January 4th, 2011
DIRECT EXAMINATION: MR. WALGREN
Kenneth (Kenny) Ortega is a director and choreographer who works in film, TV and theatrical productions. He has worked as a choreographer for over 30 years and as a director over 20 years. Ortega states he first met Michael in 1991 as he was approached by Michael to work with him as the director for his "Dangerous" tour. Ortega accepted the offer to work on the Dangerous tour as a director working with choreography. Ortega states that Michael was "always the lead choreographer" but they worked with other choreographers as well.
Ortega says he remained in contact with Michael between 1991-2009. He states that most of the time that they saw each other, it was when they were either starting up or in the process of rehearsing a production. Ortega states he and Michael had talked in advance of starting "This Is It" because Michael was "looking for something, wanting to do the right thing at the right time, not just do something because he could, because it was being offered to him". Ortega said Michael would call sometimes and they had dinner a few times as well. He also states Michael came to see a concert with his children that Ortega himself had directed. Ortega agrees the time they spent together was mostly for professional reasons.
Ortega states discussions about the direction and choreography for "This Is it" began in April, 2009. Ortega agrees he joined "This Is It" at that time as well. Ortega states he and Michael co-directed and co-created the stage productions.
Walgren: BEGINNING IN ABOUT APRIL 2009, HOW FREQUENTLY DID YOU SEE MICHAEL JACKSON?
Ortega: MAYBE THREE OR FOUR DAYS A WEEK IN THE BEGINNING WHEN WE STARTED THE CREATIVE DISCUSSIONS, AND FOUR TO FIVE DAYS A WEEK ONCE WE GOT INTO PRODUCTION, INTO REHEARSALS.
Ortega confirms the latter frequency occurred until June 25th.
Walgren: CAN YOU DESCRIBE FOR THE COURT MICHAEL'S GENERAL DEMEANOR AND VIEW ON THIS UPCOMING TOUR?
Ortega: HE CALLED AND INVITED ME TO BE A PART OF IT, AND HE SAID TO ME, "THIS IS IT. I FEEL GREAT ABOUT THIS. THERE IS GREAT REASON TO DO THIS. I BELIEVE IN IT, AND IWOULD LIKE YOU TO BE THERE WITH ME" AND HE WAS JUST EXTREMELY EXCITED ABOUT IT. HE BELIEVED THAT THIS WAS SOMETHING, YOU KNOW, REALLY RIGHT AND EXCITING, THAT HAD TREMENDOUS POTENTIAL TO BE CREATIVE AND IMPORTANT AND IN THE BEGINNING, I THINK, YOU KNOW, MICHAEL MORE THAN ANYTHING, YOU KNOW, REALLY SHARED HIS REASONS FOR WANTING TO DO IT WITH ME. BEFORE WE TALKED ABOUT WHAT WE WERE GOING TO DO, YOU KNOW, THAT THERE WERE IMPORTANT REASONS THAT HE CHOSE TO DO IT NOW.
Ortega is asked what those "reasons" were and he replies that Michael felt it was a good time to tour again, especially given his children's ages and their ability to now appreciate what he did as a performer and entertainer. Ortega also states Michael wanted to do it for his fans, to perform again for them, and to use "This Is It" as a platform to bring about awareness for the planet, the environment and the people within it.
Ortega is asked if Michael ever shared any plans beyond that of the tour with him. He states that yes, he did, during the midst of rehearsals.
Ortega: ...MICHAEL ASKED ME IF I HAD EVER BEEN TO INDIA, AND I SAID, "NO. IT WAS ALWAYS A PLACE I WANTED TO VISIT" AND HE SAID, "WELL, WE WILL GO THERE AND WHATEVER YOU ARE DOING, YOU'LL HAVE TO DROP IT. I WANT YOU TO COME. I WANT YOU TO SEE. IT IS A BEAUTIFUL PLACE." HE ASKED ME IF I HAD EVER BEEN TO JAPAN. I SAID, "YES, I REALLY LOVED THE CULTURE AND PEOPLE." HE SAID, YOU KNOW, "WE MUST GO BACK TO ALL OF THESE PLACES, TAKE THE SHOW BACK TO ALL OF THESE PLACES" AND THAT WE TALKED ABOUT IT. MICHAEL FELT THAT AFTER THE 50 SHOWS --
Chernoff objects and the Court sustains the objection based on narration.
