Home Uncategorized Michael Jackson Trial: Add AEG to the List of People He Thought...

I appreciate the testimony of Michael Jackson’s eldest son, Prince. Today he testified that Michael told him AEG executives “were trying to kill him.” You can tell Prince is a good kid. But he came into the Jackson story in late chapters. Prince, your father thought everyone was trying to kill him. The AEG people were just the latest. Michael distrusted just about everyone around him. Anyone with whom he found himself in a contractual situation was considered an enemy. Any authority figure was “trying to kill him.”

Let’s just go back to the 2001, after “Invincible” came out. Jackson was convinced Tommy Mottola was the devil, a racist who had it in for him. Mottola, the head of SonyMusic then, was no picnic, let’s face it. But he’d waited seven years for a Michael Jackson album. Jackson stole the “Invincible” tapes and wouldn’t release them until Mottola secured him a cameo in “Men in Black II.” Then Michael wanted to undercut “Invincible” with a separate charity single and Mottola refused.

By 2003, Jackson had turned over his finances and management to Miami lawyer Al Malnik and veteran music exec Charles Koppleman. They saved him at a moment when he almost went under financially. When Jackson was arrested in November 2003, he installed the Nation of Islam and never spoke to Malnik or Koppelman again. He told friends that he thought they were trying to steal the Beatles catalog from him.

Jackson was a musical genius, but he was disloyal and capricious. In 2005 he allowed his longtime press aide Bob Jones be dismissed without warning or severance. Now he was the enemy.

When the trial was over, Jackson accepted the hospitality of Prince Abdullah of Bahrain, who bankrolled a long visit. Michael signed a contract with the Prince and announced a record label. He also took $7 million in cash as an advance. When he got the money, he bolted Bahrain and left the Prince high and dry.

Were AEG executives trying to “kill” him? No. Jackson was in financial peril after his trial but he refused to work or make any money. Several times he let his parents’ home go into foreclosure. The mortgage was held for a while by a dentist and a group of investors. Jackson was deeply in debt, had no cash. He let Neverland sink into red ink until it was taken over by Colony Capital.

Jackson accepted the offer from AEG because, like other human beings, he needed to generate income. No one put a gun to his head. And if anyone wanted him alive, it was AEG and Randy Phillips. They just had no idea what he was up to when they weren’t looking.

So Prince made for good theater, and he’s a good son in a tragic situation. But let’s not overdo it. Michael Jackson was the captain of his own ship.

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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.
11 replies to this post
  1. Wherever there is a Michael Jackson story, the bizarre antics of his apologists rear their heads. It’s incredibly humorous to hear people that knew nothing of the real person that was Michael Jackson tell us all how his life was, how he felt, etc. Most people know little of reality of anyone outside of their immediate household, let alone an entertainer. I was a Michael Jackson fan for his music, but it’s clear that he was very disturbed and had many issues. That’s something that facts have proven to be the case over many years and stories including the reporting of Mr. Friedman.

  2. I agree with you. The media had been hating on MJ his whole career. Clearly, they were trying to destroy him. The media started the name W**** J****, and they persecuted him at the 2004 trial. Despite the verdict exonerating him, the media convinced most people that MJ was a pedophile. If you want to see the hate that the media created against MJ, just go to the MJ Topix forums.They are still promoting hate against MJ, four years after his death. When journalists undermine our entire legal system, like they did at the 2004 trial, I think they are out of control. I think it is tantamount to treason against the people and the country. Still, the media will once again want people to ignore the fact that AEG said that they were Murray’s employer and not MJ. AEG hired a convicted Murderer, and they should be liable as anyone who hires a hitman. Especially, since they set Murray up to fail by threatening him and denying him proper medical equipment. Yes, I believe that AEG acted very recklessly, and they abused their power, and trampled a wounded soul under their feet. AEG helped to kill MJ as surely as the media did. But, the media wants us to not look at the facts and instead they want to twist the facts and say things like “MJ thought everyone was trying to kill him”. MJ must have been crazy. You know what? MJ was right, and someone did kill him.

  3. I think there is a lot of truth in the idea that Michael Jackson was murdered. All the actions of Conrad Murray were so off the scale they seemed criminal, then there were the unidentified fingerprints on a bottle in MJ’s bedroom, the CCTV tapes at the house mysteriously wiped by the police; now Prince’s and TJ’s testimony. I read somewhere that AEG, the police and law departments, the media all come under the Californian political ‘umbrella’, so when I wonder who was pulling Conrad Murray’s strings, who was pulling AEG’s? The reason Conrad Murray refused to testify is because he daren’t. What he knows would ‘blow the roof off’ as he said, and he could be at risk too. Whatever way you look at it, it is suspicious. Now stories are suddenly appearing to rake up the old allegations to discredit Michael Jackson in newspapers owned by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation or International, or whatever its new name is. It all adds up. How long before someone is coming after me for saying this?

