Michael Jackson and Jack Wishna in 2007
Now that I’ve reestablished my connection with the blog I have to be quick as I can lose touch with it any minute, so I will post shorter pieces just as they come. My notes will not be connected with Katherine’s suit – at least not at the moment. The suit was narrowed down to so little that now it is a purely technical matter limited by highly artificial boundaries. The same thing happened at Conrad Murray’s trial when not a single question was asked about AEG Live and no one was allowed to see the fuller picture.
In my opinion the truth of what happened with Michael Jackson is much more complex and goes far beyond the boundaries of Katherine’s suit. That is why I am now trying to recreate a broader picture of Michael’s life for the last couple of years prior to this death. And while doing it I am trying to find answers to questions which really baffle me.
The first baffling question is the discrepancy between what the AEG people said and thought about Michael’s health. The fact that they presented to the world a glorious picture of Michael’s condition does not surprise me a bit – they wanted to sell him and would have said anything to anyone. But what amazed me was that despite their doubts in his health, voiced in those leaked emails, they still booked him for 50 concerts. If they thought him to be so poor a case why did they set those 50 concerts then? Why bother with all this mess if you have to return the tickets anyway?
Let me also note that the autopsy report showed Michael to be an exceptionally healthy man for an average 50 year old, so whatever AEG said in their emails will remain the matter of their conscience – if they have it of course.
Another question was why their production process was so slow – the dancers were enrolled very late, less than two months before the premiere (one of the sources says May 19th was when the cast was finally selected) and this was inexcusably late for what was supposed to be the show of the century.
Another thing that also worried me was why they shortened the rehearsal period by three whole weeks if they started so late and were so terribly pressed for time? I am talking of July 26 set in the contract as the date of starting the tour and the July 8th date they actually announced.
These questions may look unimportant to you but they were not fitting into the picture and required an answer. And this series of posts (if I manage to make them of course) will be an attempt to answer these questions. But first we need to make a sort of a summary of some events prior to that.
Sorry for not answering your expectations but I am going back much farther than you expected – to the time of Michael’s arrival in the US. I still need to tell you about one man in Michael’s surrounding. His name is Jack Wisha.
MICHAEL COMES BACK TO THE US
Michael was brought back to the US by a Las Vegas dealmaker Jack Wishna. He wanted to create and run a permanent Las Vegas show for Michael Jackson as well as a Rock City Club project where Michael was supposed to perform only three times a month – the rest of the time was to be given to new artists whom Michael was going to present:
Wishna was suggesting the idea to Michael even at the beginning of 2009, but Michael evidently did not agree as he was getting ready for the AEG project. But in December 2006 when Michael was returning to the US from Ireland he very much excited about this and other projects Wishna had for him.
Michael, the children and nanny arrived from Ireland by a private plane on December 23d, 2006. At the airport they were met by Wishna and his wife Donna who took them to the house Jack rented for Michael for a year at the price of $1mln. The Wishnas had a great Christmas tree set up in Michael’s house with presents for him and the children.
The price of the annual rent for the Vegas house is probably the only thing I don’t like about Wishna – it looks to me too speculative. It also created for Michael a certain idea of the level of prices for renting houses in the US, and this is probably why Tohme’s offer of $100,000 a month ($1,2mln a year) for a house in Los Angeles did not surprise Michael very much though I hear that it is also unreasonably high.
When Michael arrived he was full of energy and produced on Wishna the impression of stepping direct from the Bad era. He was in great spirits, but gradually his old anxiety came back. The media and public kept painting Michael a criminal despite his full acquittal in 2005, and greeted him with the usual hate and mockery which he surely didn’t expect after the comfort he enjoyed in Ireland.
In Wishna’s view it was also Jackson’s father Joe and some other members of the family who greatly contributed to the stress at the time. They were evidently dogging him with money problems which Michael could not help anyway as he was in the financial straits himself. The family would later say that they were going to stage some “interventions” though why they would intend to stage them is unclear – the people who met Michael at the time did not say anything about him taking any drugs. Jack Wishna did not see any drugs either:
And although Jackson’s use of prescription drugs became big news after his death, Wishna said he never saw any of that kind of stuff around.
“Never saw any drugs,” Wishna said. “Never saw any intravenous, or needles or anything like that. Never met any doctors around Michael.”
It could be only due to the pressure from the outside that Michael sought utter seclusion for himself. He and his children rarely left the mansion. Tohme who for the first time met Michael in Las Vegas in 2008 said that Michael was retreating from everybody but was still practising and writing music (if you remember he was working on the Irish album at the time):
‘When I first met him in Las Vegas, he was out of touch. Michael was secluded and retreating from everybody. It was just him and his kids. He used to use the wheelchair. I said, let’s get rid of this. You have to realise that you had to baby Michael Jackson. I wanted people to see him as a healthy human being.