Walgren asks Ortega if there was any professional post-tour plans discussed between Ortega and Michael. Ortega confirms there were plans discussed with him.
Ortega: AFTER MICHAEL FINISHED TOURING, HE WANTED TO COME BACK AND WORK WITH ME AS A DIRECTOR ON MOTION PICTURES...MICHAEL REALLY LOVED FILM-MAKING, ALWAYS HAS, AND WANTED TO SPEND THE NEXT YEARS DEVELOPING MOTION PICTURE IDEAS AND WANTED ME TO BE A PART OF THAT.
Ortega confirms he was part of the rehearsals that began at Center Stage Studio in Burbank. Ortega agrees this is where rehearsals officially began for the "This Is It" tour. Ortega confirms Michael was part of the actual rehearsals at Center Stage. Ortega states he believes these particular rehearsals began around the very beginning of May or possibly the end of April.
Ortega confirms that in June the rehearsals were moved to the Forum in Los Angeles. Ortega confirms these were "more large-scale rehearsals".
Ortega confirms rehearsals were moved again to the Staples Center. Ortega confirms these were even "more large-scale" than that of the rehearsals at the Forum. Ortega confirms he was on-site at the Staples Center rehearsals essentially every day. Ortega has difficulty recalling when the rehearsals began at the Staples Center. He believes they took place for three weeks at the Forum so he suspects that rehearsals were at the Staples Center the last week during which Michael was alive.
Walgren: YOU TESTIFIED THAT MICHAEL WAS VERY ENERGETIC, EXCITED ABOUT THIS TOUR. WAS HE EXHIBITING THAT SAME DEMEANOR AT THE TIME PERIOD WE ARE TALKING ABOUT WHEN REHEARSALS WERE TAKING PLACE AT THE STAPLES CENTER?
Ortega: PART OF THAT TIME.
Ortega is asked about the general schedule for the rehearsals. He states that different crew (ex. band, dancers, Michael himself, etc.) came in at different times. Ortega states Michael would typically arrive at rehearsals late in the afternoon with rehearsals going into the late evening hours. Ortega states he believes Michael's participation in the rehearsals was 6 hours, maximum, in duration, about 4 times a week. Ortega confirms these were physical rehearsals in which Michael physically took part, including dancing.
Ortega confirms Michael was involved in every decision creatively. He states Michael made the executive decisions on everything "creative" with the show. Ortega states he was there to offer suggestions but Michael gave the "last word" on creative elements.
Walgren: NOW, MR. ORTEGA, I WANT TO GO FORWARD TO FRIDAY, JUNE 19, 2009. DO YOU REMEMBER AN INCIDENT TAKING PLACE AT REHEARSALS ON THAT DATE, JUNE 19, 2009?
Ortega confirms he does recall an incident taking place.
Ortega states he was at rehearsals and it had been a good day at rehearsals. He states when Michael arrived he "didn't appear well at all".
Walgren: WHAT DID YOU PHYSICALLY OBSERVE YOURSELF?
Ortega: I, ALONG WITH OTHERS, OBSERVED THAT MICHAEL WAS CHILLED AND SOFT-SPOKEN. AND HE SEEMED, YOU KNOW, JUST NOT WELL.
Ortega states that Michael did not indicate to him that he did not feel well. Ortega gathered the impression Michael was not well via physical observation of Michael.
Ortega states he had concerns about Michael when he noted his appearance. Ortega felt he was not in a condition suitable for rehearsals, that he "did not seem well enough to be there".
Walgren: DID MICHAEL, IN FACT, THEN REHEARSE ON THAT DATE OF JUNE 19, 2009?
Ortega states he did not. Walgren asks what did Michael do instead.
Ortega: HE OPTED OUT OF REHEARSALS, DID NOT WANT TO GO HOME AT FIRST, AND ASKED IF I WOULD HAVE THE CHOREOGRAPHER STEP ON STAGE AND GO THROUGH HIS MOVEMENTS AND THAT HE WANTED TO SIT OUT AND WATCH REHEARSAL WITH ME AT HIS SIDE.
Ortega states initially they did observe rehearsals from the arena seating area.
