New details are coming to light about Michael Jackson's behavior as he prepped for his 2009 comeback tour.
According to 250 pages worth of confidential emails obtained by the Los Angeles Times, the financiers of the King of Pop's "This Is It" concerts, Anschutz Entertainment Group (AEG), were deeply concerned about Jackson's stability, with execs referring to him as "self loathing" and "lazy," among other things.
"MJ is locked in his room drunk and despondent," AEG's Randy Phillips said in an email to his boss AEG President Tim Leiweke during that time. "I [am] trying to sober him up."
"Are you kidding me?" Leiweke fired back.
"I screamed at him so loud the walls are shaking," Phillips told him. "He is an emotionally paralyzed mess riddled with self loathing and doubt now that it is show time."
Jackson's behavior was becoming more and more erratic, according to the emails, and fear was growing that the show would not go on.
AEG Live executive Paul Gongaware told colleagues Jackson was "distrustful of people in suits," adding that the "Bad" crooner thought he was "bigger" than the $132 million he was set to net from a proposed world tour.
"We are holding all the risk," Gongaware wrote to Phillips. "We let Mikey know just what this will cost him in terms of him making money...We cannot be forced into stopping this, which MJ will try to do because he is lazy and constantly changes his mind to fit his immediate wants."
"He is locked. He has no choice...he signed a contract," Gongaware continued.
The show's musical director and others rehearsing with the late legend were also concerned, complaining that he missed rehearsals, lip-synched some of the songs, and took longer than usual picking up the dance routines.
"MJ is not in shape enough yet to sing this stuff live and dance at the same time," the show's musical director told supervisors in an email.
According to the Times, those emails may play "a central role" in two lawsuits involving the company that are set for trial next year.
In one suit, the show's insurers' asked a judge to nullify a $17.5 million policy they say AEG obtained with "false claims" about Jackson's health and ability to perform.
And in the other, Jackson's heirs filed a wrongful-death suit that accused the company of pressuring Jackson to continue with the show in spite of indications that he was too weak to do so.
The entertainment corporation's lawyers told the Times most of the emails were produced as discovery in ongoing litigation. After Jackson's death, the promoters culled together rehearsal footage and turned it into the successful This Is It concert film and album.