Home Celebrity Michael Jackson: To Sleep, Perchance to Dream

Two years ago this afternoon, Michael Jackson died. The only person present was Dr. Conrad Murray. He administered propofol to Michael, something the singer had done before, many times. He started using the anesthesia to “sleep” on his Dangerous tour in 1996, and never stopped. Some accounts of this will surface, I am told, in a startling and revelatory new book due early this fall from Jackson’s longtime family friend and assistant, Frank Cascio.

Back in 2005, I wrote that another longtime Jackson associate, Frank DiLeo, had visited Michael at Neverland during his child molestation trial. He found a set up in Michael’s bedroom of an IV. DiLeo told me at the time it was clear that something was being administered to Jackson. He thought it was a tranquilizer. We were too naive or clueless to think that someone was allowing Michael Jackson to be given a potent drug that no other person in the world, literally, was receiving at home — and without proper supervision.

It doesn’t matter, however, how many times Michael had propofol from different doctors. In the end, if Dr. Murray was giving it to him, and didn’t do it properly, a jury will decide if he killed the most famous person in the world. Jackson obviously knew Dr. Murray’s weakness: money. He had women and children to support. He had a lifestyle. He expected a crazy salary of $150,000 a month. Luckily, he never received it. Michael Jackson was killed before the payments could be processed.

Michael knew how to administer his own injections. In 2003 he said he had a spider bite on his ankle. But that was actually an injection that had gone wrong. I was told then that he’d done it to himself. Did he try to do this again on June 25, 2009? It’s unlikely. Injections are one thing. IV needles are another. But Michael certainly knew his way around easing his own pain. He had a sustained addiction to pills, and drank a lot. He drank wine from soda cans–“Jesus juice”– to avoid being detected. During his 2005 trial for child molestation and conspiracy–which ended in acquittal on all counts–he was zonked every day.

But who could blame him? The trial was handled expertly by Thomas Mesereau, his defense attorney, despite the legal team being saddled by an incompetent (Brian Oxman) and a local lawyer (Robert Sanger) who suggested to the judge one day that Jackson’s kids weren’t his biologically. “The circumstances that relate to the birth of the children wouldn’t be admitted for the truth of the matter,” Sanger said to a mostly drowsy, sparsely attended court on May 30, 2005. “Only his love of the children.” Oxman slept in open court. Mesereau finally fired him.

Most days, Katherine Jackson came to court. Sometimes, Joseph Jackson did, too. Michael was frightened of his father, and now he was vulnerable to him. Two years ago, Joe Jackson turned up at the BET Awards–just four days after his son had died–with a Michael Jackson imitator. Jackson told press people on the red carpet that he was starting a new record label which, of course, never materialized. In 2001, on the eve of Michael’s 30th anniversary concerts at Madison Square Garden, his father told the press (me included) that he was starting an online video company. It also never materialized. But every time Michael made news, his father showed up to exploit it. You wonder what kind of pain he was in that he constantly asking to be put to sleep.

Last month, in Cannes, Joe Jackson turned up at the Carlton Hotel. He walked the red carpet and entered a private dinner held for Sean Penn and his Haiti relief programs. Jackson had new associates with him, backers from Vietnam. They didn’t speak English except for one. Jackson’s latest scheme: a Neverland style resort hotel in Vietnam, as if Neverland, Michael’s fortress away from his father, was Joe Jackson’s idea.

Hamlet, haunted by his father, considers suicide. “To sleep, perchance to dream–ay, there’s the rub.” Michael Jackson is dreaming now. His nightmares are over.


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Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.
14 replies to this post
  1. What a nightmare of a trashy tabloid article. Once again, media playing at one of their famous pastimes, trashing Michael Jackson. No proof here, just rumor and innuendo. The sources that I have been reading the last two years tell an entirely different story. You can’t even get your dates right. Well, even though I am one of those “stupid and mindless” MJ fans, my engineering degree and successful professional career allows me to see right through your lies. I prefer to get my information through official sources such as autopsy reports and people who knew him well over the last few years of his life and certainly not filtered through your tabloid eyes. Many more are mentioned in other comments here.

  2. Friedman. How dare you be critical of Joe Jackosn trying to profit off of his son. Michael Jackson was, at least, his oson who he raised, trained, reheased, and supported throughout his life. What is YOUR EXCUSE?

  3. What is your point, Roger Friedman?
    To remind us that Michael Jackson is dead? We know.
    That Frank Cascio is writing a book? We know. He said so himself.
    That the Cascio book contains ‘startling and revelatory’ information of Jackson’s use of propofol? Cascio DID NOT say this so we do not know. Neither to you.

    That Joe Jackson was abusive? We know that, too. Michael Jackson revealed this to the world himself. In later years, Jackson also revealed his own greater understanding of his father’s damaging actions, came to terms with his father on this issue, yet determined NOT to practice Joe’s brand of parenting discipline on his own children.

