LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — The CEO of AEG Live offered conflicting testimony Wednesday about Michael Jackson’s demeanor as the family’s wrongful death suit against the firm continues.
AEG CEO Randy Phillips was called to the stand Wednesday by attorneys representing Katherine Jackson.
Phillips is the lead defendant in the case filed by the Jackson family, who claim AEG Live negligently hired and supervised the doctor who provided Jackson with the fatal dose of propofol that killed him while he was preparing for his comeback concert series in 2009.
By Phillps’ written account, in the hours leading up to the March 5, 2009 news conference when Michael Jackson announced his This Is It concert series at London’s O2 Arena, the star was drunk and despondent. By another account of Phillps’, he was just hungover.
KCAL9’s Randy Paige reports Jackson family lead attorney Brian Panish took issue with the conflicting statements after he called the executive to the stand.
“Was Mr. Jackson drunk?” Panish asked.
“No, to the best of my knowledge no,” Phillips testified.
“Was he despondent?” Panish asked. “No,” Phillips replied.
Later Panish produced an e-mail writted by Phillips to AEG President Tim Leiwicke the day of the news conference.
“MJ is locked in his room drunk and despondent,” Phillips wrote. “Tohme (Jackson’s manager) and I are trying to sober him up and get him to the press conference.”
“Are you kidding me?” Leiwicke responds.
“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 him to the O2. This is the scariest thing I have ever seen, he is an emotionally paralyzed mess riddled with self loathing and doubt now that it is showtime. He is scared to death. Right now I just want to get through this press conference,” Phillips writes.
After showing the e-mail to the jury, Panish asked his witness if he had yelled at Jackson on the day the e-mail was written.
“In the two-and-a-half hours this all took place, if you take it out of context the answer won’t make any sense,” Phillips said.
The executive later acknowledged “I raised my voice”.
“So the answer is no? Did you or did you not scream at Mr. Jackson? Yes, no or I don’t remember?” Panish asked.
Phillips said he couldn’t answer the question.
An attorney for AEG told KCAL9 he will show there are no inconsistencies in Phillips’ accounts when he calls witnesses to the stand.
Wednesday’s testimony marked the first time since the trial began that no Jackson family members attended.
The absence came hours after reports emerged Paris Jackson, the only daughter of the late pop legend, had been hospitalized after an apparent suicide attempt.
Sheriff’s deputies and paramedics responded to a report at 1:27 a.m. Wednesday of a possible overdose at the Jackson family home in Calabasas, according to Los Angeles County Fire Inspector Scott Miller.
The patient was transported to an unidentified local hospital, Miller said. No age or sex of the victim was provided.
Katherine Jackson subsequently released a statement to Entertainment Tonight, in which she said Paris was “getting appropriate medical attention”.
“Being a sensitive 15-year-old is difficult no matter who you are. It is especially difficult when you lose the person closest to you. Paris is physically fine and is getting appropriate medical attention. Please respect her privacy and the family’s privacy,” she said.
No other details were immediately available.