Thursday.

Paul Gongaware made the request in an email shown to jurors during his testimony. “We are ok with the band, singers and dancers doing interviews now. The only thing we ask is that they keep it positive and stress that MJ was active, engaged and not the emaciated person some want to paint him as being,” the July 9, 2009, email to music coordinator JoAnn Tominaga read.

“You’re telling them what not to say, aren’t you sir?” Katherine’s lawyer Brian Panish asked Gongaware. “I’m asking them to keep it positive,” Gongaware replied from the witness stand.
“And not say he was emaciated,” Panish shot back. “Yes …we did ask them to keep it positive,” Gongaware said.

“So you were controlling the message as a producer of that documentary,” Panish said, referring to the follow-up ‘This Is It’ movie that included taped interviews. “I don’t think so,” Gongaware replied.

Panish also grilled Gongaware over an email sent by his boss Randy Phillips a month later asking him to scrap footage of Michael that made him look ill. “Make sure we take out the shots of MJ in the red leather jacket at the sound stage where the mini movies were being filmed. He looks way too think (sic) and skeletal,” read the Aug. 9 email, previously mentioned during the trial.

Gongaware promised in a follow-up email to Phillips that he’d “have a look,” but he testified Thursday that he never dumped any footage. “We didn’t keep anything out based on what Randy wrote,” Gogaware told jurors.

Earlier Thursday, Gongaware confirmed he received an email from ‘This Is It’ tour production manager John Hougdahl “joking” that the skinny singer needed junk food and beer to gain some much-needed weight. “He needs some burgers with a bunch of Wisconsin cheese head bowlers…and a couple of brats and beers,” read the June 15, 2009, email projected on a screen for jurors.

“Was he joking around about this situation?” Panish asked Gongaware, referring to Hougdahl. “I think he was,” Gongaware replied. “Did you think that was funny?” Panish asked. “I did,” Gongaware admitted.

Gongaware said he once observed Michael looking “slow” and possibly intoxicated after a visit to his dermatologist but he didn’t believe Michael had any serious health problems — even after MJ appeared weak and disoriented at a June 19 rehearsal. “My observation of Michael Jackson was that he was healthy,” Gongaware said. “They had a meeting to discuss (the June 19 incident), and he took a couple days off and he came back strong.”

Source: NY Daily News / Billie Jean

Plane Flies Near AEG Live Office With Message: ‘Follow The $ To Michael Jackson’s Death’.

A small plane was circling around Miracle Mile area office buildings in Los Angeles on Thursday with a banner that read “FOLLOW THE $ TO MICHAEL JACKSON’S DEATH.”

The timing of the flight arrives as Jackson’s family is embroiled in a wrongful death lawsuit against concert promoter AEG Live.

The plane was visible from The Hollywood Reporter’s offices on 5700 Wilshire Blvd. AEG Live’s offices are located at 5750 Wilshire Blvd.

This doesn’t appear to be the plane’s first flight with the message. An airplane had previously been spotted flying above the coast of Santa Monica on Tuesday with the same banner trailing behind.

Earlier this month, an L.A. Times writer noted on Twitter that an airplane with the same message had flown “near” the Times building.

Plane Flies

Source: The Hollywood Reporter / Billie Jean

Michael Jackson Asked AEG Producers “You Aren’t Going To Kill The Artist, Are You?” 30-05-'13

Michael JacksonMichael Jackson made a haunting remark about his mortality after watching some stage pyrotechnics for his doomed ‘This Is It’ tour less than a week before his death, a jury heard Wednesday.

“You aren’t going to kill the artist, are you?” Michael 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” Hougdahl relayed the quote to his boss Randy Phillips, the CEO of concert giant AEG Live, as part of an explanation of Michael’s sick and disoriented demeanor at the June 19 rehearsal in Los Angeles. Hougdahl said he assumed the comment was a passing reference to the pyrotechnics, but he also said show director Kenny Ortega later observed Jackson 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,” Hougdahl 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.”

The email was one of several in a dramatic chain that lawyers for Katherine Jackson used to grill AEG Live’s co-CEO Paul Gongaware in the matriarch’s ongoing negligence lawsuit against the No. 2 concert promoter.

Katherine’s lawyer Brian Panish said outside court that he thought the Hougdahl 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 Hougdahl believed Michael was making a joke at the time. Michael Jackson wasn’t afraid of the pyrotechnics. He wanted them,” AEG lawyer Marvin Putnam stated.

