July 11, 2013 20:57

'Michael Jackson frightened me,' says comeback gig director

Kenny Ortega gives testament during trial against concert promoter AEG Live

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The director of Michael Jackson's comeback shows in London, Kenny Ortega, told a US court on Wednesday (July 10) that he was "frightened" after he saw the singer shivering during one of his final rehearsals for the 'This Is It' shows.

According to Ortega, Jackson seemed lost and incoherent at the rehearsal, which took place just six days before the singer died in June 2009, reports the Associated Press.

"I saw a Michael that frightened me," he told the jury. He added that he found Jackson's appearance "very, very troubling".

The director's testimony came in the ongoing trial, in which the Jackson family are suing concert promoter AEG Live for negligently hiring Dr Conrad Murray (pictured right), the man who was convicted of involuntary manslaughter for giving Jackson an overdose of a dangerous sedative called Propofol.

Ortega broke down in tears during the trial while reading an email he sent to the CEO of AEG Live, Randy Phillips, hours after the rehearsal, in which he described Jackson as a "lost boy". He added that he was trying to alert the AEG Live officials to get the singer some appropriate care.

The director – who helmed the High School Musical trilogy – said a tense meeting with Dr Conrad Murray took place the following day, during which Murray assured him and Phillips that Jackson was well enough to continue rehearsing.

Last month, Prince Jackson, the son of the late pop star Michael Jackson, told jurors during the trial against AEG that his father feared the concert promoter. Prince said that his father wanted more time to rehearse for his 'This Is It' shows at London's O2 in July 2009, and had several tense phone conversations with the promoter that often ended with the singer in tears.

"They're going to kill me," he said his father told him after one of the phone conversations. However, he did not elaborate on what his father meant by this.

Prince also told the court that he witnessed AEG Live CEO Randy Phillips at the family's rented mansion in a heated conversation with Murray just days before his father died. "[Phillips] looked aggressive to me," he said.

However, AEG defence attorney Marvin S. Putnam denied the testament outside the court. He said: "I think as the testimony will show when he is called in our defense that's not what happened. He was a 12-year-old boy who has had to endure this great tragedy."

The trial began on April 29 and is set to conclude at the end of this month (July).

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