Published Monday, July 6, 2009 | 9:44 a.m.
Updated Monday, July 6, 2009 | 2:41 p.m.
*Check out this story with accompanying photos at VegasDeLuxe.com.*
Just 48 hours before his death, Michael Jackson was “in a high state of stress and emotional drama, fearing that he would never be able to complete the 50-concert run in London, and it would kill him.” That’s the inside word from one of the closest business friend’s of the late King of Pop who he turned to often when problems were at their darkest.
I am sworn to never release his identity. The night that the rehearsals were filmed and recorded at the Staples Center in L.A., Michael returned home “exhausted, highly strung, stressed and sweating profusely.” Click HERE for CNN video of the rehearsals on YouTube.
Michael reportedly said: “We did it, but we can’t go on. I’ll never make all 50. It will kill me.”
Michael’s confidante told me that he had come up with a last-minute plan to meet everybody’s needs. He wanted AEG to stage the This Is It show as a one-night world spectacular -- the largest one-time pop music event in history. It would be produced live from London, and it would be available in movie theaters, arenas and concert halls around the world simultaneously with immediate CD and DVD release.
The concept was that Michael would still earn the money he desperately needed and AEG would make the same money in one night as they would from 50 shows.
Michael apparently believed it would work and everybody would be happy, but he was stressed beyond belief if AEG insisted on going with the original plan, according to his confidante. “He couldn’t sleep, he was exhausted, and he was more stressed than he’d ever been in his life,” I was told. “At the very moment he should have been able to get back on top of the world, he worried so much he wouldn’t be able to execute it, and disaster loomed. He thought this new plan was the best solution.”
But top business executives reportedly rejected what Michael proposed. His plan was nixed. He became even more stressed, and, according to my source, it was that stress and high-wired sleeplessness that drove him to seek relief in the illegally prescribed anesthesia that should have only been used in a hospital operating room.
‘Death drug’ linked to Las Vegas doctors?
Now five doctors are under investigation as to how Michael obtained Diprivan and other medical supplies found at his home. I’m reliably told that the trail will lead back to a Las Vegas hospital where one of those doctors was able to fulfill illegal prescriptions. The Los Angeles Times has reported that some of the drugs had no prescriptions on the labels, indicating that they may have been improperly obtained from a hospital’s supply.
The Los Angeles Times quoted two leading experts who said that Diprivan is so powerful, it should only be administered in a hospital -- not in a private home -- by a qualified anesthesiologist. “It’s a very dangerous drug if self-administered or administered by someone not trained in airway management and cardiac life support,” said Ethan Bryson, an assistant professor of anesthesiology at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York. “You need to have someone who knows what they are doing when they administer it.”
Paul Wischmeyer, an anesthesiologist at the University of Colorado who coauthored a 2007 study of Diprivan abuse in the journal Anesthesia & Analgesia, was quoted: “A lot of people do it because it makes you completely blotto. It totally takes away all anxiety, all fear. It’s incredibly relieving of pain, anxiety and stress. People do it to escape.” He said he has seen people take the drug to relieve anxiety -- and used it to escape.”
The product label from the FDA says a patient being given the drug should be monitored at all times for signs of low blood pressure, low oxygen levels and stopped breathing. Problems with the heart or breathing are more likely to occur after rapid administration of the drug. The label states that equipment to provide artificial ventilation, supplemental oxygen and CPR “must be immediately available.”
For the record, it is not yet known if this drug or others played a role in Michael’s death. Toxicology results have to be completed before the L.A. County Coroner’s Office lists the cause of death. However, the continuing inquiry by the LAPD has been beefed up with the DEA and California Attorney General’s Office.
Michael’s final days in $100,000-a-month Holmby Hills rental
Since moving from Las Vegas, Michael lived in a $40 million, 22,000-square-foot mansion built by Mohamed Hadid and Hadid Development Co. located in Carolwood in Holmby Hills in Westwood, a mile past the Beverly Hills Hotel and before the Bel Air Hotel. Neighbors include Hugh Hefner, Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie.
Mohamed released this photo of the home located on 1 1/2 acres he built in 1999 and lived in for three years before selling it to a private investor who purchased it in 2004. Michael leased it from the investor but was friendly with Mohamed and his children, who played with Michael’s three kids. This photo shows Michael with Mohamed, Mohamed’s children and his children Paris Michael Katherine, Michael Joseph Jr. and Prince Michael II. This was taken at Thanksgiving in the residence.
When Michael began rehearsals for This Is It in California, he insisted that AEG production people hire doctors for him, one of whom lived at the house almost round-the-clock and was scheduled to fly to London on the This Is It payroll.
This Is It tribute show with Las Vegas production
I can tell you on absolutely the best authority that a tentative offer was made to the Jackson family over the weekend for a tribute show on the Strip. Joe Jackson and other family members including Janet, but not LaToya, also are weighing their own tribute show here with a Beverly Hills producer. I’m told that negotiations will intensify this week after tomorrow’s memorial service and burial.
AEG hasn’t officially confirmed that there is sufficient video footage and multi-track recordings from the dress rehearsals to use for such a show. Click HERE for our original VDLX story with WireImage founder Kevin Mazur’s rehearsal photos.
But insiders have told me there is “sufficient -- more than enough.” In addition to Michael taping all of the This Is It rehearsals from start to finish for a “making-of” TV documentary, he also had all the tracks from two albums that he had been working on in the Palms recording studio for three months when he lived here almost secretly at George Maloof’s casino hotel.
It’s believed that everything that was recorded as a safety precaution, and that can be used in a future show, is under tight security at AEG offices in Staples Center.
Last week, Michael’s friend This Is It choreographer and director Kenny Ortega, who created Sirens at Treasure Island, appeared on CNN’s Anderson Cooper 360 with some of Michael’s dancers. They all agreed that as stunned as they were by his sudden death, they believed that Michael would have wanted the production to be seen by all his fans around the world.
Next Monday, Michael would have kicked off the first of his London concerts at the 02 Arena. On Saturday, it was Madonna who headlined there debuting the European leg of her continuing Sticky & Sweet world tour. She stopped the show to pay tribute to Michael, with one dancer dressed as and impersonating the Gloved One.
Madonna's tribute to Michael Jackson
At one point, when Michael’s debut was pushed back from July 9, Madonna was blamed for not reshuffling her London dates to allow Michael's crew in soon enough to build This Is It’s three stages and 22 sets for final rehearsals.
As investigators track down the cause of death and as the world mourns at tomorrow’s televised and streamed memorial, the mega-bucks business of pop music will continue to grind. Meantime, even free tickets for Michael’s memorial service tomorrow morning sat Staples Center have skyrocketed in price. Prices on eBay, despite the warning on the tickets that there is to be no resale, have shot up in some cases as high as $20,000 for two! One offer even has a whopping $600,000 price tag!
Michael, in death, will at some point go out with the biggest showbiz spectacular of all time and probably wind up making more money than even dreamed possible with the original 50 London show comeback.
Robin Leach has been a journalist for more than 50 years and has spent the past decade giving readers the inside scoop on Las Vegas, the world’s premier platinum playground. Read more of Robin's stories at VegasDeLuxe.com.
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