Source: NY Daily News / Billie Jean

From The Estate Of Michael Jackson – About MJ One Illusion/Hologram. 30-05-'13

The Estate Of Michael Jackson“We are happy to have had so many of Michael’s fans at the dress rehearsals and initial public previews of Michael Jackson ONE. As the show continues to evolve, heading toward the June 29 world premiere, we are thrilled to let you know that the audience reaction has been wildly enthusiastic!

Michael Jackson ONE is the ultimate loving tribute from a team that is passionate about honoring Michael’s artistry and messages of love, kindness and unity that are as relevant and powerful today as ever. Throughout the adventure on stage, the audience is treated to larger than life images of Michael displayed on 180° screens with many emotional and climatic moments – for both the cast and the audience. One of these moments comes in the form of an illusion that brings Michael’s spirit to the stage itself to interact with the cast during “Man In The Mirror” -‐ an illusion that allows everyone to feel Michael’s energy as it is being shared with those on the stage and then throughout the theater. It serves to remind us that Michael remains on this journey in all of our hearts.

Stage shows have always used technology to create illusions that entertain in new and different ways – from the magician sawing a woman in half to the illusionist that makes a building disappear. All are intended to create the ultimate experience for the audience. Michael is unique and technology can never duplicate such an amazing artist, which is why this illusion aims only to evoke the incredible energy and spirit of a special man in a way that will enhance rather than compete with the image of him each of us continues to carry with us. As the name of the show conveys and as we all know, there is only “ONE” Michael Jackson.

The ultimate goal with this show is to entertain on a grand scale and to bring new Michael Jackson fans to the community.”

Source: The Estate Of Michael Jackson / Billie Jean

Bad 25 DVD CoverBad 25 DVD/Blue Ray Finally Available To Pre-Order At MJ.com! 30-05-'13

Twenty-five years after Michael Jackson’s visionary Bad album and tour left an indelible mark on pop culture, BAD25 takes you back inside the recording sessions, film shoots and sold-out stadiums for an intimate look at the King of Pop’s creative genius.

Poignant and candid, Spike Lee directed a documentary that goes beyond paying homage to the record-setting album featuring such iconic songs as “Bad” and “Man In the Mirror.” Using never-seen footage and candid interviews with subjects ranging from Martin Scorsese to Kanye West, Lee chronicles what became not only a watershed moment in Michael Jackson’s growth as an artist but in popular music as well.

The New York Times called BAD25 “filled with oh-wow moments,” while Time lauded the film as “an intimate view of a performer at his peak in the intense splendor of creativity.”


BAD Beginnings

I Just Can’t Stop Loving You

The Album Recording Process

The Way You Make Me Feel

Speed Demon

Liberian Girl

Just Good Friends

Another Part Of Me

Dirty Diana

Smooth Criminal

Leave Me Alone

BAD World Tour

Man In The Mirror

Man In The Mirror – Live Performance (BAD World Tour- Wembley Stadium, July 16, 1988)


Pre-Order here.

Source: MichaelJackson.com / Billie Jean

Promoter Grilled About 'Smoking Gun' E-mail In Michael Jackson Death Trial. 30-05-'13

Paul GongawareThe phrase most spoken by AEG Live's co-CEO during his testimony in the Michael Jackson wrongful death trial was: "I don't recall."

Paul Gongaware, who was in charge of producing and promoting Jackson's ill-fated comeback concerts, testified this week that he couldn't remember sending key e-mails or approving budgets that included $150,000 a month for Dr. Conrad Murray.

Gongaware also denied thinking that Jackson's health was frail in the last days of his life, despite e-mails from others in the production suggesting the singer needed help.

Jackson's mother and three children are suing AEG Live, contending the concert promoter is liable in the pop icon's death because it negligently hired, retained or supervised Murray.

AEG's lawyers argue it was Jackson who chose, hired and supervised Murray -- and their company only dealt with Murray because Jackson demanded they pay for him to be his "This Is It" tour doctor.

Murray was convicted of involuntary manslaughter in Jackson's drug overdose death and he is serving a prison sentence.

Gongaware seemed to dance around some questions like Jackson doing a "Moonwalk," including when he explained an e-mail to his boss' assistant in which he said he was having nightmares and cold sweats about the concerts.