Walgren: THEN WHAT HAPPENED?
Ortega: I JUST FELT THAT HE WAS -- HE JUST APPEARED, YOU KNOW, REALLY LOST. IT WAS SCARY. I DIDN'T KNOW WHAT WAS WRONG, BUT I KNEW THAT THERE WAS SOMETHING GOING ON. I COULDN'T PUT MY FINGER ON IT, BUT IT FELT SCARY AND I SAID, "MICHAEL, YOU KNOW, DO YOU REALLY FEEL THIS IS THE BEST PLACE FOR YOU TO BE?" AND I SAID, "OR WOULD YOU RATHER GO HOME, BE WITH FAMILY?" HE SAID, YOU KNOW, "WOULD YOU BE OKAY WITH THAT?" I SAID, "ABSOLUTELY. OF COURSE, I WOULD BE OKAY WITH THAT." AND SO THEN HE LEFT.
Walgren: HAD YOU SEEN MICHAEL IN THAT KIND OF CONDITION PREVIOUSLY?
Ortega is then asked about a meeting that took place at Michael's residence at 100 North Carolwood Drive in Los Angeles. Ortega confirms he attended that meeting. Ortega states he believes he was told about the meeting by Paul Gongaware, Production Manager. Ortega states he did not know what the meeting was about.
Ortega: MICHAEL WAS THERE. DR. MURRAY WAS THERE.
Walgren asks Ortega to identify Murray in court for the record and then continues asking who else was present during the meeting.
Ortega: FRANK DI LEO, MICHAEL'S MANAGER AND RANDY PHILLIPS.
Walgren asks Ortega if he had met Murray before the meeting. He states he had. Ortega states he first met Murray at the house where he was introduced by Michael. Ortega says he believes his introduction to Murray occurred sometime in April or May, 2009.
Walgren asks Ortega what initially occurred at the meeting.
Ortega: IT QUICKLY BECAME CLEAR THAT THE MEETING WASABOUT ME AND THAT THE DOCTOR --
Walgren: DR. MURRAY?
Ortega: DR. MURRAY WAS UPSET THAT I HAD SENT MICHAEL HOME AND DIDN'T ALLOW HIM TO REHEARSE THE NIGHT BEFORE WHICH, OF COURSE, WASN'T WHAT HAPPENED AND ALSO BECAUSE I HAD VOICED MY CONCERNS ABOUT MICHAEL'S HEALTH THAT EVENING OR STATE THAT EVENING, THAT DR. MURRAY TOLD ME THAT THIS WAS NOT MY RESPONSIBILITY AND ASKED ME TO NOT ACT LIKE A DOCTOR OR A PSYCHOLOGIST, AND TO BE THE DIRECTOR OF THE SHOW AND TO LEAVE MICHAEL'S HEALTH TO HIM.
Walgren: OKAY. WHAT WAS DR. MURRAY'S DEMEANOR AS HE IS SAYING THESE THINGS TO YOU?
Ortega is asked if he tried to explain the situation and states he did, that he tried to explain it was not about preventing Michael from going on stage.
Ortega: YEAH. I TRIED TO EXPLAIN THAT IT WASN'T ABOUT PREVENTING MICHAEL FROM GOING ON STAGE. THAT IT WAS A CHOICE THAT WE MADE TOGETHER. THAT IN MY OPINION I DIDN'T FEEL MICHAEL WAS HEALTHY ENOUGH TO BE ON STAGE. IT COULD HAVE PUT HIM IN DANGER OR OTHERS. AND THAT MICHAEL'S LEAVING WAS MICHAEL'S CHOICE AND NOT MINE. YOU KNOW, THAT I SUPPORTED IT, BUT IT WAS MICHAEL'S CHOICE.
Walgren asks Ortega if Murray elaborated any about what role Ortega should have versus the role Murray had.
Ortega: JUST THAT IT WAS BETTER FOR ALL THAT I FOCUS ON DIRECTING THE SHOW AND NOT CONCERNING MYSELF WITH MICHAEL'S HEALTH BECAUSE HE SAID MICHAEL WAS PHYSICALLY AND EMOTIONALLY FINE AND WAS CAPABLE OF HANDLING ALL OF HIS RESPONSIBILITIES WITH THE SHOW, AND THAT SHOULD NOT BE MY CONCERN.
