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AEG gets its turn to question CEO Randy Phillips

June 11, 2013 12:00:00 AM PDT
It was Michael Jackson who wanted a comeback tour, and it was the pop star's manager who approached AEG to make it happen, AEG Live President Randy Phillips testified Tuesday during the Jackson family's wrongful death trial.

Phillips was rebutting allegations that AEG pressured Jackson to perform beyond the artist's limits. For the first time in five days, Philliips got his turn to tell his story with the AEG defense team asking the questions.

Phillips testified that dealing with Jackson was challenging and that the artist was mercurial. It was one of the things that made him great, Phillips told the jury. But he said it also made Jackson difficult, because the singer would change his mind and change his representatives like people change socks.

Defense attorney Marvin Putnam asked Phillips if he could demand who managed Jackson or if he could dictate who Jackson worked with. Phillips answered no to both.

A cornerstone of the negligence lawsuit filed by Katherine Jackson is that AEG allegedly hired Conrad Murray, the physician who administered a surgical sedative to Jackson to help him sleep. Jackson died from an overdose in June 2009.

AEG Live says that as the tour producer, the company was advancing Jackson the money he needed to stage the series of 50 concerts and that Jackson selected Murray as his personal physician.

The plaintiffs have portrayed AEG as money hungry, trying to recover its losses when Jackson died.

Earlier in the day, Jackson lawyer Brian Panish showed the jury an email from Phillips that said, in part, "Michael Jackson's death was a tragedy. Life must go on. AEG will make a fortune from merchandise sales, ticket retention, the touring exhibition and the film/DVD. I still wish he was here."

In a later email, Phillips stated that profits from the sales would go to Jackson's mother, children and charities.

About pressuring Jackson to perform, Phillips noted that Jackson died before he had performed a single show.

Meantime, there's a twist in the Jackson lawsuit. While Katherine Jackson is suing AEG, Michael Jackson's siblings are doing business with the company. The Jacksons are set to perform at a BET festival later this month.


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