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AEG e-mail

CREDIBILITY, UNPLUGGED: The L.A. Times reports that three months before Michael Jackson died, AEG Live head Randy Phillips wrote an e-mail to Paul Gongaware (co-chief of AEG Live's touring division) that read, "We need to pull the plug now. I will explain." And in his testimony at the Jackson wrongful-death trial on Tuesday, Gongaware claimed that "pulling the plug" referred not to the star performer's "This Is It" tour, but rather to Karen Faye, MJ's hairstylist, makeup artist and friend, who'd been outspoken about the impact of the tour on Jackson's health. Tour director Kenny Ortega wanted to remove Faye from the equation, Gongaware said, because of the way she controlled access to the artist. In other e-mails shown to the jury, Gongaware derides Jackson for being "lazy" (which he admitted on the stand was "a poor choice of words") and advises his assistant to mark up a calendar to make the singer think he had more time off. Meanwhile, CNN reported that in yet another e-mail, written after Jackson's death, Gongaware recalled working with Elvis Presley at the time of the King's death--and drew a stark parallel with Jackson's situation. "I kind of knew what would happen," he wrote. Attorneys for the Jackson family and estate are using Gongaware's statements on the latter front to reinforce their claim that AEG was aware of Michael's drug dependency and proceeded in using Dr. Conrad Murray to keep the star under control. (5/29a)

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