Ortega confirms this is what Murray told him.
Ortega states it was a "long weekend" and there were no rehearsals scheduled for June 20th. He states rehearsals resumed on Tuesday, June 23rd at the Staples Center.
Walgren asks Ortega how that rehearsal went. Ortega states it went over "fantastic". He states Michael was in great form and was like his original self, "the Michael we all knew and loved". He states Michael was excited and took the reins and was there not only to rehearse but also to answer creative questions. He states he was in a delightful mood and reiterates the day was "fantastic".
Ortega states that the June 24th rehearsal was "similar" to the rehearsal June 23rd--he was active in rehearsal and the production. Ortega confirms this would be Michael's last rehearsal.
Walgren: DO YOU RECALL A CONVERSATION YOU HAD WITH MICHAEL AT THE CONCLUSION OF THE REHEARSAL WHERE HE ASKED YOU IF YOU WERE HAPPY?
Ortega: WE HAD TWO WONDERFUL DAYS OF REHEARSALS. SO MUCH CAME TOGETHER IN THOSE TWO DAYS. I WAS FEELING SO GOOD AND SO CONFIDENT, AND I THINK IT WAS FELT EVERYWHERE IN THE ENTIRE ROOM. MICHAEL ASKED ME IF I WAS HAPPY, AND I SAID "I'M VERY HAPPY." AND I ASKED HIM IF HE WAS HAPPY, AND HE SAID HE WAS VERY, VERY HAPPY. THAT HE FELT THE DREAM, YOU KNOW, THERE. HE ASKED ME TO THANK EVERYONE ON THE CREW AND ALL THE ARTISTS FOR ALL THEIR HARD WORK OVER THE LAST COUPLE OF NIGHTS, AND TELL EVERYBODY HE LOVED THEM AND APPRECIATED THE HARD WORK THEY WERE PUTTING IN. AND I TALKED TO HIM ABOUT WHAT THE NEXT DAY'S REHEARSAL WAS, AND HE WAS EXCITED BECAUSE WE WERE GOING TO REHEARSE AN ILLUSION.
Ortega explains the illusion was part of the tour and the equipment for the illusion was coming into the station the next day. After the discussion about the illusion, Ortega said they said their goodnights and wrapped rehearsals up shortly thereafter.
Ortega states he learned of the events on June 25th while at rehearsals at the Staples Center. He believes he learned of the events via a telephone call from Paul Gongaware.
Walgren asks Ortega if he had asked Gongaware to share something, information or a message, with Michael. Ortega clarifies the question.
Ortega: NO. THAT WAS EARLIER. THAT WASN'T AT THAT POINT WHEN I RECEIVED THAT CALL.
Walgren: I'M SORRY. EARLIER ON THURSDAY, JUNE 25, DID YOU SPEAK TO RANDY PHILLIPS?
Ortega states he did. Walgren asks Ortega what he told Phillips.
Ortega: I WAS ON MY WAY TO REHEARSAL, AND I KNEW THAT RANDY WAS PICKING MICHAEL UP THAT DAY. THEY WERE MEETING FOR SOME REASON, THEN HE WAS GOING TO BRING HIM TO REHEARSAL. I SAID, "PLEASE LET MICHAEL KNOW HOW EXCITED, HOW GREAT I FEEL ABOUT THE LAST COUPLE OF DAYS AND HOW MUCH I'M LOOKING FORWARD TO HIM, YOU KNOW, REHEARSING THIS AFTERNOON." AND RANDY SAID TO ME, "I THOUGHT YOU WERE CALLING FOR A DIFFERENT REASON. I'M AT THE HOUSE, AND THERE IS AN AMBULANCE LEAVING THE PROPERTY."
Walgren completes his direct examination of Ortega.
CROSS-EXAMINATION: BY MR. CHERNOFF
Chernoff asks Ortega if he has good reputation as a choreographer in the community. Ortega states he would think he does. Chernoff asks if the survival of the success of the show would affect or enhance his reputation as a choreographer. Ortega believes so. Chernoff then asks if it had been a bad show, if "This Is It" had been a failure, if it would have also affected his reputation. Ortega disagrees. Chernoff then begins to ask about the assembling of dancers to which Ortega notifies him he was not the choreographer for the show. Ortega states he was the director and creator along with Michael. Chernoff again asks if the show had turned out to be poor, could this affect his reputation? Ortega states it could have, but he did not worry about such in this situation.