It was not an admission that he was concerned about Jackson's ability to do the show, he said. "It was just playing around, joking," with AEG President Tim Leiweke's assistant, Carla Garcia, he testified.

"Carla is an absolute babe and I was just chatting her up," he said.

While that testimony drew laughter in the court, it was unclear how jurors and the female judge viewed it, because Gongaware also acknowledged his girlfriend worked at AEG.

Gongaware's repetition of "I don't recall" several dozen times under questioning by Jackson lawyer Brian Panish eventually drew laughs from jurors, including when Panish began answering for him with that phrase.

Source: CNN / Billie Jean

Wade Robson Lawyers Are Threatening Michael’s Father, Joe Jackson. 28-05-'13

Wade RobsonWade Robson is suing the Michael Jackson Estate and several of his companies over allegations Michael abused him as a young boy, his decision to go public has angered members of the Jackson family, including his father Joe Jackson, who cast doubt on the choreographer’s claim in a video recently posted on Tmz.com.

Robson’s lawyers have now fired off a cease and desist letter to Joe Jackson, accusing him of slander for the comments he made in the clip.

In documents obtained by editors at Tmz, Robson’s lawyers write, “Your statement is particularly reprehensible in light of the fact that (Robson) has only recently been able to come forward which is so typically characteristic and tragic for so many survivors of sexual abuse… Any trier of fact would conclude your statement was malicious, intended to further injure our client.”

The attorneys go on to threaten Joe Jackson with legal action over his remarks.

Source: TMZ / Billie Jean

Paul GongawareElvis' Connection To MJ's Death Enters Trial. 28-05-'13

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

Gongaware, who was one of the top producers of Jackson's comeback concerts, takes the stand as the Michael Jackson wrongful death trial enters its fifth week in a Los Angeles courtroom.

Jackson's mother and children are suing AEG Live for liability in the pop icon's death, accusing the concert promoter of negligently hiring, retaining or supervising Dr. Conrad Murray, the physician convicted of involuntary manslaughter.

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

Michael and Elvis

The Elvis connection:

Elvis' name is expected to come up as Jackson's lawyers question Gongaware about his knowledge of drug use during concert tours. He should have been able to recognize red flags warning about Jackson's drug use because of his experience with Presley and his time as Jackson's tour manager in the 1990s, they contend.

When Gongaware was managing Jackson's 1993 tour he warned the tour doctor "Don't be a Dr. Nick" -- a reference to Elvis 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 the age of 42. While his death was ruled the result of an irregular heartbeat, the autopsy report was sealed amid accusations that abuse of prescription drugs caused the problem.

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

Jackson died on June 25, 2009, at the age of 50. The coroner ruled his death was caused by a fatal combination of sedatives and the surgical anesthetic propofol. Murray told investigators he gave Jackson nightly infusions of propofol to treat his insomnia. He was convicted of involuntary manslaughter, sentenced to four years in prison and stripped of his medical license.

Source: CNN / Billie Jean

Michael Jackson's 'Thriller' The Hit Pick In Our Top 100 Music Videos. 28-05-'13

FORGET the cheesy script and horror movie stereotyping – Michael Jackson’s Thriller remains the most popular clip of all time according to our Top 100 Music Videos poll.

The seminal zombie choreography continues to wow fans despite the YouTube juggernaut that is Psy's Gangnam Style.

Music fans just don't see the South Korean pop culture phenomenon standing the test of time as Thriller has done as it nears its 30th birthday in December.

Psy and his Gangnam Style moves won't last as long as Michael Jackson's Thriller.

"Michael Jackson's Thriller is best by a long margin. In 2 years time we'll be saying 'Psy? Who was he again? You know...the Korean guy who did the funny little hoppy dance thing?' Yeah. Forgot about him," writes Redcliffe's Tea and Symphony.

Thriller Video

As of this morning, the most rated videos per genre were:

Games changers - Thriller, Michael Jackson

Deal breakers - Bohemian Rhapsody, Queen

Pop - Take On Me, A-Ha

Rock - Bohemian Rhapsody, Queen

Featuring - Weapons of Choice, Fatboy Slim

Controversy - If I Could Turn Back Time, Cher

Urban - U Can't Touch This, MC Hammer

Performance - Bittersweet Symphony, The verve

Novelty - I Want to Break Free, Queen

Choreography - Thriller, Michael Jackson

Australian - Somebody That I Used to Know, Gotye featuring Kimbra

MTV Generation - Video Killed the Radio Star, The Buggles

Source: Herald Sun / Billie Jean

Unique Honour For 'Amazing' Gavin And Millie. 27-05-'13

TWO Limerick children who Michael Jackson was desperate to meet after they suffered devastating injuries arising from a petrol bomb attack have been honoured in a unique ceremony and given “a special place in his heart”.

