LOS ANGELES, Calif. –The portrait of Michael Jackson in the last week of his life, painted by people close to him, is a disturbing picture of an emaciated man, unable to sleep or eat, and unlikely to be ready for his comeback concerts just days away.
“Oh, my God, Turkle, I can see Michael’s heart beat through the skin in his chest,” stylist Michael Bush said after a costume fitting six days before his death on June 19, 2009.
Turkle is the nickname of make up artist Karen Faye, who testified Thursday and Friday in Jackson’s wrongful death trial. Her testimony has been the most dramatic so far.
Proceedings continue Monday with choreographer Stacy Walker on the witness stand.
“Get him a bucket of chicken,” manager Frank DiLeo said in reply to concerns about Jackson’s weight loss, Faye testified.
“It was such a cold response, it broke my heart,” Faye said through tears.
Michael Jackson’s mother and three children contend concert promoter AEG Live is liable in Jackson’s death because its executives ignored his health problem and pressured him to prepare for his “This Is It” shows set to debut in London in July 2009.
AEG Live negligently hired, retained and supervised Dr. Conrad Murray, who was convicted of involuntary manslaughter in the pop icon’s death, according to the Jackson’s lawsuit.
The coroner blamed Jackson’s June 25, 2009 death on an overdose of propofol, combined with sedatives, given to him by Dr. Murray as a treatment for insomnia.
AEG lawyers contend that it was Jackson, and not AEG, who hired and supervised Dr. Murray, and that he was responsible for his own decisions. They said these were influenced by a drug addiction its executives did not and could not be expected to know about.
Witness: “Everybody was lying after he died”
The Michael Jackson the public saw in the documentary “This Is It” — produced months after his death with 80 hours of video shot during his last rehearsals — is not reality, Faye said.
She was asked to help retouch the video to make Jackson look healthier on the big screen, she testified. But she refused.
“It was a lie. I didn’t want to lie,” Faye said. “Everybody was lying after he died, saying that Michael was well, and everybody knew he wasn’t. I felt that retouching Michael was just a part of that lie.”
Before Faye testified, jurors heard a similarly disturbing description of Jackson in his final days from “This Is It” associate producer Alif Sankey.
Jackson “was not speaking normally” at the June 19 costume fitting, Sankey said. She and producer Kenny Ortega cried after he left because of his appearance and what he said.
“God keeps talking to me,”Jackson told Ortega, Sankey testified.
Faye said Jackson seemed “frightened,” and he was talking to himself, repeating “the same thing over and over again.”
“He kept repeating, ‘Why can’t I choose?’” she said.
Jackson was shivering from chills, and it was “like I was touching ice” when she put on his make up, Faye testified.
Faye said she raised her concerns with AEG Live CEO Randy Phillips. He told her, “Yeah, this is bad.
It’s not so good. I had to scrape Michael off the floor in London…because he was so drunk,” she said.
The Jackson family’s legal representation contends Phillips should have gotten Jackson medical care from someone other than Dr. Murray.
Sankey, who knew Jackson since she first danced with him in 1987, said she screamed at Ortega in a phone call after the June 19 rehearsal begging that he get help for Jackson.
“I kept saying that ‘Michael is dying, he’s dying, he’s leaving us, he needs to be put in a hospital,’” Sankey said. “‘Please do something. Please, please.’ I kept saying that. I asked him why no one had seen what I had seen. He said he didn’t know.”
Debbie Rowe was “in love with Michael”
The trial, which enters its third week Monday, could offer more previously unpublicized insights into Jackson’s life and death.
Along with his oldest children Prince and Paris Jackson, his ex-wife and their mother, Debbie Rowe, is scheduled to testify.
Faye’s testimony on Friday offered a glimpse at Jackson’s relationship with Rowe, suggesting there was romance involved — or at least jealously.
Faye said that after she was fired from her job during Jackson’s “History” tour in 1997, she learned it was because Rowe felt threatened by her relationship with Jackson.
“She was obviously in love with Michael,” Faye said. “She had told me for many years that it was her desire to be with him.”
Rowe later apologized to her for asking Jackson’s manager to let her go, she testified.
“She told me she was jealous of me,” Faye said. “She thought that Michael liked me better.”
Alan Duke | CNN