Michael Jackson's anticipated comeback tour was in danger of being canceled after a promoter received troubling emails about the singer's health and mental stability, the chief executive for the company producing the "This Is It" concerts acknowledged Friday.
Randy Phillips, the top executive for AEG Live, said the sold-out London concerts could have been shut down after he received the emails, some that described the pop singer as being unprepared for the rigors of touring and being in feeble health.
Asked by Jackson family attorney Brian Panish if the tour was in danger, Phillips replied, "Yes. I would characterize it that way."
Phillips testified for the eighth day in the wrongful-death case brought by Jackson's mother and three children against AEG Live, Phillips and another AEG executive.
The Jacksons say that AEG hired and controlled Conrad Murray, the doctor who administered the fatal dose of the anesthetic propofol to the singer on June 25, 2009. AEG argues that Murray worked for Jackson and that any money the company was supposed to pay him was part of a multimillion-dollar advance the entertainment firm gave the singer.
Murray is now serving jail time for involuntary manslaughter.
Panish played a clip of a Sky News interview he gave a week after Jackson's death in which Phillips said AEG hired Murray.
Phillips told Panish that the company had never hired a doctor at the behest of a performer or paid for their housing.
Murray's contract said that AEG would pay for his house when the "This Is It" crew moved to London in July for the 50 concerts at the 02 Arena. Murray signed the contract shortly before Jackson died, but no one from AEG signed.
In previous testimony, an AEG executive testified that neither Jackson nor his representatives were shown drafts of Murray's contract.
Much of Phillips' testimony in recent days has centered on what happened June 19 and June 20, when Jackson was rehearsing for the concerts.
On June 19, after a particularly troubling day of rehearsal, tour director Kenny Ortega sent Phillips an email in which he said Jackson was "trembling, rambling, obsessing" and needed a mental health evaluation. A photo taken during a costume fitting that day shows a gaunt Jackson in a white T-shirt.
A meeting with Jackson, Ortega, Phillips and Murray was held at the singer's Carolwood Drive house the next day.
Phillips testified Jackson "looked really good."
Panish asked him how Jackson could improve so quickly. "I was as confused as anybody because the Michael Jackson I saw, the Michael Jackson sitting in that living room ... looked great."
What changed in 12 hours? Panish asked.
"I have no idea," Phillips replied.
Phillips and others have testified that Jackson's rehearsals on June 23 and 24 put everyone's worries to rest.
Jackson died on June 25. A paramedic who answered the emergency call to Jackson's residence testified earlier in the trial that the singer was so slender that he looked like a cancer patient who had gone home to die.
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