Millie and Gavin Murray, the victims of a horrific petrol bomb attack in Moyross in 2006, have received the final dot in a special tribute portrait by the Los Angeles-based artist David Ilan in Dublin on Saturday.

The artist, who paints celebrities for a living, travelled to Dublin at the weekend to finish the portrait, which began four years ago and has seen millions of fans worldwide participate in the project. Some of the world’s most famous stars have placed a dot in the portrait of the late singer, including Diana Ross, Maya Angelou and Michael’s brother Jermaine.

David told the Limerick Leader that the ceremony, which took place in the offices of Jackson’s Irish plastic surgeon, Dr Patrick Treacy, was a “small, private and intimate” event, to which the media were not permitted.

Gavin and Millie

“It was very special and meaningful. We just wanted it to be low-key and respectful. I didn’t know anything about the Murray children before, but when we heard about them we knew they were the right people.

“They received the very last dot from all the millions that have been placed on the portrait,” he told this newspaper.

While living in Ireland for six months in 2006, Jackson had learned of the fate of the Murray children and wanted to meet them in person.

However, Dr Treacy advised the singer against this, due to the scandal he was embroiled in at the time. He said Jackson repeatedly asked about how the children were and cried for them.

At the ceremony, the Murray children received cards and gifts from fans all over the world, including special Neverland mementos collected over the years.

In a statement released worldwide, the tribute group added: “After four years and tremendous dedication in the effort to complete the project, the last two dots were given to Millie and Gavin Murray of Limerick, Ireland.”

“All the dots in Michael’s heart represent family, friends, colleagues, and others who were dear to Michael. Millie and Gavin are two amazing kids who went through a horrible tragedy several years ago when the car they were riding in was firebombed. Michael Jackson devoted his life to supporting children like Millie and Gavin.”

Dr Treacy, medical director of Ailesbury Clinics, serves as honorary ambassador for Everland Children’s Home, an orphanage in Liberia, which was also represented by a dot in the Michael Jackson tribute portrait.

Dr Treacy told the Limerick Leader that this was a “unique event, which had an almost sacred feel to it.”

He said many fans of the singer shared their own stories about meeting Jackson, and how he had touched their lives in a positive way.

“One Irish girl who is wheelchair bound and paralysed spoke of Jackson touching her arm and telling her that she’d feel movement in it again. That night she felt electricity in her arm and has been able to move it ever since,” he said.

Source: Limerick Today / Billie Jean

The Immortal World Tour Coming To Australia In September And October. 26-05-'13

The Immortal World TourCirque du Soleil is rewriting HIStory with ‘Michael Jackson: The Immortal World Tour’, an arena-sized tribute to the enduring pop icon coming to Australia in September. Acrobats, contortionists, dancers and musicians interpret more than 35 of Michael’s songs in the spectacular stage show.

Michael never did anything by halves. Cirque has a similarly healthy enthusiasm for jaw-dropping production values – which explains why four jumbo jets are required to carry the cast, crew, costumes and props across the ocean. (In Europe, the production travelled in 38 trucks.)

The Immortal World Tour, which premiered in Montreal in October 2011, even carries its own washing machines and driers to take proper care of more than 250 costumes that are worn during the show (the dancers have as many as eight changes.)

Among the props that must be squeezed into aircraft cargo holds is a giant, 1.8m white spangled glove and a pair of 2.4m-long penny loafers.

At the core of the show, however, is Jackson’s music — Cirque has unprecedented access to Michael’s master tapes in a special partnership with Sony and the Michael Jackson Estate.

More than 35 songs — including Dangerous, Thriller, Beat It, They Don’t Care About Us, Man In the Mirror, Don’t Stop Till You Get Enough and Billie Jean — are re-imagined during the course of the hit show, which will travel to Perth, Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne in a four-week Australian tour. Tickets go on sale through ticketek on Friday, 10am May 31.

