LOS ANGELES (AP) — Michael Jackson appeared “a little loopy” after visits with his longtime dermatologist, a choreographer who worked one-on-one with the pop superstar told a jury Tuesday.
Travis Payne said he witnessed Jackson’s unusual behavior after the singer visited Dr. Arnold Klein, who Payne believed was performing cosmetic treatments on the singer so that he would be comfortable performing onstage again.
“Sometimes in rehearsal, Michael would appear just a little loopy,” Payne said, adding that the singer appeared to be “assisted or under the influence of something.”
Payne was working for AEG Live LLC, the company promoting Jackson’s the “This Is It” tour, which was canceled after Jackson’s June 2009 death.
The choreographer is testifying for AEG, which is being sued by Jackson’s mother. Katherine Jackson claims AEG failed to properly investigate Conrad Murray, the doctor who was convicted of involuntary manslaughter for Jackson’s death, and that the concert promoter also missed or ignored signs of Jackson’s poor health.
AEG denies it hired Murray, and claims Jackson was private about medical treatments and hid the depths of his prescription drug addiction. Jackson died from an overdose of the anesthetic propofol, which Murray was giving him as a sleep aid.
The company also did not hire the dermatologist, Klein.
Klein is listed as a potential witness in the case but it is unknown whether he will testify. His treatment of Jackson, which included Demerol shots, have been scrutinized both during Murray’s 2011 criminal trial and the current civil case.
Payne, the choreographer, said he witnessed Jackson’s unusual behavior several times in the weeks before his death. The singer also appeared groggy during some morning sessions, Payne said, and Jackson occasionally complained he was having trouble sleeping.
Payne said he did not think that Jackson had a problem abusing prescription medications. He acknowledged that Jackson missed rehearsals and he saw the singer shivering or appear cold in some of his final rehearsals.
He told the jury he thought Jackson was thin, but told the jury he wasn’t aware of an email that AEG executives sent seeking to remove footage of Jackson rehearsing from the “This Is It” film in which he was described as looking like “skeletal.” The email was not displayed for the jury.
Payne told jurors he met Murray twice, but both encounters were brief.
He worked with Jackson beginning in the 1990s and testified that he never saw Jackson drink alcohol or take any medications. The singer also never discussed his medical treatments, Payne said.