Chernoff: YOU TALKED ABOUT THIS MEETING THAT WAS HELD ON JUNE 20, AND YOU SAID THAT IT WAS HELD BECAUSE OF YOU. THAT WAS YOUR IMPRESSION; IS THAT RIGHT?
Ortega: WELL, THE PART OF THE MEETING THAT I WAS THERE FOR WAS ABOUT ME.
Chernoff: DID YOU THINK IT WAS CALLED BECAUSE OF YOU?
Ortega states he felt it was and upon his arrival it became "all about" him. Ortega states he did not know who called the meeting.
Chernoff tries to state Paul Gongaware was at the meeting but Ortega corrects him stating he was not at the meeting. Ortega confirms DiLeo was at the meeting. Ortega confirms DiLeo was Michael's manager.
Chernoff: WHAT ABOUT RANDY PHILLIPS. WHO IS RANDY PHILLIPS?
Ortega: RANDY PHILLIPS WAS THE PROMOTER FOR "THIS IS IT."
Chernoff asks if Phillips was an elite within the company AEG. Ortega confirms he is.
Chernoff: NOW, YOU SAID THAT ON THE 19TH, YOU OBSERVED MICHAEL JACKSON TO BE SWEATING AND COLD. IS THAT WHAT YOU SAID?
Ortega: NOT SWEATING. CHILLED.
Chernoff and Ortega wage words about whether or not Ortega had ever seen Michael appearing ill.
Chernoff: IS THIS THE FIRST TIME HE HAD EVER COME TO THE REHEARSALS AND LOOKED LIKE HE COULDN'T PERFORM?
Ortega states "yes".
Chernoff: AND YOU HAD NO REASON TO SUSPECT, YOU ARE SAYING, PRIOR TO THAT TIME THAT HE WAS SICKLY OR HAD ANY PROBLEMS THAT WOULD MAKE IT DIFFICULT FOR HIM TO PERFORM?
Ortega: YOU KNOW, I CAN'T ANSWER THAT IN A SIMPLE YES OR NO. IF YOU WANT TO REPHRASE IT.
Chernoff declines to rephrase and tells Ortega he can answer however he wishes.
Ortega: FOR THE MOST PART, I BELIEVED THAT WE WERE HEADED TO GREATNESS AND THAT MICHAEL'S VISION WAS GOING TO BE ACCOMPLISHED, AND THAT THERE WERE TIMES WHERE I, YOU KNOW, QUESTIONED IT, YOU KNOW.
Chernoff asks why he questioned there were times he was uncertain at times.
Ortega: JUST BECAUSE MICHAEL WASN'T ALWAYS -- DIDN'T ALWAYS SHOW UP. HE HAD A PERIOD OF TIME WHERE HE WAS SORT OF MISSING AND JUST CREATED ANXIETY FOR ME BECAUSE I WAS THERE TO, YOU KNOW, HONOR THIS COMMITMENT. AND IT WAS DIFFICULT TO MOVE FORWARD WITHOUT MICHAEL'S INVOLVEMENT BECAUSE HE WAS THE PERSON THAT HAD TO MAKE DECISIONS.
Ortega confirms he needed Michael's help and he was not there at times. Ortega states he did not know why he was not showing up to rehearsals.
Ortega confirms Michael was shaking, cold and soft-spoken.
Chernoff: WAS THERE ANYTHING ELSE YOU OBSERVED DURING THAT TIME THAT YOU COULD HELP US UNDERSTAND HOW HE WAS?
Ortega: HE JUST SEEMED LIKE SORT OF, YOU KNOW, IN HIMSELF, YOU KNOW. HE JUST SEEMED TO BE IN A STATE THAT DIDN'T SEEM LIKE HE WAS, YOU KNOW, PRESENT LIKE HE NORMALLY WAS.
Ortega is asked if he appeared to be in pain or was nauseous. He states he was not sure, he was confused and troubled by his state. Ortega states he was "thrown" by Michael's appearance on the 19th.
