Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Jackson a 'freak' to AEG, trial told

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LOS ANGELES -- A lawyer for the parent company of AEG Live LLC called Michael Jackson a freak on the day the singer signed a multimillion-dollar contract for a series of ill-fated comeback concerts, emails displayed for a jury on Wednesday showed.

The emails were presented by Brian Panish, an attorney for Jackson's mother in her lawsuit claiming AEG was negligent in hiring the personal physician who was later convicted of killing the pop superstar.

The lawsuit also says AEG pushed Jackson too hard despite signs that he was in poor health.

The emails were sent Jan. 28, 2009, roughly four months before the singer's death.

In the exchange, AEG Live general counsel Shawn Trell told his boss that he was going to Jackson's home to sign contracts for the This Is It shows later that year in London.

Ted Fikre, the general counsel for Anschutz Entertainment Group, wrote back in two minutes.

"Does this mean you get to meet the freak?" Fikre replied, according to the emails.

"Apparently. Not sure how I feel about that. Interesting for sure, but kind of creepy," replied Trell, who had spoken approvingly while testifying on Tuesday about his only meeting with Jackson,

Katherine Jackson was seated in the front row of the courtroom when the emails were displayed, and she passed Trell on her way out at the end of the day. They did not acknowledge each other.

-- The Associated Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition May 24, 2013 D2

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