The stripped-back vocal track is so pristine, you can hear Michael snap his fingers and stomp his feet. “In a way, it’s like we actually have Michael with us on every song,” says audio programmer Greg Rule.

Where and when can you see it?

PERTH, Perth Arena, September 18-22
SYDNEY, Allphones Arena, September 26-29
BRISBANE’ Brisbane Entertainment Centre October 2-6
MELBOURNE, Rod Laver Arena, October 10-13

Source: Cirque Du Soleil / Billie Jean

Michael Jackson Needed Shrink For Shows, Says Stage Boss. 25-05-'13

A stage manager helping to prepare Michael Jackson's ill-fated comeback shows warned organisers the THRILLER legend would need psychiatric help to perform and said he would "fall on his a**" if he tried his trademark dance moves.

Jackson was preparing to undergo a grueling 50-night run at London's O2 Arena in 2009 but died from an accidental drug overdose just weeks before the concerts were scheduled to begin.

His mother Katherine is pursuing a wrongful death lawsuit against bosses of AEG Live, alleging her son was not in a fit condition to undertake the run of concerts, and lawyers have produced an email showing there were concerns the pop superstar could not even perform his legendary dance routines.

Stage manager John Hougdahl revealed Jackson physically deteriorated "in front of my eyes" during eight weeks of rehearsals, and was in such poor shape mentally and physically that he would need a psychiatrist and a personal trainer in order to go through with the gigs.

In the email, read to jurors at the Los Angeles court hearing, Hougdahl 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 a** if he tried now."

Source: Daily Star / Billie Jean

MJ HologramMichael Jackson’s Hologram Rocks Las Vegas Arena. 24-05-'13

It only seems fitting that Michael Jackson, the man who brought the world “Thriller,” was resurrected on a Las Vegas stage late Thursday night—in the form of a hologram.

The moment occurred toward the end of the first public performance of Michael Jackson ONE, a joint venture between Cirque du Soleil and Jackson’s estate. The singer’s apparition materialized from a cloud of gold pixie dust and proceeded to deliver a rousing rendition of “Man In The Mirror.”

Throughout the song, Jackson’s hologram stomps around the stage as a coterie of backup dancers swirl around him, moving in unison like a school of fish with one illusory leader. The phantom Jackson even executes a move that involves dropping to one knee and getting back up; he’s briefly transformed into a Jackson 5 era version of himself before evaporating at the song’s end.

When Jackson first appeared onstage, you could feel a swell of energy ripple through the sellout crowd at Mandalay Bay. It wasn’t accompanied by the volume level of some of the show’s other big moments, almost as if the audience was holding its collective breath to keep from shattering the fleeting sliver of hope that this was not an illusion, but the King of Pop himself.

Source: Forbes / Billie Jean

Paintings By Michael Jackson's Chimp Bubbles Sell For £2,000 At Auction. 24-05-'13

The 27-year-old primate painted two colourful abstracts which raised £2,000 towards his £13,000 annual care bill.

As the King of Pop’s beloved pet, Bubbles had a brush with life in the lap of luxury.

Now Michael Jackson’s chimp has to use a brush to help pay for his upkeep after being abandoned by the late singer’s family.

The 27-year-old primate painted two colourful abstracts which raised £2,000 at auction towards his £13,000 annual care bill.

Patti Ragan, of the Center for Great Apes, said: “To take all our apes to the ends of their lives will cost £25million. We need help.”

Bubbles was doted on by the Bad singer, who adopted him in 1983. He was trained to Moonwalk and met star pals like Brooke Shields.

The Mirror revealed this year that the Jackson family hasn’t donated anything to his upkeep in Wauchula, Florida, since Michael’s death in 2009.

As well as selling his art, Ms Ragan is appealing for Jackson fans to donate £100 a year each to help them look after Bubbles, who could live to around 60 years old.

Donor Scott Ponoroff said: “It’s a disgrace. If Michael’s own brothers and sisters aren’t giving money then I guess it’s up to the fans.”

Bubbles Paintings

Source: Mirror.co / Billie Jean

Shawn TrellInsurers 'Feared' MJ Had Cazncer And Other Diseases. 23-05-'13

A top executive has revealed that concert promoters were unable to buy insurance coverage for Michael Jackson, as the firms feared that he was suffering from cancer and other diseases.

