The chief executive of AEG referred to his own boss as a “paranoid scrooge” in an email exchange when the entertainment firm was preparing to promote Michael Jackson’s anticipated comeback tour in 2009.
Tim Leiweke, long the public face of AEG and an influential figure in Los Angeles, made the reference to Phillip Anschutz in a March 13, 2009, email to Randy Phillips, the chief executive of AEG Live, the company’s concert arm.
“Phil can be such a paranoid scrooge," Leiweke wrote, "He wants to know why I am so certain that none of our key folks are taking Michael Jackson tickets and scalping them."
Leiweke left AEG earlier this year. In April he was named president and chief executive of Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment in Toronto.
The email was revealed during ongoing testimony in the wrongful death suit that Jackson’s mother and children filed against AEG, which the suit contends hired and controlled the doctor who administered a fatal dose of the anesthetic propofol to the singer as he was rehearsing for the “This Is It” concerts in London.
Much of the case so far has turned on testimony from those working with Jackson as he prepared for his comeback and dozens of emails that were exchanged among top AEG officials as the concerts approached.
Last week, jurors were told about an email that Phillips wrote to Leiweke, in which he wrote: “MJ is locked in his room drunk and despondent. Tohme [one of Jackson’s managers] and I are trying to sober him up and get him to the press conference with his hairdresser/make-up artist.”
In a second email to Leiweke, Phillips wrote: “I screamed at him so loud the walls are shaking. Tohme and I have dressed him and they are finishing his hair and then we are rushing to the O2. This is the scariest thing I have ever see. He is an emotionally paralyzed mess riddled with self loathing and doubt now that it is show time. He is scared to death. Right now I just want to get through his press conference.”
In another email Phillips wrote to a business partner: “I haven’t pulled it off yet. We still have to get his nose on propery [sic]. You have no idea what this is like. He is a self-loathing, emotionally paralyzed mess.”
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