Chernoff: NOW, LET'S GO BACK TO THE MEETING ON THE 20TH. YOU WOULD AGREE WITH ME THAT THE NUMBER OF PEOPLE AND THE PEOPLE THAT WERE PRESENT AT THAT MEETING WAS NOTEXACTLY INDICATIVE OF A MEETING YOU HAD WHEN SOMEONE GETS SICK FOR ONE DAY. YOU HAD A LOT OF PEOPLE THERE TALKING ABOUT MICHAEL JACKSON'S CONDITION, RIGHT?
Walgren objects. Chernoff re-asks the question.
Chernoff: YOU HAD A LOT OF PEOPLE THERE AT THAT MEETING ON JUNE 20, INCLUDING THE HEAD OF PRODUCTION AT A.E.G., RIGHT?
Ortega: FIRST OF ALL, I DON'T KNOW THAT RANDY IS THE HEAD OF PRODUCTION AT A.E.G. THERE WAS MICHAEL, MYSELF, DR. MURRAY, RANDY PHILLIPS, AND MICHAEL'S MANAGER.
Chernoff attempts to ask Ortega who is Phillip's superior or boss. Ortega states he does not know but it may be someone named "Phil Liwiky" (Perhaps he was thinking of Tim Leiweke and/or Phil Anschutz.)
Chernoff: THE CONVERSATION AT THE MEETING ON JUNE 20, AS YOU RECALL, WAS ABOUT THE FACT THAT JACKSON HAD BEEN SICK ON FREQUENT OCCASIONS AND HAD BEEN MISSING REHEARSALS. DO YOU REMEMBER THAT CONVERSATION?
Ortega states he does not recall such.
Chernoff: DO YOU REMEMBER THREE WEEKS PRIOR TO THAT MEETING YOU HAD THE SAME TYPE OF MEETING AT MR. JACKSON'S RESIDENCE ON CAROLWOOD AND THE SAME MEMBERS WERE PRESENT AT THAT MEETING. DO YOU REMEMBER THAT?
Ortega states he does not.
Chernoff: YOU DON'T REMEMBER RANDY PHILLIPS, GONGAWARE, DI LEO, AND DR. MURRAY PRESENT THREE WEEKS PRIOR?
Ortega again states he does not recall such.
Chernoff asks Ortega if he began directing "This Is It" toward the end of April. Ortega states it was more like the middle of April.
Chernoff asks how many rehearsals Michael missed from mid-April until June 19th.
Ortega: HE MISSED A NUMBER OF REHEARSALS IN A PERIOD. IT WASN'T -- IT WAS LATER IN REHEARSAL THAT HE SUDDENLY WAS MISSING FROM REHEARSALS.
Ortega confirms there was some discussion with AEG and others about Michael missing those rehearsals. Ortega states he believes there was some concern, at least from his perspective.
Chernoff: ON THE 19TH, THOUGH, THAT WAS THE FIRST TIME THAT YOU HAD EVER SEEN HIM IN THAT PARTICULAR CONDITION, RIGHT?
Ortega confirms this to be true.
Chernoff asks Ortega if he has ever had any experience with drug withdrawal, as in, seeing someone go through it. Ortega denies ever having experience with such.
Chernoff: DO YOU RECALL AT THE MEETING ON THE 20TH YELLING AT MICHAEL JACKSON, TELLING HIM HE NEEDED TO GET BACK INTO THE SHOW, TO START SHOWING UP, TO START OPERATING BETTER? DO YOU REMEMBER THAT CONVERSATION?
Ortega states he does not recall such.
Chernoff asks Ortega if he recalls having a discussion with Karen Faye, Michael's make-up and hair artist.
Chernoff asks Ortega if he recalls having a conversation with Faye after the meeting held on the 20th about the meeting itself that occurred at Carolwood. Ortega states he cannot recall having a meeting or discussion with her that meeting.
Chernoff: DO YOU RECALL TELLING KAREN FAY THAT YOU READ MICHAEL JACKSON THE RIOT ACT?
Walgren objects but the objections is overruled.
Ortega states "no".
Chernoff: IF SHE WERE TO REMEMBER THAT, SHE WOULD HAVE MISREMEMBERED THAT?
Walgren objects and sustains the objection.
