Potentially significant footage of Michael Jackson filmed shortly before his death may have been scrapped intentionally before editors started work on a posthumous documentary, a lawyer suggested to jurors Monday.
A lawyer for the King of Pop’s mother raised the possibility during cross-examination of a choreographer testifying in Katherine Jackson’s negligence trial against concert promoter AEG Live.
Lawyer Kevin Boyle alleged that AEG executive Randy Phillips asked colleague Paul Gongaware to toss any potentially damaging rehearsal recordings before sending some 100 hours of raw footage to Sony Pictures for the making of the “This Is It” film.
“Did Mr. Phillips ever tell you he instructed Mr. Gongaware in writing to take out footage that (made Jackson) look like a skeleton?” lawyer Kevin Boyle asked choreographer Stacy Walker.
“He didn’t tell me that,” Walker replied.
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The late Michael Jackson's brother Randy Jackson arrives at court of the trial pitting Katherine Jackson, mother of the late singer Michael, against concert promoters AEG Live.
Boyle didn’t elaborate on the written exchange in court, but a source told the Daily News that Katherine’s lawyers plans to show email evidence of the alleged request later during the civil trial.
The source confirmed Katherine’s side has not recovered any video footage showing Michael in a compromised physical condition.
The jurors likely will decide whether any such video ever existed and, if it did, whether executives conspired to hide it.
Katherine, 82, is suing AEG for millions — possibly billions — claiming the concert giant negligently hired and supervised the personal doctor convicted of overdosing her son on June 25, 2009.
Marcio Jose Sanchez/AP
The late Michael Jackson follows his mother, Katherine Jackson, in this undated photo. Katherine, 82, is suing AEG for millions — possibly billions — claiming the concert giant negligently hired and supervised the personal doctor convicted of overdosing her son on June 25, 2009.
AEG has denied any wrongdoing, saying it was Michael’s decision to hire the now-disgraced personal physician, Dr. Conrad Murray.
Testifying tearfully on the tenth day of the civil trial in Los Angeles Monday, Walker said she knew Michael for years and didn’t suspect he was on the verge of death as he completed “great” rehearsals on the two nights that preceded his passing.
Her boss, Travis Payne, the lead choreographer for “This Is It,” also took the witness stand Monday and said he had no reservations about the King of Pop’s ability to perform in the weeks before the 50-date concert series was scheduled to start in London.
He said he was rehearsing with Michael five days a week, much of the time at the singer’s rented estate, and that Michael even hoped to perform without any lip-synching.
“Mr. Jackson told me he wanted to sing all the songs live,” Payne said. “He had not always done that in the past.”
Over 100 hours of raw footage to Sony Pictures for the making of the 'This Is It' film.
Payne said Jackson used “partial-assist” tracks during prior live performances that would play under his live singing.
“He said that he wanted to sing everything live,” Payne reiterated. “I think that this was a goal that he had set for himself. He wanted to deliver live performances to his fans.”
Still, at the time of his death, Michael was not strong enough to perform his entire show live, Payne conceded.
“By June 25, he had not reached the goal of being able to do both (dancing and live signing),” Payne said.
Asked if he thought Jackson would have reached his goal “over time,” Payne said he believed he would have.