Michael Jackson wrongful death trial: AEG Live CEO describes meeting
LOS ANGELES (KABC) — Randy Phillips, the CEO of AEG Live, returned to the witness stand Monday for some tough questioning as the Michael Jackson wrongful death trial entered its seventh week.
A tense meeting at the rented home of Michael Jackson was described in court. Jackson had been missing rehearsals, so the face to face meeting included Phillips, Jackson, his doctor Conrad Murray, and the show’s director, Kenny Ortega.
Katherine Jackson accuses the tour promoter of ignoring warning signs and hiring Murray, whose intravenous insomnia treatments led to Jackson’s death. The meeting was prompted by concern, Phillips testified. They wanted to find out what was wrong with Jackson and what could be done.
Phillips, a hostile witness called by the Jackson attorneys, was persistently prodded to provide details about the meeting and a series of emails that preceded it. The subject line of the email said: “trouble on the Front.”
Ortega wrote to Phillips: “I honestly don’t think he is ready for this based on the continued physical weakening and deepening emotional state.”
Phillips wrote: “It is time. Enough alarms have sounded. It is time to put out the fire, not burn the building down.”
On the stand, Phillips said burning the building down would be canceling the tour. In another email, Phillips said Murray said Jackson “was physically equipped to perform and that discouraging him will hasten his decline instead of stopping it.”
Jackson attorney Brian Panish seized on the word “decline,” asking, “If you are hastening a decline, isn’t’ he already in a decline?”
Phillips answered, “No that means there was an issue. I didn’t know what the issue was.”
The lawsuit accuses AEG of pressuring Murray to do whatever it took to get Jackson on stage or AEG would not pay the doctor. AEG denies hiring the doctor or knowing about his insomnia therapy.
Regarding the outcome of the meeting, Phillips testified Jackson was great in the following days and that Jackson had two of the best rehearsals after that. The plaintiffs point out the time frame, saying Jackson died the day after that final rehearsal.
After the jurors left the courtroom Monday, the judge told Phillips to answer questions without arguing and that his demeanor might be hurting the case. Phillips has been sparring with Jackson’s attorney throughout his testimony.
Paris Jackson suicide attempt: 911 call released
LOS ANGELES (KABC) — The Los Angeles County Fire Department on Tuesday released audio of the emergency call made after Paris Jackson’s apparent suicide attempt last week.
Michael Jackson’s daughter was rushed to the hospital around 1:30 a.m. on June 5. The call described the need for paramedics because a 15-year-old girl had taken 20 Motrin pills and cut herself with a kitchen knife.
During the emergency call, which lasted about a minute, the teen was described as conscious and breathing. The call was between a fire department dispatcher and a sheriff’s department dispatcher, who was relaying information from the Calabasas home.
Paris’ family told Eyewitness News that the teenager is physically fine and receiving appropriate medical treatment.
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Mitchell Beckloff, who oversees the guardianship of Paris and her brothers, Prince and Blanket, has ordered an investigation into Paris’ health and well-being.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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TMZ has obtained the emergency call made from the Lost Hills Sheriff’s Dept. to the L.A. County Fire Dept. on June 5 … reporting that Paris Jackson had “OD’d on 20 Motrin and cut her arm with a kitchen knife.”
During the call, the Sheriff’s Dept. tells Fire that Paris is “awake and breathing.”
The Fire Dept. also asks the Sheriff’s Dept. if they want Fire to “stage” — which is shop talk for “waiting” until the Sheriff’s Dept. deems the situation safe to enter.
The Sheriff’s Dept. told Fire they didn’t have to “stage” because it was not a dangerous situation.
The call was made after Paris herself contacted a suicide hotline.
We broke the story … Paris was taken from the family’s Calabasas home by stretcher at around 2 AM on June 5 … and an ambulance rushed her to a nearby hospital.
She was placed on an involuntary psychiatric hold for 72 hours at Children’s Hospital in L.A. She was moved Sunday to the UCLA medical center for further psychiatric evaluation … the same place her father died 4 years ago this month.
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AEG gets its turn to question CEO Randy Phillips
LOS ANGELES (KABC) — It was Michael Jackson who wanted a comeback tour, and it was the pop star’s manager who approached AEG to make it happen, AEG Live President Randy Phillips testified Tuesday during the Jackson family’s wrongful death trial.
Phillips was rebutting allegations that AEG pressured Jackson to perform beyond the artist’s limits. For the first time in five days, Philliips got his turn to tell his story with the AEG defense team asking the questions.
Phillips testified that dealing with Jackson was challenging and that the artist was mercurial. It was one of the things that made him great, Phillips told the jury. But he said it also made Jackson difficult, because the singer would change his mind and change his representatives like people change socks.
Defense attorney Marvin Putnam asked Phillips if he could demand who managed Jackson or if he could dictate who Jackson worked with. Phillips answered no to both.
A cornerstone of the negligence lawsuit filed by Katherine Jackson is that AEG allegedly hired Conrad Murray, the physician who administered a surgical sedative to Jackson to help him sleep. Jackson died from an overdose in June 2009.
AEG Live says that as the tour producer, the company was advancing Jackson the money he needed to stage the series of 50 concerts and that Jackson selected Murray as his personal physician.
The plaintiffs have portrayed AEG as money hungry, trying to recover its losses when Jackson died.
Earlier in the day, Jackson lawyer Brian Panish showed the jury an email from Phillips that said, in part, “Michael Jackson’s death was a tragedy. Life must go on. AEG will make a fortune from merchandise sales, ticket retention, the touring exhibition and the film/DVD. I still wish he was here.”
In a later email, Phillips stated that profits from the sales would go to Jackson’s mother, children and charities.
About pressuring Jackson to perform, Phillips noted that Jackson died before he had performed a single show.
Meantime, there’s a twist in the Jackson lawsuit. While Katherine Jackson is suing AEG, Michael Jackson’s siblings are doing business with the company. The Jacksons are set to perform at a BET festival later this month.
Randy Phillips: He’s president of AEG Live, the concert promoter that contracted with Michael Jackson for his “This Is It” comeback shows set to start in London in July 2009. The Jackson lawsuit says Phillips supervised Dr. Conrad Murray’s treatment of Jackson in the weeks before his death, making the company liable for damages. E-mails between Phillips and other executives showed they were worried about Jackson’s missed rehearsals and sought Murray’s help getting him ready.