Belfast Telegraph

Friday 25 April 2014

Sick Jackson 'pushed to rehearse'

Michael Jackson announces the concerts at the London O2 Arena (AP/Joel Ryan)

Michael Jackson's long-time make-up artist told a court she overhead an executive for concert promoter AEG Live insist that the singer rehearse, despite signs of his declining health.

Karen Faye, who worked with Jackson for more than 27 years, told jurors she became increasingly concerned about Jackson's health and agreed with a fan's assessment that the singer might die if he was pushed too hard in preparations for his This Is It concerts.

AEG executives continued to push Jackson, Ms Faye said. She told the Los Angeles court she overheard a phone conversation in which AEG executive Paul Gongaware told Jackson's assistant to get him out of a locked bathroom and to a rehearsal.

Ms Faye described Gongaware, AEG Live's co-CEO, as "angry and kind of desperate" in the conversation. She said Mr Gongaware told the assistant to do "whatever it takes".

She said the only people she saw insist that Jackson rehearse were Mr Gongaware and tour director Kenny Ortega.

The make-up artist and hair stylist is giving evidence in a case brought by Jackson's mother, Katherine, against AEG Live. The suit accuses the Los Angeles-based company of failing to properly investigate the doctor who was convicted of involuntary manslaughter for the singer's death.

Her lawyers also contend the company didn't properly respond to concerns about the singer's health.

AEG denies it hired Conrad Murray or bears any liability for Jackson's death.

Ms Faye said she informed Mr Ortega, Jackson's manager and AEG Live CEO Randy Phillips about her concerns about Jackson's health during the preparations for the shows. She said Jackson was frustrated and after a costume fitting days before his death, repeatedly asked her: "Why can't I choose?"

She said that after Jackson missed several rehearsals, Mr Phillips told her to ignore the singer's instructions.

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