Michael Jackson (Los Angeles Times )
Five days before he died, Michael Jackson was in such a sorry mental state that the director of his ill-fated “This Is It” concert series said he needed a psychiatric evaluation.
Kenny Ortega sent the June 20, 2009, email to Randy Phillips, president and chief executive of AEG Live, which was putting on the 50 London concerts. He wrote “trouble at the front” in the email’s subject line.
“I honestly don’t think he is ready for this based on the continued physical weakening and deepening emotional state,” Ortega wrote. “There are strong signs of paranoia, anxiety and obsessive-like behavior. I think the very best thing we can do is get a top Psychiatrist in to evaluate him ASAP. It’s like there are two people there. One (deep inside) trying to hold on to what he was and still can be and not wanting us to quit him, the other in his weakened and troubled state … I honestly felt if I had encouraged or allowed him on stage last night he could have hurt himself. I believe we need professional guidance in this matter.”
The email was shown to the jury in the Jackson wrongful death lawsuit during the testimony of Shawn Trell, AEG’s senior vice president and general counsel. He said he learned of Jackson’s frail condition from Phillips and Paul Gongaware, another top executive, at a meeting of AEG Live’s executive committee.
Trell said the company’s response was to hold a meeting that day with Jackson and his doctor, Conrad Murray. “…so I think they took it seriously,” he said.
Phillips turned down the request for a psychiatrist. In emails previously published by The Times, Phillips wrote, "It is critical that neither you, me or anyone around this show become amateur psychiatrists or physicians."
At the meeting, Jackson said he would improve and Murray agreed to help. Others have said that Jackson did great during the next two days of rehearsals. "Michael and the doctor stressed that he was OK. They had it under control," Marvin Putnam, AEG’s attorney, has said.
Murray was convicted of involuntary manslaughter for giving Jackson a fatal dose of the anesthetic propfol to treat his insomnia. His mother and three children have sued Anschutz Entertainment Group, saying the company negligently hired and supervised Murray. AEG says that any money it was supposed to pay Murray was an advance to Jackson.
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