Michael Jackson’s hairstylist, makeup artist and longtime friend testified Friday that she was concerned about the star’s aggressive “This Is It” tour schedule, saying she worried it didn’t give him enough time to “recuperate” between shows.
Karen Faye returned to the witness stand in the wrongful death case between Jackson’s family and entertainment giant AEG Live, seven weeks after she last testified. During cross examination from AEG attorney Marvin Putnam on Friday, Faye said she looked at the 2009 show dates.
“I was concerned about how close the shows were together,” she said.
Faye said she felt the singer “might make the first week” of the “This Is It” tour but the schedule overall would be “too difficult for him to maintain.” In all, the pop star was set to perform as many as 50 show in London.
“I know the time he needs to recuperate after a show and I didn’t know if he could continue very long with that schedule because there wasn’t enough time to recuperate,” she said.
Faye’s comments came on the 39th day of testimony in the case, in which Jackson’s mother and three children contend AEG pushed an ailing Jackson to perform. The suit alleges the company employed and controlled Conrad Murray, the doctor who gave the singer a fatal dose of the anesthetic propofol. AEG maintains that Murray – who is currently serving jail time for his involuntary manslaughter conviction – worked for Jackson.
Faye said she expressed her concerns about the tour schedule to Jackson and tour director Kenny Ortega. When asked about an email Ortega wrote about their conversation, Faye disputed some of the words Ortega used.
In the email to AEG executive Paul Gongaware and production manager John Houghdahl, Ortega said Faye “commented rather heavily” about the schedule she had seen online and had a “strong opinion that this is dangerous and impractical with consideration to MJ’s health and ability to perform.”
“I didn’t say it would be dangerous…that’s ridiculous,” Faye said. “I said it wasn’t the best schedule for Michael to be successful.”
“There’s no way I would have said dangerous or impractical… I mean dangerous? No,” she told Putnam. “I wouldn’t have used those words, sir.”
Faye testified that she told Jackson directly that he should look at the schedule and see how he felt about it. “That’s funny,” she said the singer told her. “My mother said the same thing.”
Faye said she had previously spoken to Jackson about the tour and he seemed "a little discouraged about that number" of 50 shows, she said.
“I was a little apprehensive too, but we didn’t dwell on that whatsoever,” she told the court.
Faye worked with Jackson for nearly three decades, including during his 2005 child molestation trial. After he was acquitted, she said, he left the country and she didn’t see him again until after agreeing to do the “This Is It” tour.
Her primary focus, she said, was getting his hair back in shape. Faye said she watched the London news conference in which AEG and Jackson announced the tour, and noticed “he had a really bad hair piece on.”
“His wig was so big,” she said.
Jackson’s wigs were elaborate and expensive, she said, pricing them around $3,500 each. Each was ventilated and made of high-quality hair, with each piece individually placed into the netting. She said she needed “at least five” hair pieces ready before leaving for the London tour.
Faye’s contract with AEG called for money to pay for the wigs as well as a private room with a hydraulic chair where she could do his hair and makeup.
“Michael liked privacy,” she said, noting the singer “didn’t want people seeing” him get his hair done.
She also stipulated in the contract that she would provide AEG general receipts for “personal service” and “products” rather than itemized notes in order to protect that privacy.
“Michael didn’t want people to know that he wore a wig,” she testified. “I wanted it to be as private for him as possible.”
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