Chernoff asks Ortega if he recalls advising Faye not to "placate" Michael. Ortega states he does not know what "placate" means. Chernoff asks Ortega if he ever advised Faye how to treat Michael after June 20th. He states he did not. Chernoff is asked to re-ask his questions and Ortega states he does not recall discussing anything with Faye regarding how she should treat Michael.
Chernoff asks Ortega when Michael left rehearsals on the 19th. Ortega states mid-evening but states he cannot recall a time, that the times would fluctuate. Chernoff asks if it was midnight or 1:00 a.m. Ortega estimates it was around 8:00 p.m. or 9:00 p.m.
Chernoff: DO YOU RECALL WHAT TIME HE SHOWED UP FOR THAT MEETING?
Ortega states it was a few hours before.
Ortega states Michael stayed about 2-3 hours at rehearsals on the 19th.
Ortega is asked when the meeting on the 20th was called. He states he believes it was in the afternoon or late morning. He believes he received the call to attend the meeting sometime earlier that morning.
Ortega denies that the meeting appeared to be an emergency meeting. He states he was simply told to show up for a meeting.
Ortega confirms that when he began working with Michael, "This Is It" was already scheduled to be 50 shows. He states he does not know how many were scheduled earlier. Ortega states he recalls hearing something to the effect that the number of shows had been increased "by popular demand" to perhaps 30 shows. Ortega states he does recall having a conversation with Michael about the increase in the number of shows. Ortega states he cannot recall when that discussion took place. Ortega states Michael was excited "by the historic proportions of doing 50 shows".
Chernoff: LET ME SEE IF I CAN NARROW IT DOWN FOR YOU. DO YOU THINK THAT YOUR INVOLVEMENT IN THE SHOW WAS DIRECTLY RELATED TO THE INCREASE IN THE SHOWS?
Ortega: NO, ABSOLUTELY NOT. TICKET SALES, I BELIEVE, WERE WHAT CAUSED IT.
Chernoff clarifies he does not meant to imply the increase in shows was related to Ortega's hiring but rather he was hired to help because the number of shows had increased to 50 shows.
Ortega: I WAS HIRED. MICHAEL WANTED ME FROM THE MOMENT THAT HE DECIDED THAT HE WANTED TO DO THE SHOWS.
Chernoff asks Ortega if he was aware that the tour was announced in February (Michael took part in a press conference in March while the actual "This Is It" contract (or letter of intent) with AEG was signed in late January). Chernoff asks if there was anyone else in Ortega's position or role within "This Is It" before he was hired.
Walgren objects but is overruled. Ortega states he does not remember when he was actually invited to be a part of the tour. He does state there was some time between his hiring and then announcement of the tour.
Ortega confirms he had involvement in the "This Is It" documentary. He confirms he was part of the production of the movie. Chernoff confirms there was rough footage of "This Is It".
Chernoff asks when filming began for "This Is It"?
Ortega: WE DIDN'T FILM FOR THAT DOCUMENTARY, EVER. MICHAEL USED CAMERAS TO CAPTURE THE REHEARSAL PROCESS FOR HIS OWN PERSONAL USE AS A DIRECTOR AND CREATOR AND CHOREOGRAPHER AND ARTIST. AND THE FILMING OF THE INTERVIEWS PORTION OF "THIS IS IT" WERE TO BE USED FOR A POTENTIAL LATER THEATRICAL SHOOT OF THE SHOW, SHOWS IN LONDON.
Chernoff: SO LET ME REPHRASE THE QUESTION. WHEN WAS FILMING STARTED ON MICHAEL JACKSON'S REHEARSALS FOR THE DOCUMENTARY?
Ortega: WE NEVER STARTED SHOOTING ANYTHING FOR THE DOCUMENTARY. THE DOCUMENTARY WAS NEVER A PLAN.
Chernoff: SO ARE YOU SAYING THAT FROM APRIL, MAY AND JUNE, THERE IS CAMERA FOOTAGE OF ALMOST EVERY SINGLE REHEARSAL?
Ortega: THOSE WERE FOR MICHAEL'S PERSONAL USE AND FOR OUR USE TOGETHER TO OBSERVE REHEARSALS.
Chernoff: SO THEY EXIST SOMEWHERE, THAT FOOTAGE?
Ortega concurs. Chernoff asks where.
