The director and associate producer of the ill-fated ‘This Is It’ show feared for Michael Jackson’s life just days before he died, the latter, Alif Sankey, told the LA court hearing the Jacksons v AEG Live case yesterday.
Sankey recalled how the late king of pop appeared “extremely thin” and “was not speaking normally” when he attended a consume fitting on 19 Jun 2009, less than a week before he died. The producer said that the meeting with the singer left both her and show director Kenny Ortega in tears, such was their worry for his health.
According to CNN, Sankey told the court how, after the fitting, she stopped her car half way home to call Ortega “because I had a very strong feeling that Michael was dying. I was screaming into the phone at that point. I kept saying that ‘Michael is dying, he’s dying, he’s leaving us, he needs to be put in a hospital’, please do something. Please, please”.
Ortega did do something, sending a series of emails raising concerns about Jackson’s health the next morning. It resulted in a meeting at the singer’s rented home attended by Ortega, AEG Live President Randy Phillips, Dr Conrad Murray and Jackson himself. The meeting seemingly left Team AEG satisfied that all was fine, despite Sankey’s pleas to put the singer in hospital.
After the meeting, Phillips sent an email in which he said he’d had assurances regards Jackson’s health from Murray, the doctor subsequently convicted of involuntary manslaughter for his negligent treatment of the singer. The AEG chief then said of the doctor: “I am gaining immense respect for [him] as I get to deal with him more. This doctor is extremely successful (we check everyone out) and does not need this gig, so he [is] totally unbiased and ethical”.
As much previously reported, the Jackson family reckon AEG should be held liable for their most famous son’s death as the employers of Murray. Their lawyers argue that, despite Phillips’ claims in that email, AEG did not check out Murray’s credentials before agreeing to his appointment as Jackson’s personal medic. Had they done so, they would have discovered the doc’s woeful financial situation. Murray really did “need this gig”, as did Jackson, meaning both had reasons to cover up the singer’s health issues.
Sankey saw Jackson again the day before his death at a ‘This Is It’ rehearsal. “He didn’t look good”, she said. He’d wrapped a blanket around himself, so “I asked him if he was cold, and he said ‘Yes’”. Recalling how, the next day, she’d been with Ortega when Phillips phoned with the news of Jackson’s death, she revealed, “Kenny collapsed in our arms”.
Having first met Jackson when working as a dancer in 1987, Sankey’s testimony also included a tribute to the singer, saying: “Michael’s imagination was endless. He would visualise it, and it happened. It was amazing. We got to see Michael’s imagination come to life”. Working with Jackson was “magical”, she added.
The case continues.
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