A drunk, despondent and "emotionally paralyzed" Michael Jackson evolved into the confident superstar Michael Jackson as he stepped on stage to announce his comeback concerts, a promoter testified Wednesday.
AEG Live CEO Randy Phillips, testifying for a sixth day in the Michael Jackson wrongful death trial, explained why he sent e-mails to colleagues saying what he went through to pull off the London event in 2009 was "the scariest thing I have ever seen."
Phillips now calls it "The Miracle of March 5th."
It was a day when Phillips slapped Jackson and screamed at him so loud the walls of his hotel room shook, he testified.
Jackson's mother and three children are suing AEG Live, contending the concert promoter is liable for his death because it negligently hired, retained or supervised Dr. Conrad Murray.
AEG Live lawyers contend Jackson, not the company, chose, hired and supervised Murray. They argue AEG Live executives had no way of knowing Murray was using a surgical anesthetic in Jackson's home.
Murray, who told police he used the surgical anesthetic propofol nightly to treat Jackson's insomnia, was convicted of involuntary manslaughter for Jackson's death, which the coroner ruled was caused by a propofol overdose.
"We have a little issue"
Phillips had doubts Jackson would show up for the London announcement because he couldn't reach him a week before the scheduled date. The singer was not returning his manager's calls because he was upset that Tohme Tohme had planned to auction off some of his belongings. Phillips couldn't call Jackson directly -- only through Tohme, he said.
"I was flying blind," Phillips testified. "I didn't know what was happening in Michael's camp."
Phillips was starting to worry about Jackson breaking his contract with AEG Live for his "This Is It" concerts. "If there ever was a time to stop the process," it was then in late February, he testified. "That's when we had the least amount of risk and the greatest amount of collateral."
But Phillips decided to press ahead, even if Jackson failed to get on the private jet for London.
Jackson arrived with his children, Tohme, a bodyguard, and a nanny who also did his hair and makeup on March 4, 2009. Phillips, who had to stop in Miami for the launch of Britney Spear's "Circus" tour, landed in London on March 5, just hours before the press event was set to begin.
Phillips went to the Lanesborough Hotel, where Jackson and Tohme had adjacent suites on the first floor. He sat on Tohme's couch watching CNN while the manager checked on Jackson, he testified.
"I was starting to freak out," after a while, he said. Getting from the hotel to the O2 Arena on the east end of London could take 90 minutes since "traffic is mind-boggling," he said.
After more waiting, "I am completely freaking out," Phillips said. "I was in the hallway pacing back and forth."
"We have a little issue," Tohme eventually told him, he testified. "Michael got drunk."
Tohme returned to Jackson's suite, leaving an anxious Phillips in the hotel hallway, he said.
"I had an earpiece in my ear, Blackberry in my hand, and I was typing e-mails at the same time I was talking and receiving e-mails from a lot of very concerned people at the O2," Phillips testified.
One of those e-mails was to his boss -- parent company AEG CEO Tim Leiweke:
"MJ is locked in his room drunk and despondent. Tohme and I are trying to sober him up and get him to the press conference with his hairdresser/makeup artist."
Leiweke responded: "Are you kidding me?"
There were 3,000 fans and 350 news organizations waiting at the O2 for Jackson. "Time was ticking away," he testified. "I was sweating bullets."
Phillips eventually talked his way past bodyguard Alberto Alvarez and into Jackson's room, where he saw an empty liquor bottle on the floor by his couch.