Michael Jackson

Michael Jackson and his mother, Katherine, arrive at Santa Barbara County courthouse in 2005. (Carlo Allegri / Getty Images / June 1, 2005)

“Because he’s one of the biggest stars of the world, if not the biggest star in the world,” Phillips said. “And the idea of helping him come back, you know, and helping him get on the stage again -- one of the greatest parts of my career.”

Phillips disputed various portrayals of Jackson, describing the singer as someone actively engaged in his comeback who knew “who he wanted to work with and how he wanted to do it.”

“We seem to be talking about Michael like he’s the 5-year-old singer in the Jackson Five and he wasn’t,” Phillips said. “He was a sophisticated, very smart, articulate, 50-year-old man who had control of his life.”

“He’s been presented as a drug-addled 5-year-old and that’s not the man I dealt with,” he said. “The man I dealt with was forceful, kind -- but determined. And a force. He was a force.”

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