LOS ANGELES (AP) — A top executive of the company that was producing Michael Jackson’s “This Is It” tour acknowledged reluctantly Tuesday that he negotiated a deal for the doctor that the pop star had chosen to accompany him.
But AEG Live executive Paul Gongaware testified his only role in the matter was negotiating the price of Dr. Conrad Murray’s services in compliance with what Jackson asked him to do.
Gongaware said that neither he nor anyone at the entertainment giant investigated Murray’s background or credentials.
“The fact that he had been Michael Jackson’s personal physician for three years was good enough for me,” Gongaware said.
Gongaware, the Co-CEO of AEG Live, testified in the Los Angeles trial as a hostile witness called by lawyers for Jackson’s mother in her negligent-hiring lawsuit.
He came under aggressive examination by plaintiff’s attorney Brian Panish on whether AEG or Jackson was responsible for hiring Murray, who was ultimately convicted of involuntary manslaughter in the superstar’s death.
Jackson died in 2009 after being given a powerful anesthetic.
Asked if he knew that Murray was in financial difficulties when he took the job as tour doctor, Gongaware answered no.
He said that Murray initially asked for $5 million to travel to London with Jackson and tend to him during the tour.
“I just told him it wasn’t going to happen,” he said, recalling that Jackson then suggested offering him $150,000 a month.
“Michael Jackson insisted on it and recommended him and it was not for me to tell him no,” said Gongaware, who is a defendant in the multibillion-dollar lawsuit.
“I wanted to provide what was necessary for him to do his job…He wanted a doctor and I wanted him to be healthy.”
Even after the offer of $150,000, Murray wasn’t satisfied.
“He started saying he wanted more and I said, ‘The offer is coming directly from the artist,” Gongaware said.
Minutes later, he said Murray accepted.
“Did that seem desperate to you?” asked Panish.
“No,” said Gongaware. “He just accepted Michael’s offer.”
During Tuesday’s court session, Katherine Jackson was accompanied to court by her singing star daughter Janet who sat beside her for the first half of the day. Later, her sister, Rebbie took the seat.
Gongaware often pleaded poor memory of events. He said he may have met with Jackson as many as 10 times, but could remember only two of the meetings and only one when Murray was present.
Prodded by Panish, he remembered a meeting at which Jackson arrived late from a doctor’s appointment and had slurred speech.
“He was a bit off,” he said, “that was the only time I saw him like that.”
At the heart of the case is who hired Murray. At first, Gongaware insisted he did no negotiating with Murray, but, confronted with emails and his previous testimony, he changed his position and said, “The only thing I did with Dr. Murray was negotiate a price.”
He indicated that he was so shocked by Murray’s demand that he consulted a doctor friend to see what he would charge for the same job. The other doctor said he would have gone on tour for $10,000 a week.
“Did you ever convey that to Michael Jackson?” asked Panish.
“I don’t recall,” said Gongaware whose testimony was peppered with that phrase.
According to Katherine Jackson’s lawyers, Janet Jackson attended just to see Gongaware testify.
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This Week’s Celebrity Instagrams (10/15-10/21)
31 photos Launch gallery
1. Just a NY girl with BIG dreams....
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2. HAPPY CHILDREN=QUALITY PARENTING. We don't always see eye to eye on everything and that's normal. We're human beings. But we come together and do it right for what's important, the kids. We are not enemies, we are parents. And we are parents 1st. S/O to @monyettashaw for making Mason's bday memorable. S/O to @itscrystalsmith at home taking care of our other lil' Prince. ❤️❤️❤️ THIS IS WHAT CO-PARENTING LOOKS LIKE. #Blessed #Happy #AboveTheDrama #BiggerThanUs
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3. So happy to finally be able to share with you all that I’m the new Global Brand Ambassador for @Revlon! Follow my day on RevlonSnaps. Yay! Choose Love, Everybody! #RevlonXCiara #chooselove #ad
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4. Glam on point!!!@makeupbymotoko & @shaylinjoneshair #easybreezy @lifetimetv #beachesmovie #january2017 😘
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5. ✨True love ✨📸: @jessiemarrerophotography
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7. Today was not easy..but by the grace of God we all got through it. Words cannot express our gratitude for all of your Prayers, Positive thoughts and Support for us throughout the years. Tommy will be missed but most certainly never forgotten...And PLEASE don't ask "Where's Martin?.." he was there too...just not in this picture. Lol! God bless you all.. #LoveConquersAll #MartinShow
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9. West coast get ready for #RockyHorror. I will be live tweeting again. #letsdothetimewarpagain
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10. #THEKEYS pre order yours now ... Available everywhere #NOV22 #WeTheBest 🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑
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11. We about to ROCK at #KCABlackBall!! All for our life-changing effort to end 🌎 AIDS.
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12. Today's #SNAPJACK is brought to you by @yazzthegreatest 😂😂😂💋💋💋
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13. Damn girl you kinda old to be headed to the Go Go. You coming in at the age they leaving. LMAO
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14. Daddy daycare B-Boxin with @acewellstucker @shopraisingace
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15. #FBF Naviyd & URV "LIL MONSTERS"
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16. HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ONE OF THE BIGGEST LEGENDS IN OUR HIPHOP HISTORY! @snoopdogg CONTINUED BLESSING AND LOVE FAMILY!!!!! REAL OG!
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17. Thank you for a beautiful night VSU! Let's do it again! #HOMECOMING
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18. Had a great time this morning with my familia Erica, Griff & Truth!!
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19. Check out my interview on @essence facebook live. #inmyownwords #nycpromo #day2
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20. #She💋 #tbt #TheCoveAtTheAtlantis #DawgPawsAndAll
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21. Bae #retailtherapy
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22. Why me and @coryhardrict got the same pose... and notee... new mouth #naked
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23. When my husband is my personal 'hype-man'! it kills me every time! 💜😂 #WHATNOW #lostfiles📷
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24. Diggy Simmons
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25. Hand full of @jacquieaiche 💙💎💍 @esnail_la 💅🏾
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26. SuperSoulers! You can watch my interview with Carl Lentz live from my Facebook page, tomorrow at 11a ET| 8a PT. #SuperSoulSunday
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27. 💋 .. When the friendship is easy like Sunday morning. ☀️
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28. Sunday mornings are the best........... hugs and cuddles with my angel
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29. #huggar16 #hellohuggars
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30. My gym is everywhere!.. #RnBMoney #TheGeneral 📸: @twelvepastseven
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31. Nothing I would rather be doing... Rocko setting up our movie, Romelō working on a puzzle & Laiyah singing and sharing all she's learning at school... I'm so grateful for the joy they've brought into my life ... Praying for peace , joy & love in the home of EVERY family ♥️ #HeadScarfPJSunday LOL 😂
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