    Jesus Juice? Jackson’s kids weren’t his biologically? Hmmm. It’s clear who your favorite tabloid gossips are. Diane Dimond, for example? Maureen Orth or Martin Bashir, perhaps? How about Victor Gutierrez? The common thread here is trash writing based on questionable or nonexistent sources, repeating rumors unverified or long debunked, or outright lies. Gutierrez, a particularly gruesome and odorous specimen, is infamous for his prurient and pornographic inventions.

    Your utterances, however, place you among a growing but virulent group of writers who spread poison covered by a thin veil of sympathy.
    “Michael Jackson is dreaming now. His nightmares are over.” Fat chance of that as long as people like you put pen to paper — chasing the sound of ringing cash registers. Ker-ching. Ker-ching. Ker-ching.

    Should you accidently discover something new, significant, accurate, and TRUE about Michael Jackson’s life or death, do share it with us. Otherwise, Chill. Please.

  4. Michael Jackson was not on the Dangerous Tour in 1996 as told in your article, yet you state that he started using Propofol during this time as if it is fact and you seem to think you actually know what you are talking about. WELL, YOU DON’T! Go back and check on how many other things you got wrong – I’m not going to do the work you should have done beforehand for you!

    The world will miss his music, his kindness and philanthropy, the hope and laughter and love he brought to millions all over the world. People like you
    can never even hope to understand that. Your article on the second anniversary of his death is pathetic.

  5. Roger please do not consider me a dillusional fan.
    U recently spoke about facts and I believe what I’m about to say is true please correct or just share your opinion.

    1) Wasn’t it Frank Casio’s mum who said “He sleeps at our place”? Now unless you are suggesting that Frank Casiono is going to implicate his own mother for providing a drug that should not be there. Which I do not believe is your intention but it could be taken that way.

    2) He’s been using it ever since Dangerous tour 1996 >>> I assume you meant the Brunnei Royal concert it was no part of any tour especially not Dangerous (just fact checking) It is an easy mistake as he was still wearing his Dangerous attire at the time.
    However, how come there is a document from the police raid in 03 and yet there was no propofol mentioned on the search document? I believe 1 of the benzo’s was but not sure which 1 i’ll have to double check.

    Again this is just for honest reporting correcting errors not to undermime you. If you think I am wrong please allow comment and respond. I have seen your work you are not pro MJ as they say yet you have not been a full blown hater either therefore I would like to hear your opinion even if I do not agree with it.

  6. Friedman, you haven’t sustantiated one single thing you’ve spewed in your tabloid-trash article. You’re stating sleazy lie-rumors as if they are fact like the dirtiest bottom-feeder on the block. Have you ever even SEEN a spider bite, you cretin? Both my brother and brother-in-law almost died from spider bites and theirs looked exactly like what Michael had on his leg. Everyone who actually spent enough time with Michael Jackson to know wether he had a substance abuse problem or not has unequivocally stated he did not (his body guards, Dr. Patrick Treacy, Kathy Hilton to name but a smattering) – and his siblings never spent nearly enough time with him to be able to assess that BTW.
    Then there is the AUTOPSY report which unequivocally stated that Michael was completely clean except for what Murray injected him with, he was healthy and his organs were in good shape – something they never would have been if he was the addict you slanderously state he was.
    You are a cretin. And a creep.

  7. WOW! All in one article, too. I have NEVER read so much garbage. You sir belong down there with Diane Dimond and her ilk. Everything you wrote is an outright lie and you call that journalism? Were you a schoolmate of Dimond’s and dropped out of HS when she did? How do YOU sleep at night? Michael had chronic insomnia and with people like you and Dimond writing trash about him, I can certainly understand why. Don’t any of you realize what you did to this remarkable INNOCENT man just to get your trashy sensational story? It makes me sick. He didn’t deserve any of this. All his life he gave to other’s and the media opted to trash him instead. Shame on all of you. Your judge will be God and I pity you.

  8. ”monster!” that joe jackson,why can’t that evil man ,let micheal jackson
    rest in peace,the poor guy beengone for two years,and he’s still tryin to makes
    money off him.i can’t understand him at all, other parents would have been
    greive stricken,over losing their child…but not him,he’s just looking for another way to make money off micheal.

  9. With respect, what are you talking about Roger? — “His nightmares are over?”


    Michael Jackson suffered from insomnia. He was being billed $150,000 a month by a doctor and trying to get ready for a tour that was increasing its dates exponentially.

    Jackson’s autopsy report — yes, autopsy report — showed he was fit, and had no organ damage — which by the way is IMPOSSIBLE if a person had any long term health issues.

    A man went to sleep on June 24th with a tour to look forward to and three young children to watch grow up. But due to an almost comically negligent series of inexplicable decisions made by a doctor who should clearly be facing far longer than 4 years — that man never woke up.

    Three children have been denied their father and he has been denied them. Jackson didn’t die from an overdose of drugs — he died from an overdose of anaesthetic administered by an MD.

    The nightmare is very far from over.