Shawn Trell, AEG Live's general counsel, told jurors that insurance companies had concerns about Michael's health but were unaware that he was suffering from insomnia and was using intravenous anaesthetics to go to sleep, the New York Post reported.

An e-mail - sent on June 25, 2009, hours before Michael died in his rented LA mansion - from British insurance broker Bob Taylor was also shown to jurors, which read "The insurers have specifically requested information in the following: press reports the artist is at various times using a wheelchair...suffering a back injury... Lupus ... cancer ...cosmetic procedures... lung infection... emphysema ... chronic gastrointestinal bleeding."

Trell confirmed that the e-mail didn't mention insomnia or drug use, which in actuality were the conditions that caused Michael to become so emaciated that he could barely perform or show up to rehearsals.

He said that AEG had a 17.5 million dollars "non-appearance" policy on Michael should he have failed to perform in the first 13 of his 50 shows at London's O2 Arena.

But the insurers just couldn't cover illness until Michael was examined in London by a doctor selected by them.

Source: ANI / Billie Jean

Shawn TrellTop AEG Attorney Called Michael Jackson 'The Freak' In Email. 23-05-'13

Hours before Anschutz Entertainment Group executives were heading to Michael Jackson’s Holmby Hills home to sign multimillion-dollar contracts for his concert series in London, the firm’s top lawyer called Jackson “the freak” in an email to another company attorney.

The revelation, which came during the last 15 minutes of court Wednesday, enlivened the day’s testimony in the wrongful death suit that Michael Jackson’s mother and children have filed against AEG.

The email was shown to the jury during the testimony of Shawn Trell, general counsel for AEG Live, who has been on the witness stand for three days.

Trell’s questioning began with Jackson attorney Brian Panish asking the lawyer about his visit to the singer’s house to sign the contracts, the only time he met Jackson. “It was exciting to meet Michael Jackson,” he said.

Panish began to built toward a climax, asking Trell if it were company policy to speak in derogatory terms about an artist they were about to sign a huge deal with. “I may not have necessarily agreed with some of the life choices Michael Jackson made but I certainly had enormous respect for him as an entertainer,” Trell said.

Then Panish gave the jury a foreshadowing of what was to come. He asked Trell, “Did Mr. Fikre say to you that Michael Jackson was a freak?” a reference to Ted Fikre chief legal and development officer and a member of the board of parent company AEG, before slowly unraveling the emails.

The email chain starts Jan 28, 2009, with AEG Live executive Paul Gongaware writing Randy Phillips, president and chief executive of AEG Live, “MJ still on today?”

Phillips emails back. “Yes. 5 p.m. 100 Carolwood Dr. You and Shawn should be there,” referring to Trell.

Trell forwarded the email to Fikre, who replied two minutes later, “Does this mean you get to meet the freak?”

Trell replies, “Apparently. Not sure how I feel about that. Interesting for sure, but kind of creepy.”

Panish then scolded Trell as he sat in the witness box. “Didn’t your mother ever tell you if you don’t have anything good to say about someone not to say it?”

Asked outside court about the email, Jessica Stebbins Bina, an attorney representing AEG, replied, “I think it speaks for itself.”

The Jacksons are suing AEG, saying that the company negligently hired and supervised Dr. Conrad Murray, who administered the fatal dose of propofol to Jackson in June 2009. AEG says that Jackson hired Murray and that any money the entertainment company was supposed to pay the doctor was an advance to the singer.

Source: LA Times / Billie Jean

Sweet Controversy At Michael Jackson Death Trial. 22-05-'13

Every issue in the Michael Jackson wrongful death trial is so disputed that even giving candy to jurors caused an argument.

AEG lawyers gave a bag of peppermint candy to the bailiff to hand out to the jury this week. Even Katherine Jackson -- the pop icon's mother -- enjoyed the treat.

But Jackson's lawyer raised an objection Tuesday afternoon, suggesting jurors might be influenced if they realized the source of the sweets.

A compromise was reached. Each side can provide snacks for jurors, but they'll be placed at the bailiff's desk before jurors enter court so they have no clue who brought it.
While the candy controversy might seem trivial, the stakes are high for AEG Live. The promoter and producer of Michael Jackson's comeback concerts could be found liable for billions of dollars in damages if the jury decides the company is responsible for the star's death.