Ortega: THERE WEREN'T ALWAYS CAMERAS ROLLING. THE CAMERAS DIDN'T START ROLLING -- WELL, SOMETIMES HE HAD A PRIVATE CAMERA ROLLING, AND SOMETIMES WE HAD CAMERAS ROLLING AT REHEARSAL. IT WAS ALWAYS IF HE ASKED IT. IT WAS PER HIS REQUEST. FOR NO ONE ELSE.
(If this was Michael's personal footage, why did AEG own it upon his death rather than the Michael Jackson Estate? I am under the impression the footage belonged to AEG and was sold to Sony, with the Estate earning profits from the film but not having any rights at any time.)
Chernoff asks where that footage is but Walgren objects. Ortega states he does not know.
Ortega is asked if he did any filming himself and states he did not. He denies knowing whether or not choreographer Travis Payne did any of his own filming.
Chernoff asks when Ortega called Gongaware on June 25th. Ortega states it was Gongaware who called him that afternoon to let him know Michael had passed.
Chernoff attempts to ask what Gongaware had told Ortega on the phone regarding calling him for "another reason". However, this was actually Phillips who made this statement. Chernoff does not recall this notion and ends his cross-examination.
REDIRECT EXAMINATION: MR. WALGREN
Walgren: MR. ORTEGA, JUST A COUPLE OF QUESTIONS. MR. CHERNOFF ASKED YOU ABOUT MICHAEL JACKSON MISSING SOME REHEARSALS, AND YOU HAD STATED IN ONE OF YOUR ANSWERS THAT IN REFERENCE TO MID APRIL TO JUNE 19, AS MR. CHERNOFF PHRASED IT, YOU SAID, WELL, HE MISSED SOME SHOWS BUT IT WAS IN A PERIOD OF TIME WITHIN THOSE DATES. IS THAT ACCURATE?
Ortega states there was a period where it was "accumulated days" that Michael had missed rehearsals. He states the period of time was a week. Ortega states it was early to mid-June.
Walgren: SO EARLY JUNE FOR ABOUT A WEEK, MICHAEL MISSED A SERIES OF REHEARSALS?
Walgren: SO THIS WAS NOT A RECURRING PATTERN AT LEAST FROM WHAT YOU OBSERVED THROUGHOUT REHEARSALS, BUT A PERIOD OF TIME THE BEGINNING WEEK OF JUNE?
Ortega again confirms this to be accurate.
Ortega again confirms he had already met Murray before the missed rehearsals.
Ortega is asked again about yelling at Michael during the meeting held on the 20th. He states it was "emotional".
(Side note--why was there an "emotional" discussion between Michael and Ortega if the meeting was about Ortega and his interference with Murray's job as a physician?)
Walgren: DESCRIBE YOUR INTERACTION WITH HIM?
Ortega: I'D BE HAPPY TO. HE SAID, "I KNOW YOU LOVE ME AND CARE FOR ME, AND I KNOW YOU'RE LOOKING OUT FOR MY BEST INTEREST, BUT YOU DON'T HAVE TO WORRY. I'M FINE. I CAN TAKE THE REINS. I CAN HANDLE THIS." AND IT WAS MICHAEL'S VOICE THAT CALMED ME AND THAT STEPPED ME BACK, AND THAT I RESPECTFULLY, YOU KNOW, ACCEPTED AS OKAY, YOU KNOW. AND THAT HE GAVE ME A BIG HUG, AND HE SAID, "DON'T WORRY. THERE IS NOTHING TO WORRY ABOUT. WE CAN DO THIS. WE WILL DO THIS." AND, YOU KNOW, IF THERE WAS ANY VOICES, IT WASN'T YELLING. IT WAS ABOUT CARING.
Walgren asks if this was between him and Michael and Ortega states it was. Walgren then concludes his re-direct examination.
RECROSS-EXAMINATION: MR. CHERNOFF
Chernoff asks if Michael was set to rehearse on the 25th. Ortega states he was, he was to arrive that afternoon. Ortega states there was a schedule, rather than Michael picking when to arrive. Ortega states he believes Michael was to arrive that afternoon at approximately 4:00 p.m. or 4:30 p.m. Chernoff concludes his re-cross examination and Ortega is excused.