AEG executive: Healthy Michael Jackson hired Conrad Murray himself


After a 12-year hiatus, Michael Jackson faced a full schedule of concerts for his comeback tour. Was the lineup of 50 concerts too ambitious?

AEG executive Paul Gongaware, a key defendant in Jackson's wrongful death lawsuit, testified Monday that it was not rigorous and would not be uncommon for a 50-year-old artist. Gongaware is CEO of AEG Live, the concert promoter being sued in the wrongful death suit.

Gongaware told the court that Jackson approved the schedule, which was spread over nine months with a three-month break in the middle. Furthermore, he testified, Jackson would not have to travel. All the shows would be in London's O2 arena.

The defense showed the jury a clip of Jackson in rehearsal. Gongaware says the star was excited, involved, and that Jackson wanted the biggest, best show ever.

AEG Live and its two CEOs are accused of hiring Dr. Conrad Murray as Jackson's personal physician. In Murray's criminal trial, it was revealed that he administered an intravenous sedative to Jackson at night to help him sleep. Jackson died of an overdose.

Gongaware says that Murray initially demanded a fee of $5 million to care for Jackson. But Gongaware says that Jackson authorized $150,000 per month. Gongaware stressed in his testimony that Jackson was calling the shots about who he wanted.

AEG asserts that it was financing the tour for Jackson, who would pay it back with profits that would come later. In an email Gongware writes "This is not AEG money. It's MJ money ... "

Gongaware said he conducted no background check of Murray because Murray, he stated, was already Jackson's doctor.

Jurors were all taking notes as Gongaware went on.

"It was not my place to say who his doctor was going to be. It was his decision," said Gongaware.

Testimony was stopped as one juror felt ill. After he recovered, testimony resumed. Gongware will continue on the witness stand Tuesday.

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