Source: CNN / Billie Jean

Shawn TrellAEG Execs Face Questions About Jackson's Death. 21-05-'13

Jackson's mother and three children are suing AEG Live for the negligent hiring, retention or supervision of Dr. Conrad Murray, the physician convicted of involuntary manslaughter in Jackson's death.

The candy argument may be the most interesting thing about Tuesday's proceedings, unless you are a student of employment law and budgeting.

AEG Live Senior Vice President/General Counsel Shawn Trell was on the stand for a second day hoping to give testimony that would convince the jury that Murray was chosen, hired and supervised by Jackson -- not his company.

Murray never had an executed contract with AEG Live, although one had been negotiated. The doctor signed it and returned it to the company on June 24, 2009, but the AEG Live executive decided not to sign it after Jackson died the next day.
Jackson lawyers contend Murray was already on the job, working under an oral agreement confirmed by a series of e-mails that promised him $150,000 a month to be Jackson's full-time physician.

With Trell on the stand, Jackson lawyer Brian Panish played part of an interview that AEG Live President Randy Phillips gave to Sky News television soon after Jackson's death.

"This guy was willing to leave his practice for a very large sum of money, so we hired him," Phillips said.

Panish also showed jurors an e-mail between AEG lawyers suggesting that Phillips told other interviewers AEG Live "hired" Murray.

Source: CNN / Billie Jean

Shawn TrellNo Background Check Done On MJ's Doctor, Says Lawyer. 22-05-'13

A corporate attorney has said that AEG Live LLC did not conduct any background checks on Dr. Conrad Murray, who has been convicted of killing Michael Jackson.

Jurors were told by AEG Live General Counsel Shawn Trell that no legal or financial checks were done involving Murray or anyone else who worked as an independent contractor on the 'This Is It' shows, Fox News reported.

He said that a background check would have been appropriate for people working in financial roles but not tour personnel who weren't employees of AEG.

Michael's mother Katherine has sued AEG claiming that it failed to properly investigate Murray, who was deep in debt when he agreed to become Michael's tour physician in 2009 for 150,000 dollars-a-month.

Status of Murray's employment is a central issue in the case, as the Jackson matriarch Katherine's lawyers contend that he had been hired by AEG, but the company has been in denial about hiring them and notes that Michael died before signing the doctor's contract.

Trell also acknowledged that numerous people in the company knew of concerns that Michael's health had been in decline.

Source: ANI / Billie Jean

The Estate Of Michael JacksonMJ's Estate Mints $600 Million Since His Death. 21-05-'13

Late King of Pop Michael Jackson's estate has made $600 million since his death in 2009. It is more money than the "Thriller" star ever minted while he was alive.

The money primarily came from ticket sales. His posthumous sales are believed to amount to more than any single living artist during the same period, reports independent.co.uk.

Contributing factors include ticket sales for Cirque du Soleil's "Michael Jackson's One" and profits from the film of Jackson's concert performances "This Is It", according to US documentary "Michael Jackson 60 Minutes".

"Worldwide box office now is over $300 million. And Michael has almost 60 million Facebook friends. He's the biggest selling artist on iTunes and he's sold approximately 50 million albums since he passed away," John Branca, a co-executor on Jackson's will, told US TV channel CBS.

Jackson had debts of approximately $500 million before he died in June 2009 after an overdose of prescription drugs, termed "acute propofol intoxication".

A Forbes reporter, who has covered Jackson's estate in depth, said: "He never stopped spending like it was the 1980s
… he was making 50, 60, 80, over 100 million dollars into the 1990s."

"But after the first charge of assault in 1993, he became radioactive. He didn't tour again in the US, brands dropped him from their commercials and the upkeep of Neverland really added up. Since Michael Jackson, died the estate has taken over $600 million in four years, and that's more than any single living artist made over that period of time."

As stated in Jackson's will, he intended 20 percent of his estate to go to charity, 40 percent to his children and 40 percent to go to his mother as long as she was alive.

"The whole objective of Michael's estate plan is to take care of his mother during her lifetime and to accumulate the principle and assets for the benefit of Michael's children," said Branca.

Prince Michael, Paris and Michael Jr are also entitled to sell Jackson's possessions, which currently sit in five warehouses, when they come of age.

The possessions include Jackson's 30-year car collection, antiques and videogames from the Neverland Ranch and the black sequined jacket he wore in the video for "Billie Jean".

Source: IANS / Billie Jean

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