AEG exec discusses Jackson interactions, emails

June 1, 2013 • Entertainment

FILE – In this Sept. 28, 2011 file photo, concert promoter and producer on Michael Jackson’s ill-fated “This Is It” tour, Paul Gongaware, testifies on the second day of Dr. Conrad Murray’s involuntary manslaughter trial in the death of pop star Michael Jackson in downtown Los Angeles. Testimony from AEG Live executive Gongaware on his interactions with Jackson and his negotiations with the singer’s doctor dominated the fifth week of a civil case against the company filed by the superstar’s mother, Katherine. On Tuesday, May 28, 2013, Gongaware reluctantly acknowledged that he negotiated the $150,000 per month rate that Jackson’s doctor expected to be paid to serve on the “This Is It” tour. (AP Photo/Al Seib, Pool, File)

A look at key moments this past week in the wrongful death trial in Los Angeles between Michael Jackson’s mother, Katherine [auth] Jackson, and concert giant AEG Live LLC, and what is expected at court in the week ahead:


Jackson’s mother wants a jury to determine that the promoter of Jackson’s planned comeback concerts didn’t properly investigate Dr. Conrad Murray, who a criminal jury convicted of involuntary manslaughter for Jackson’s June 2009 death. AEG’s attorney says the case is about personal choice, namely Jackson’s decision to have Murray serve as his doctor and give him doses of a powerful anesthetic as a sleep aid. Millions, possibly billions, of dollars are at stake.

— Several minutes of awkward questions lobbed at Gongaware over an email he sent to an assistant for one of his bosses — “an absolute babe” as he described her — in which he wrote that concert preparations were giving him nightmares and cold sweats. Gongaware insisted he was joking about the reactions.


— Jurors heard from AEG Live executive Paul Gongaware, who reluctantly testified that he negotiated a deal with Murray to work with Jackson on the tour for $150,000 a month. He told the panel he didn’t investigate the doctor’s background, but consulted with a physician friend who told him that he would have gone on the tour for $10,000 a week.

— Gongaware described his interactions with the singer while preparing for “This Is It” and said he only saw Jackson impaired once, after a visit with his dermatologist.


— Dozens of emails Gongaware sent or received during preparations for the “This Is It” tour, including several where Jackson’s health was described as poor and declining.


— “Michael Jackson insisted on it and recommended him and it was not for me to tell him no,” Gongaware said of discussions with Jackson about bringing Murray on the tour.

— “He was good. He was engaged, he was alert. He was paying attention. … I watched him pretty carefully in the meetings we had,” Gongaware said of Jackson in 2009 meetings.


— A plane flying a banner that reads, “Follow the $ to Michael Jackson’s Death” made the rounds in the skies over Los Angeles, appearing downtown, at the beach on Memorial Day weekend and over the corporate offices of AEG Live.


— AEG Live CEO Randy Phillips is expected to be on the witness stand much of the upcoming week after Gongaware is done answering questions posed by a defense attorney.

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