Michael Jackson’s “This Is It” director broke down in tears in court on Wednesday as he read out an email he sent to AEG Live boss Randy Phillips about the King of Pop’s health during the singer’s ongoing wrongful death trial.
Kenny Ortega wrote the correspondence, in which he opened up about his concerns for the superstar, five days before Jackson’s death in June, 2009.
Ortega told Phillips he felt the star needed to see a therapist.
The email had been shown to the jury at the beginning of the wrongful death case, but on Wednesday the director/choreographer read it allowed – and broke down on the stand.
He read: “My concern is, now that we’ve brought the doctor in to the fold and have played the tough love, now or never card, is that the artist may be unable to rise to the occasion due to the real emotional stuff. He appeared quite weak and fatigued this evening. He had a terrible case of the chills, was trembling, ranting and obsessing.”
He added: “Everything in me says he should be psychologically evaluated. If we have any chance at all to get him back in the light, it’s going to take a strong therapist to help him through this as well as immediate physical nurturing.”
But Ortega also insisted that Jackson really wanted to perform the 50 London dates he and Ortega were preparing for, declaring, “It would shatter him, break his heart if we pulled the plug. He’s terribly frightened it’s all going to go away. He asked me repeatedly tonight if I was going to leave him. He was practically begging for my confidence. It broke my heart. He was like a lost boy. There still may be a chance he can rise to the occasion if we get him the help he needs.”
While reading the email, Ortega began to cry and paused to wipe tears from his eyes, prompting the judge in the case to call a short recess. Jackson’s mother Katherine, who has accused AEG Live executives of ignoring her son’s health woes and pushing him towards his death, was also clearly overcome with emotion in the courtroom.
She and Jackson’s kids are suing AEG Live and two of its executives, accusing them of negligently hiring and controlling the singer’s incarcerated physician Dr. Conrad Murray, who administered the fatal dose of the anaesthetic propofol on June 25, 2009.
AEG’s lawyers maintain Murray worked for Jackson.
The trial continues.