The lawyers for AEGLive, the company being sued by Michael Jackson’s family for his alleged wrongful death, are fuming. I am told they may ask the court for sanctions against the Jackson family and their attorneys as early as Tuesday over emails that were leaked to the Los Angeles Times last week. The emails, which the Times published, were sealed as part of the wrongful death suit as evidence. The court case won't be heard until next year.
But my sources say that the Jacksons, desperate for money after their failed attempt to snatch Katherine Jackson this summer, are looking for sympathy in the court of public opinion. I'm told they selectively pulled a few mails from hundreds and turned them over to the Los Angeles Times in an effort to make AEGLive look guilty of somehow forcing Michael to perform 50 concerts in London.
The truth when the totality of the emails is uncovered in court will be quite different. Michael Jackson was in deep debt when AEG first proposed he do 10 shows at the O2 Arena. That was in the fall of 2008. Jackson waffled. But eventually he was persuaded to agree simply because he had no choice. In practical terms, he was broke. AEG offered him an easy way to make some decent money and get back on his feet.
One thing is true: on the way to the O2 Arena announcement in March 2009, Jackson freaked out. He got ripping drunk. The result can be seen in the video of the announcement. Michael is grinning from ear to ear, laughing, and has no idea what to say other than "This is it." On the way to the announcement from London, he was petrified. He was very late arriving at the Arena, as well, making everyone wait.
What the LA Times has discounted is the documentary, "This Is It." For as much as Michael was petulant, stubborn, lazy, scared, etc, he was also a perfectionist with certain specific abilities. The latter are seen in the film at the rehearsals that he did show up for. And no one at AEG Live was trying to kill him, or overwork him to the point of exhaustion. AEG wanted Michael to succeed. They let him handpick everyone from Dr. Conrad Murray to his chef to trainers etc.
Let's not forget: on May 5th, 2009 Kevin Spacey's former manager Joanne Horowitz ran into Michael at Dr. Arnold Klein's office. Michael was in great shape and looking forward to the tour. (Link follows.) Jackson's mental and physical status changed on a daily basis as the London shows loomed. Like any performer, there were days when he was excited and others when he was apprehensive.
By Roger Friedman