LOS ANGELES (KABC) — It’s been a grueling week for AEG executive Paul Gongaware. He spent four days on the witness stand in the Michael Jackson wrongful death trial, with attorneys for the plaintiff trying to find out how much he knew about Jackson’s health and drug use.
“This Is It” is the name Jackson chose for his tour and it was Jackson who solicited AEG to stage it, according to one of the Gongaware.
The defendant testified about meetings leading to the sold-out concert. Jackson said he wanted to make money, and stressed that many times.
The jury is hearing Gongaware’s side of the story for the first time as AEG defense attorneys get their turn to ask questions.
About the “Dangerous” Tour, which Jackson cancelled in 1993, Gongaware said he didn’t travel with the star and knew nothing about any drug problem until an announcement from Jackson himself.
“My friends and doctors advised me to seek professional guidance immediately in order to eliminate what has become an addiction,” Jackson said in 1993.
Four years later, during the “HIStory” Tour, Gongaware testified, Jackson was good and exhibited no sign of prescription drug abuse. The same in 2007 and 2008, he said. Jackson was fascinated with King Tut and wanted to make a miniseries.
Another meeting was about Neverland, Jackson’s California ranch. Jackson’s manager was in talks about an exhibit that would save it from foreclosure.
Gongaware testified that in 2009, Jackson had a proposal for a final concert tour. The deal, signed at his Holmby Hills rental property, was for 31 shows to be staged at the London O2 arena.
That was an ambitious schedule, testified Gongaware. But the artist Prince had done 21. Gongaware said Jackson wanted to do 10 more.
Gongaware testified that in the months before Jackson’s death, Jackson appeared excited, engaged and healthy.
AEG is accused of hiring Doctor Conrad Murray, whose treatments with a surgical sedative led to Jackson’s death. The Jackson family attorneys say Jackson sought the treatment because of excessive pressure from AEG.
“They put the fuel into the rocket, and then it took off, and he went downhill, and they knew that and took no action,” said Jackson family attorney Brian Panish.
Gongaware continues on the stand next week. The Jackson attorney tells Eyewitness News they may need four more weeks to continue their case before the defense takes over.