Ortega: ‘I Feared Jackson Was Too Ill For This Is It Concerts’

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September 27, 2011 | 9:35pm EST

Choreographer-turned-moviemaker Kenny Ortega has revealed he had grave concerns about Michael Jackson’s health during rehearsals for the King of Pop’s This Is It comeback concerts.
Ortega became the first witness for the prosecution during the opening day of Dr. Conrad Murray’s involuntary manslaughter trial on Tuesday, and he told jurors he felt his friend, Jackson, was too ill to perform a series of 50 concerts.

Ortega, the director of the ill-fated comeback concerts, revealed Jackson showed up at rehearsals too ill to dance a week before his death in June, 2009, and his appearance prompted the choreographer to write an email to a concert promoter, addressing his concerns.

Reading the correspondence in court on Tuesday afternoon, Ortega said, “Everything in me says he (Jackson) should be psychologically evaluated… There still may be a chance he can rise to the occasion if we get him the help he needs.”

But the Dirty Dancing choreographer testified that he was sternly told to leave Jackson’s medical affairs to the experts when he approached Dr. Murray about the singer’s medical condition.

Murray is accused of administering the fatal dose of anesthetic Propofol that cost Jackson his life. His lawyers maintain the exhausted King of Pop injected himself with the drug in a desperate bid to relieve pain and get some much needed rest.

Following Ortega, AEG Live promoter Paul Gongaware took the stand and told prosecutors that Jackson was on top form when he announced the This Is It concerts at London’s O2 Arena, and demanded 21 extra shows when the first 10 sold out.

Gongaware revealed the pop superstar was obsessed with beating Prince’s record of 21 shows at the London venue.

In total, Jackson signed on to perform 50 shows in London.

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