Jacksons vs AEG - Day 45 – July 9 2013 – Summary

Katherine and Rebbie Jackson are in court.

Kenny Ortega Testimony

Jackson direct

Ortega said he didn't want to change any of his testimony from yesterday. His lawyer drove him home yesterday. (ABC7)

Panish began testimony by asking Ortega if he was familiar with his “This Is It” contract. Ortega said he’d need to see it to talk about it. Ortega was then asked who was paying his lawyer’s fees. Ortega said AEG Live was paying for his lawyer, but he picked the attorney. The director-choreographer said he hadn’t consulted with his attorney since yesterday about trial testimony. (AP) Ortega said he's not familiar with the details of his contract. Ortega chose his attorney for this case, but AEG is paying for it. (ABC7)

Panish asked Ortega about the Randy Phillips emails about the “This Is It” press conference. Ortega said yesterday he wasn’t told about problems preceding the conference. He said it would have impacted decision to work on “TII.” Panish asked if Ortega wouldn’t have worked on the shows knowing the problems because he cared about MJ. Ortega said yes. (AP) Panish asked how Ortega would've been impacted had he known MJ's condition on the day of the press conference. Panish: Less wanting to do it? Ortega: Yes P: Less wanting to do it because of MJ's condition? O: Yes. Panish: Because you cared about MJ's condition? Ortega: Yes (ABC7)

Panish asked if at times Ortega would want to meet with MJ alone. Ortega said yes. "In order to get into each other's head and for me to be in the same page with MJ on where his plans were for the show," Ortega explained. (ABC7)

Ortega said he was only involved in the negotiation of Travis Payne's payment. (ABC7)

Panish asked if AEG wanted to do production within reasonable costs. "I think that's general position of responsible producers," Ortega said. "I didn't discuss financing with MJ," Ortega said. (ABC7)

Ortega had not worked with MJ for more than 10 years. In terms of creativity, Ortega said not much had changed between the two. Jackson and Travis were more involved in the actual dance steps and performances, Ortega said. (ABC7)

"I think Baryshnikov and Michael battled it up to see who could do more multiple 360s," Ortega testified. Ortega said the turns are called pencil turns, and he compared MJ to the famous ballet dancer Mikhail Baryshnikov. (ABC7)

"My goal was to edit together the pieces to tell a story about what Michael's goals for the show were," Ortega explained. Ortega said he obviously wanted to make Michael look good, but the intention was to tell the story. (ABC7)

Panish showed an email with names of artists who were to be involved in the "This Is It" tour. Ortega said Karen Faye reached out to him, had already spoken with MJ about being part of the crew. Ortega said Bugzee was not the stage manager. He worked under Paul Gongaware as accountant, Ortega explained. "I wouldn't have called him stage manager," Ortega said about Bugzee (Houghdahl). Panish: Did you ask Bugzee to write an email on your behalf? Ortega: Not that I recall (ABC7)

Email on March 25, 2009 from Gongaware to Ortega: Kenny, I'm afraid we may not be able to meet your financial requirements for a deal. I'm totally bummed by this. Couldn't sleep last night trying to figure it out. We need to move forward quickly. Email cont'd: I know, but I haven't been able to find a way to make this work. My deepest, most sincere apology. Paul G (ABC7)

"I remember it had to be approved by Mr. Jackson," Ortega said about the email. He testified he never spoke about money with MJ. Judge asked what "financial requirements" meant to him, and Ortega said it referred to his salary. Panish: Were you surprised? Ortega: Was I surprised? No "Not what I expected, but sometimes negotiations take time," Ortega explained. Panish asked if this was a negotiation tactic? Ortega smiled and answered perhaps. Ortega didn't think the negotiations were dead. He kept working in good faith. Ortega and Payne share the same agent (Julie McDonald). He and Payne continued working without a contract. "It was my hope and in the end we would come to terms," Ortega said. Ortega: It would all work out and I kept the faith that that would happen. Ortega said he performed auditions for dancers, singers, band and interviewed various people for various designer's role. (ABC7)

Ortega doesn't know when he signed his contract. Panish showed a copy of Ortega's contract. It was executed on April 25, 2009. Ortega did not have a written agreement when he did the dancers audition. (ABC7)

Ortega Contract: The principal terms and conditions of Employer and Employee's engagement for the Concerts are set forth in the agreement. (the "Agreement) between Company, on the one hand, and Employer and Employee, on the other hand, as previously confirmed in emails between the parties' representatives, which such emails are attached hereto as Exhibit "A" and incorporated herein by this reference. The contract says Ortega could get a total of $1.5 million, plus $100K for each of the five territories and $250K for the US. (ABC7)

The concerts were supposed to start in London on July 8. Ortega: Michael and I both wanted to extend our time before opening, so I felt comfortable taking the heat (of postponing it). "As a director of the show, I didn't feel we would be ready for the show's original dates," Ortega said. (ABC7)