  4. If I remember correctly , in the court transcripts , it stated in an email that you , Roger, called Randy Phillips on his cell phone , to find out what the delay was , with MJ announcement for the 02 concerts.As a good reporter would , naturally.

    So it would follow , that Mr Phillips has your cell phone number also,
    You seem to go out of you way to defend AEG.
    I dont know who is going to win this case , I dont like the Jacksons , but I think AEG is not any better ..
    This case is supposedly about who hired and controlled the Dr and it isnt looking good for AEG
    When you come out with these stories to degrade Jackson , that essentially have nothing to do with the case, it makes you look like someones puppet

  5. People forget that Michael Jackson backed out of several tours and record deals in the decade or so before he died. I doubt he had any real intention of fulfilling the AEG contract either. I don’t think he was lazy. Just drug addicted and may have developed stage fright.
    As far as the Wacko Jacko thing. He brought that on himself with false stories released to the Enquirer back in the ’70’s and ’80’s. Remember the “Sleeps in a hyperbaric chamber” story? Or wandering around with a chimp? really what normal person does that stuff.

  6. Wow…these comments are rabid in many ways. Michael Jackson was our first “video artiste” in my opinion. As with many creative types, he came with many “demons” that followed him to his end. Bizarre lifestyle begins to paint a picture of his life. Add dear ole Daddy and Mommy, couple that with his siblings…

    Are you kidding me? Wacko is just the icing on the cake!

  7. “What do you think?” says the title of the comment section? I’m not sure you want to know what I think Roger Friedman. You’re story makes no sense because you are leaving out the biggest pieces of the puzzle here – no wonder you reach such a faulty conclusion.

    How much money do you think the relentless media bullying of Michael Jackson cost this artist? Just give me an estimate, starting from the first “wacko” stories when people started getting a little uncomfortable with a young black man being so powerful and dominating the entertainment industry. Then move on to the all out war against him for having vitiligo – something a civilized society might look upon with sympathy. And finish up with the media driven campaign that wound up with the 2005 MEDIA CIRCUS of a trial. The verdict? MEDIA GUILTY. Let’s just try to put a dollar amount on all this.

    And where is your critical thinking? Where is your media “savvy”? Why did all this happen? Is even possible to spend down the kind of money MJ made in his life? Do you have any clue the kind of earnings that kind of money produces? Or, are you willing to buy the story Robin Leach just published – that the Estate is “worth at least $600 million and growing larger every day — a $1.1 billion turnaround.” Are journalists really that fuzzy when it comes to math? Who is behind all this nonsense?

    And did you bother to listen to any of Dr. Czisler’s testimony? What was unclear about it? Can you bring yourself to write anything about the complexity of this situation? Or are you happy to just bully a 15 yr old child testifying about his father’s homicide? Whose sister is so traumatized by the situation and the resulting media bullying that she is currently in hospital? Which produced more media bullying.

    So, now the media bullying of Michael Jackson has extended to his minor children. How can you people sleep at night? Let’s hope Halle Berry’s testimony is effective in creating stricter laws, and that many, many more laws will follow, to put a stop to your unconscionable behavior. If I had my way, you’d be on your way to jail right now.

  8. You don’t understand, Friedman. Michael Jackson was in deep shock after the trial. He sank into depression, which is a state where you may still be creative, but you don’t really get things done – which, as you well know, he was fully able to before the trial. Look at the pictures of him after the acquittal. While others are jubilant, he looks absolutely devastated. He could not stay at Neverland, but he was also emotionally unable to sell it, because he felt the ranch was his soul. This, together, made for a disastrous financial and emotional situation. He was devastated having to see Neverland go into disrepair, but unable to do anything about it. (Nation of Islam, btw, was brought in by Jermaine Jackson, who often meant well but has a terrible lack of judgment. Unfortunately, he also brought in Thome Thome, who somehow stayed in the picture after he was sacked – even after MJ’s death.)