  10. On the second anniversary of Michael’s passing, Mr. Friedman, you see fit to put out this trashy article? What thoughts possess you? You seem to “have been told” a lot of things about Michael Jackson, but of course you will never divulge a source, right?. Michael’s death was ruled a homicide, in case you have forgotten, which means death at the hands of another, in this case a selfish, egotistical excuse for a “doctor”, but nevertheless, an MD who took at oath to save lives, not TAKE them. There is no proof whatsoever that Michael used propofol in the past. Whatever despicable articles you may print concerning Michael Jackson only diminishes you as a “journalist” and proves your untrustworthiness. Leave Michael Jackson, his family, his friends, his fans, and his legacy alone, sir.

  11. Utterly pathetic. Didn’t the Cascios say they “saw nothing” while on Oprah? Hmm, maybe Frank Cascio caught the “let’s speculate and damn Michael” bug from his buddy Schmuley Boteach that trashed Michael in his book released a while back. Wouldn’t shock me given the fake tracks put on the “new” album, that was strike one. But, I will give him the benefit of the doubt right now and call you a liar until proven otherwise.

    Doesn’t seem like he left any propofol or benzodiazepine vials behind while he lived with the Cascios (who also never SAW any problems, either, like Kathy Hilton and numerous others like Tom Mesereau, David Nordahl, Patrick Treacy and Miko Brando, etc. etc. etc.), or any medications for that matter. Let’s get something straight right here–anesthesia prevents the body from being able to breathe on its own. That means that unless MJ was hooked up to a ventilator or some type of breathing device each night (which would have to be monitored and regulated by a person) he would have died years ago. Also, if by some chance he had had his breathing assisted (which is likely not the case as someone doesn’t get re-intubated nightly unless they have a tracheotomy which Michael never had) then a medication like propofol would have killed him in weeks if not months–it is like injecting lard into your veins. If it does not give someone sepsis from its ability to become filled with bacteria it will give them pancreatitis and the more it is given the more likely the person is to develop something called “PIS”–think of it as the breakdown of your heart. Did we see any pancreatic damage? Heart damage? Liver damage? Skin damage? NO. Oh, and wow, he was a heavy drinker yet no liver damage? Michael was acquitted of all the alcohol charges in 2005–remember? They were bull.

    Do you have ANY proof as to what the “spider bite” was? How about this–Michael did have vitiligo and has to use harsh creams to get his skin color to blend. He did use high-dose prednisone for lupus (a painful condition itself which can result in the use of ding ding ding–painkillers). Prednisone suppresses the immune system thus makes people susceptible to infections. Guess what? Something as simple as a scratch could cause a limb to be amputated if not dealt with properly and in time. Hmm, according to the autopsy report there were NO other lesions like that one (that particular one left a scar). Wow, and supposedly that was from injecting? And he never stopped? How did he not get any more? I’d say because it was NOT from an injection! And wow, someone who is supposed to be drugged up and a drunk HEALED from that wound–I am not sure that too many drunk drug addicts could heal like that with the help of some ciprofloxacin only. And for the record, an IV needle IS a form of an injection–use for multiple injections rather than single one. Mark Lester, Arnold Klein and Patrick Treacy (among others) said Michael would not self inject and no one ever saw injections marks on him. Almost all of them if not all of them on his body on the day he died were created by either Conrad Murray or paramedics who had to stick him multiple times because his veins were collapsed not due to drug use but due to him being DEAD. Your blood doesn’t flow when you are dead, Harvey.

    Let’s talk about Conrad Murray. Is there a signed agreement between Conrad Murray and Michael? No. Has Murray been cavorting all over the US since killing Michael, caught smiling at Disneyland and living it up in Florida? Yes. Wasn’t he being “paid enough” to care if his patient live or die? Well, I would think 150K a month would have been good enough but it was not enough for him to treat insomnia properly, not enough for him to at least bring in some breathing equipment and resuscitation drugs and it wasn’t enough for him to supposedly even WATCH his patient with his own eyes. Does that all sound like an accident to you? I hope not. Does he sound like he is suffering after killing Michael? No. Where is the evidence Michael was drug addict Harvey? Did any other celebrity who died from medication die at the VERY OWN HANDS of their own DOCTOR? NO! Their doctors may have been enablers but they did not kill them with their own HANDS and their own inhumane actions that would not even be dealt to a dog hit by a car!

    You could not write about Michael’s MUSIC, his humanitarian actions, his dancing, his fatherhood or anything else? No, all you can mention is drugs and the allegations–and “back” them with nothing but LIES. That is NOT how Michael Jackson will be remembered if I and others can help it! You seriously wrote up nothing but trash today which must make you trash, too.

  12. Thank you for remembering. Michael was so saavy about his career in the beginning, to surround himself with such charlatans was an indication that he was on some fatal ride. Conrad Murray, the biggest con man of them all, does a heart masage with one hand and on a mattress and then talks on the phone for over an hour- a drug dealer in an expensive suit.
    Michael died a sad, tired child, so so tired, thinking he would wake up in the morning to still another day of worry-who knows?
    As for Joe, he is suffering from the delusion that there is a future to walk into and the rage of not being able to cash into the estate.
    It was a lengendary life but a horrifying lonely death-that is what haunts us all.

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