Email on 5/19/09 from Ortega regarding the postponement of the show: I'm uncomfortable with the way the release reads at this moment. I feel strongly that it is unnecessary and misleading to both of the press and fans to suggest things as "staging is from another planet" or "never before seen staging." We are not doing the Chinese Olympics. (ABC7)

Ortega said they were exaggerating, and that he thought the press release was "creatively misleading." "The show got so big," Ortega explained, saying he needed an extra week to get it ready. Phillips is quoted in release that "this is a one-off adjustment do purely technical reasons and we don't anticipate any further changes." (ABC7)

Ortega met Dr. Murray at the Carolwood home in April or May. He remembers the doctor going to rehearsals once or twice. MJ went to 2 rehearsals at Staples, June 23rd and 24th. Ortega said Dr. Murray was involved in creating Michael's scheduling for rehearsals. It was either Phillips or Paul Gongaware who told Ortega Dr. Murray would be making MJ's schedule and would help MJ get to rehearsal. Panish: Who was responsible for the content of the show? Ortega: Michael Jackson. "First it was Dr. Murray and then Randy helped," Ortega said about MJ's rehearsal schedule. Dr. Murray would give Ortega the schedule rehearsal. Ortega said it was not unusual, but he never had a doctor give him artist's schedule. Panish: Was there a time you were concerned MJ wasn't showing up at rehearsals? Ortega: Yes (ABC7)

Email on June 23, 2009 from Timm Wooley to Bob Taylor: Changes are structural only: KO has responsibility only for the show content & structure in consultation with MJ. Randy Phillips and Dr. Murray are responsible for MJ's rehearsal and attendance. (ABC7)

Panish asked if Ortega had ever seen a situation where a CEO of a company was responsible for the artist's schedule/attendance. Ortega: No (ABC7)

"I just wanted him to come to rehearsal," Ortega said. "In terms of when he came I was willing to structure everything around that." "At some point, it became my number one concern," Ortega said about MJ showing up at rehearsals. (ABC7)

There were 4 calls between Dr. Murray and Ortega on June 18. One lasted 30 minutes. Ortega said they were already in rehearsals and the only reason KO would call Murray was to inquire about MJ's non-appearance at rehearsals. "My own frustrations" Ortega said explaining Murray was creating the schedule, which wasn't working. "He was my lifeline so to speak". Panish: Was Michael coming every day to rehearsal in June? Ortega: No, Panish: Every scheduled day? Ortega: That I don't know. Panish: Were you ever involved in a show where you called a doctor of an artist when he was not coming to rehearsals? Ortega: No. MJ wasn't showing up at all at rehearsals in June, Ortega testified. "I recall MJ not coming to rehearsals for a period of time in June." Panish: Remember yourself having serious frustration on June 18th? Ortega: Yes"That all we worked, MJ and I, this dream, this goal he and I had, tis desire, was going to fall away," Ortega explained.Ortega said MJ was his directing partner, he needed the artist to get the show on the road. (ABC7)

On Jun 19, there were several calls between Ortega and Dr. Murray. Ortega remembers this date because there was an issue with MJ. Ortega's first phone call was at 11:25 am and MJ was not at rehearsal. Panish: Did you learn they had an intervention? Ortega: I remember there was plan to get schedule in order, it was my feeling we weren't going to make it, there was plan to make it clear. Before June 19, Ortega said MJ hadn't come to rehearsals for a "good week," but it could've been more. They were supposed to leave for London on July 3, so they has 10-12 rehearsals remaining. "On the 19th I had more than a serious concern that the show could go on," Ortega said. Panish: You had serious doubt? Ortega: Yes. They were going to rehearse in London as well. As of June 19th, Ortega hadn't seen MJ for a week or more. On June 19, there was a fitting to take place. Michael showed up but very late, Ortega said. Ortega explained it was hard for him as a director to work like that, so he went to AEG's high ups. Ortega said on June 19th MJ was cold, shivering. "He was slow at growing into the show," Ortega explained. Panish: How about losing weight? Ortega: I had a concern, yes Panish: How about balance issues? Ortega: Yes. Regarding MJ's balance, Ortega said there was a period of time it wasn't as good as it had been. Ortega said MJ complained of back pain. (ABC7)

Panish: Did he seem lost? Ortega: Yes, on the 19th P: Did he seem paranoid? O: Yes
Panish: Did you think he was communicating with clarity? Ortega: No. For part of the evening. He got better (ABC7)

Panish showed an email from Alif Sankey expressing concerns about MJ on June 4. Ortega: The choreographer is not responsible for the artist's physical/emotional, but if they see something they are to report to director. June 13th, Payne wrote an email saying MJ was taking a sick day, per doctor's order. On Jun 14, Ortega wrote to Gongaware that MJ was not allowed to attend the rehearsals the day, asked about MJ's nourishment/therapy. Ortega said the intention was to get assistance in trying to help Michael in every way possible so he could go to rehearsal. (ABC7)