    Randy Phillips himself has stated he limited access to MJ, that is, isolated him, shouted at him and slapped him. As Prince testified and practically everyone else in MJ’s life has stated, he could not fight back, he just cried. Control over production was taken away from him, Karen faye testified how he was ridiculed and how she was told to force painful ear plugs into his ears against his will. He was a grownup man, but at the same time, defenseless as a kid, scared and trapped. And AEG knew it and used it and deliberately made him feel helpless, because they believed they had the right to exercise “tough love” and that this would work. That’s what killed him. Think for yourself – what the heck was Phillips doing in Michael’s home while he wasn’t there, pushing CM around and scaring the kids?

    There is a lot of people with bad memories from the AEG sphere in the court room. The rarely remember a single email they sent. Think about it.

    Karen Faye, a tireless defender of Michael Jackson, changed her mind about Lisa Marie Presley when she finally got to know her and saw the other side of their love story. Maybe you should consider what parts you don’t know of the stories about Dileo, Jones and others, people you feel sorry for. But be that as it may, AEG were way out of line, brutal and contemptuous towards their artist, and they should not walk away from this. And you should perhaps not try to inform a grieving Prince Jackson about his father. You have no idea what both of them have been up against.

    Well, I had my say, but not much hope you will listen, you haven’t before. Your line of reasoning is that you don’t like MJ, you’re convinced he was paranoid and bad, so therefore AEG have to be good. But one doesn’t actually follow the other.

    Finally – I am not a “rabid fan” of Michael Jackson. I have never seen a concert, have only one album of him, and it never entered m my mind to stand outside a hotel just to see him. I liked his music, that’s all. But seeing a great artist and a fellow human being being ridiculed, trashed, haunted and lied about to this extent frightens me. The bad journalism connected to it, and fueling it, also frightens me. And this site is no exception. It makes me wonder about other people you are writing about – is that info as distorted?

  9. Oh please…, Michael Jackson was not desperate to go on tour to make money, he was inactive in making music, but if he had wanted he could have released one album every year, there were people or organisations that paid him millions just for being somewhere (like the fan fest in Japan, or the birthday party of Prince of Brunei), he could have gone on tour “individually”, 5-10x a year, and made millions…, but still… he could have just released an album… or collaborate with other artists on other projects…, thats why there are the huge gaps between his major albums (4-7 years)… (of course, there had to be the right person who could led MJ the right way, like Maculay Culkin, he adviced him to work with Bjork or Radiohead…)

    But do you remember Teddy Riley having an interview when he said that even in the 90s MJ had told him that some people wanted to kill him, and Riley though its was insane…, but after 2009 he admitted MJ warned him…

    The myth of his lavish lifestyle is just the myth…. as for spending money and the debts…, have you seen any luxurious palaces or villas he bought? Any expensive cars? Have you seen the cribs on MTV, why so.called artists like Diddy, Jay-Z are glorified as moguls making money …. of what? Music? Come on…, what about the Backhams, Brad and Angelina, Madonna…

    Michael Jackson was the REAL music mogul, he has had his 50% of the biggest music publishing company – Sony/ATV (now Sony/ATV/EMI), but besides this… why nobody asks where or on what MJ was spending his money, … villas, jewellery, cars, private jets….? Yes, his had no cash…, the question is why? There wasnt any serious financial manager who could manage his finantial matters? Yes, there was nobody, especially if MJ was not confronted with the real situation…, and the yes men did what he asked for…

    BUT, if Prince said what he said, does it belittle his statements? Why?
    If MJ was mentally or psychologically ill/unstable or unable to rationally think of the reality… that means he DID need the professional help, insted of that the leeches and opportunists used him, exploited him… and he was left alone to struggle or cope with them… and THE situation, but… hey… since when the mentally unstable people suffering from something like MJs trial and all the circumstances are able to think rationally and make the right decisions? (if all people betrayed him).

    So… instead of understanding the situation and him in the mkiddle of it… some, or most of poeple are judging him, blaming him and making fun of him… like its natural to consider MJ being perfect and he wasnt let to have any personal-mental-psychological difficulties and see just molestation accusations and debts… like this is Michael Jackson, but who cares about him, the person?

  10. I think the media needs to keep their personal feelings about MJ out of the story. Everyone knows the contempt that the media had for MJ. Just the facts, please, just the facts of the trial.

  11. Well, Prince said his dad was NOT lazy and sorry Roger Ill believe his son who was with him a hell of a lot longer and knew him better than you! You are mean spirited and heartless and Mj was a great Dad!! If he wasn’t a hard worker and didn’t want to work he would’ve become a Icon and know perfectionist!! Prince poured his heart out and you are so jaded as to right a article shitting on his and his siblings pain and love his Dad had for them and them for their Dad!! Anyway great job Prince!

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