Concert Promoter's Emails Show Michael Jackson Wasn't Well
Emails unearthed in an insurance lawsuit involving the Michael Jackson estate show that Jackson's concert promoter, AEG, was aware of serious problems surrounding the superstar.
The insurers of the proposed Jackson's concerts, 'This Is It," claim that AEG gave them false information about Jackson's health and ability to perform.
If Jackson were unable to perform, then the insurers would have to pay AEG millions of dollars.
Additionally, Michael Jackson's heirs have filed a wrongful-death suit that accuses AEG of pressuring Jackson to perform even though he was not able.
Lawyers for AEG said the emails published by the Los Angeles Times were incomplete and intentionally leaked to portray the company badly.
The Los Angeles Times Reports:
The scene in Michael Jackson's London hotel suite left Randy Phillips in a panic. Phillips was one of the world's most powerful music promoters and used to rock 'n' roll chaos, but the star's condition still floored him.
"MJ is locked in his room drunk and despondent," Phillips said in an email to his boss at Anschutz Entertainment Group, the Los Angeles company staking a fortune on the singer. "I [am] trying to sober him up."
Across the Atlantic, where it was still early morning, AEG President Tim Leiweke read the message and fired back on his BlackBerry: "Are you kidding me?"
"I screamed at him so loud the walls are shaking," Phillips told him. "He is an emotionally paralyzed mess riddled with self loathing and doubt now that it is show time."
Even before meeting with Jackson, executives at the highest levels of AEG, including billionaire founder Phil Anschutz, were seeking insurance to protect the company's bottom line if the shows didn't come off, according to the emails.
Anschutz invited Jackson to a meeting at a Las Vegas villa in September 2008. Paul Gongaware, an AEG Live executive who knew Jackson, emailed colleagues a strategy memo. Wear casual clothes, he told them, "as MJ is distrustful of people in suits" and expect to talk "fluff" with "Mikey."
There were doubters inside and outside the company. Dan Beckerman, AEG's chief operating officer, sent Phillips, the chief executive of concert division AEG Live, a YouTube link to Jackson's shaky 2001 MTV appearance and asked, "Can he pull this off?"
"With time and rehearsal," Phillips wrote back.
Pressed by another promoter about Jackson's ability to deliver, Phillips shot back in an email, "He has to or financial disaster awaits."