Emails have surfaced today showing that the promoters of Michael Jackson's planned 2009 comeback feared for the megastar's stability, describing him as 'an emotionally paralyzed mess.'
The Los Angeles Times has obtained 250 pages of messages between executives at the Anschutz Entertainment Group, which was financing the This Is It tour, and production crew members.
The correspondence clearly shows that there was far greater alarm about Jackson's mental state than has previously been claimed.
The show's director, Kenny Ortega, who had known Jackson for 20 years, told AEG exec Randy Phillips their star was not ready for the comeback and called for a psychiatric intervention.
'There are strong signs of paranoia, anxiety and obsessive-like behavior. I think the very best thing we can do is get a top psychiatrist in to evaluate him ASAP,' he said.
'It is like there are two people there. One trying to hold on to what he was and still can be and not wanting us to quit him, the other in this weakened and troubled state,' Ortega added.
'I believe we need professional guidance in this matter.'
A subsequent visit to Jackson's London hotel suite by Phillips confirmed the worst.
'MJ is locked in his room drunk and despondent,' he said in an email to AEG boss Tim Leiweke in Los Angeles. 'I [am] trying to sober him up.'
'I screamed at him so loud the walls are shaking,' Phillips said.
'He is an emotionally paralyzed mess riddled with self-loathing and doubt now that it is show time.'
Publicly, however, AEG continued to project confidence with Leiweke telling a music industry symposium: 'The man is very sane, the man is very focused, the man is very healthy.'
The emails also show that despite his concern for Jackson, Phillips resisted the request for immediate psychiatric intervention by Ortega.
'It is critical that neither you, me or anyone around this show become amateur psychiatrists or physicians,' Phillips wrote to him.
He added that Conrad Murray, the doctor Jackson insisted AEG hire as his personal physician at $150,000 a month, was confident the singer was ready.
Murray, who was deep in debt and in danger of losing his home, was described as Philips as being: '... extremely successful (we check everyone out) and does not need this gig so he [is] totally unbiased and ethical.'
The doctor, who was charged with involuntary manslaughter of Jackson last year and was sentenced to four years in prison, was in fact giving the star nightly doses of propofol, a powerful surgical anesthetic, for his chronic insomnia, according to police.
Lawyers for AEG, which has denied any wrongdoing, said most of the messages reviewed by The Times were incomplete and leaked to portray the company in a negative light and that Phillips had exaggerated.
Jackson's demise ultimately tuned out to be a commercial boon for AEG after the musical documentary This Is It, which AEG co-produced, grossed more than $260 million worldwide.