Days before his death, the King of Pop told tour producer/director Kenny Ortega, "God keeps talking to me."
Ortega and associate producer Alif Sankey testified on Wednesday that they became increasingly alarmed at Jackson's frail appearance during his final rehearsals and that Sankey was so worried that at one point she began crying, CNN reports.
During a June 19, 2009 rehearsal, Jackson looked "extremely thin" and "was not speaking normally" as he was being fitted for his stage clothes, Sankey testified. After Jackson left, Sankey said that she and Ortega broke into tears. Sankey was so shaken up, she pulled over on her way home and called Ortega "because I had a very strong feeling that Michael was dying. I was screaming into the phone at that point," she added. "I said he needs to be put in the hospital now."
Kenny Ortega talks to "This is It" cast. (Kevin Mazur, Columbia Pictures)
Ortega expressed his concern in a number of emails. Shortly after, a meeting was called at Jackson's house with Jackson, Dr. Conrad Murray, AEG Live President Randy Phillips and Ortega.
Following the meeting, Phillips sent an email praising Murray, "who I am gaining immense respect for as I get to deal with him more." The email added, "This doctor is extremely successful [we check everyone out] and does not need this gig, so he [is] totally unbiased and ethical."
In their lawsuit, the Jackson family claims that AEG and Phillips did not properly check out Murray's background. If they had, they would have discovered he was saddled with debt and was desperate to keep his high-paying job treating Jackson, even if it meant crossing the line.
On June 25, 2009, Michael Jackson died of an overdose of Propofol and several other sedatives. According to investigators, Murray claimed he treated Jackson with the combination of drugs so he could sleep and be ready for the next day's rehearsals.
[Photos: This is It Gallery]
While Jackson died before the This is It tour could hit the road, a 2009 documentary about the tour's rehearsals was released. In the film, Ortega is seen talking about working with Jackson. "I'm proud to be able to say I was a participant, and that I helped and he trusted me," he says. "It's really one of the great gifts of my life to have earned that trust and to be able to collaborate with him and to just take part. There aren't too many people, any more, that can drop my jaw and Michael Jackson remained one of those people all the way until the end."
While the film presented Jackson's final days in the best possible light and was widely praised, it was released after Jackson's tragic death, leaving a bittersweet after taste. Wall Street Journal critic Joe Morgenstern wrote of the film, "It's an expertly packaged -- brilliantly packaged, considering how quickly the job was done -- phantasmagoria that emphasizes, quite convincingly, the energy that Michael could still draw from whatever was fueling his wraith-thin body."
- Arts & Entertainment
- Michael Jackson
- Kenny Ortega