As his anticipated comeback tour approached, Michael Jackson appeared to have lost weight and had failed to show up for rehearsals, an associate producer of the “This Is It” concert series testified Wednesday.
Alif Sankey, who was under contract with AEG while preparing for the London concerts, said she wrote an email to the show’s director, Kenny Ortega, asking to help return Michael “back into a magical life.”
“I wanted to be a part of him being encouraged, being enlightened, believing in himself, believing that we all believed in him, that he could do this,” Sankey said.
Ortega, she said, was frustrated with Jackson's absences.
Sankey testified that Jackson failed to show up to rehearsals during the first week of June 2009 and that the show’s choreographer told her the singer complained of soreness.
Sankey also said that she noticed Jackson at one point had holes on the bottom of his dance shoes.
The producer also spoke about Jackson’s relationship with his children.
“They loved him, they loved their daddy,” she said, and spoke about sitting at a rehearsal with Paris, who kept a purse full of candy and small framed photos of her father.
Jackson himself appeared eager to perform with his children around, she said.
“He was excited to show his kids, finally, to show who he was and what he was all about,” Sankey said. “He was very happy and excited about all of that.”
Sankey first met Jackson when she danced in the video for his 1987 hit “Smooth Criminal,” in what she called the best job of her 30-year career.
“We got to see Michael’s imagination come to life,” she said. “That was my first time as a dancer, as an artist, that I was completely inspired by his craft and inspired by his attention to every detail. … It was magical to work with him, just absolutely magical and I dream still to this day that I will create on that level of magic that Michael created on. It was like living a dream.”
The Jacksons' attorney showed a clip from the singer's video "Smooth Criminal." Katherine Jackson, sitting in the front row, appeared to dab tears from her eyes with a tissue.