‘But he was working. We put a stage in his house in Vegas because before he was practising in the local hotels. He was writing music, working with choreographers.
In my opinion Michael was simply afraid of people. What he saw and heard around himself did not encourage him to think that he would get a welcome response if he went on stage. An artist must know that he is loved and appreciated by his audience, and when everyone around calls you a freak and a child molester despite your full acquittal it does not contribute to building your confidence – and confidence is what he needed most for the resumption of his career after a long and hard break.
Let me tell you of the feeling prevailing in the US on the eve of Michael’s arrival from Ireland – here are some typical comments taken from an article about his stay in Ireland. From his high spirits upon arrival in Las Vegas we can imagine that he had not read any of this before starting on his journey:
- He’s way too creepy for the States..
- So no he’s targeting drunken Irish children, I guess he figures he’ll get lucky
- No way can he ruin that beautiful country-kick his ass out Ireland……
- Leave Ireland alone, you freak!!
- To the people of Ireland: Tell your young male children to hide their “Blarney stones”
- I can’t wait till he dies.
At some point of his life in Las Vegas Michael was seen in a wheelchair which could easily be a case of a lupus flair that erupted due to all this stress. Though people mocked at his behavior as ‘antics’ I doubt very much that a wheelchair was actually Michael’s voluntary choice. What it surely created was much negative publicity and it was due to this publicity and Michael’s quickly worsening state that Jack Wishna dropped his initial plans and suggested to Michael other projects which would not involve the necessity for him to perform.
One of them was the Cirque du Soleil project.
Yes, now we find out that this project was Jack Wishna’s idea, only at that time it was supposed to be an anthem of the Beatles. Preliminary meetings with the Cirque du Soleil management did take place, but the plans were never realized as at this point Wishna said that Michael was “wooed” by AEG Live.
“Woo” means “to seek the affection of with intent to romance, to tempt or invite, entreat, solicit, or importune”, and after seeing this type of courtship Wishna had to step aside.
Later Wishna went on with the other projects he had for Michael – the site RockCityClub which he regarded as a new way to discover talent and create rock stars:
One Rolling stone article presenting only AEG’s side of the story claims that Jack Wishna saw Michael “drugged up”. However there is no proof to confirm this statement. As you know Jack Wishna always said exactly the opposite – he never saw Michael take any drugs and he never met any doctors around Michael:
When asked whether he could have obtained drugs Wishna agreed that he could, but suppositions what someone “could have done but didn’t do ” are not the point and it is only the fact that he never saw any drugs that really matters:
“Wishna said he never saw Jackson using drugs, but that he wouldn’t have had any trouble obtaining whatever he wanted—oftentimes from people who didn’t have his best interests at heart.”
Among many other things in this video Jack Wishna is speaking about never seeing Michael take drugs:
Jessie Jackson also saw Michael in the summer of 2007 but noticed no signs of any drug use, and as to Frank Cascio’s family where Michael stayed for about two months since August 19th until October 2007 no one saw any sign of medicine taken, though Frank was specially on the look out for it:
“He was alive and excited, getting back into being creative and free. He and Eddie were working in the studio during the day, and he was playing with an idea for an animated cartoon he hoped to produce. He was happy to be around my family, with whom he could be himself. There was no sign that he was on any sort of medicine. He was back to being Michael.” https://vindicatemj.wordpress.com/2012/12/11/the-documented-evidence-of-michael-jacksons-last-album/
Well, even Tohme who met Michael in Las Vegas in 2008 said that Michael never took drugs:
“He said the star kept himself and his children on a healthy diet, never ate red meat, didn’t drink and, as far as he knew, never took drugs” http://www.today.com/id/31740617#.UUFxuBeeNEI
AEG will surely argue in court that Michael’s poor health was the result of him “taking drugs” (as if drugs may be the only reason for the deterioration of people’s health and there are no natural reasons for it), so the evidence from all these people should never be forgotten by us.
I am more than sure that considering all Michael’s stresses his case was that of “the nerves” and the nerves can trigger almost every disease including lupus.
Besides never saying any fictional things about “drugs” another important Jack Wishna’s difference was that given Michael’s state of health he said and proved it by his deeds that he would have never booked Michael for 50 concerts and at that terrible regimen too. In Wishna’s opinion it was unrealistic even for a fit and young man not top mention a 50 year old like Michael.
The media did not elaborate on his idea but from the little Wishna said we can conclude that he was amazed by how Michael was treated by his new AEG partners. He was a businessman but valued Michael still more than his own profit or success, and even took care of his partner’s well-being by adjusting his plans according to Michael’s state:
The next point from the same article habitually speaks of some “enablers” catering to every Michael’s need, though it is absolutely clear from the context of it that Wishna is talking here about Michael’s business and the fact that Michael does not know his deals, and it is most probably Tohme who he is referring to:
“There were so many people around him that were enablers,” the exec said. “It was one thing after another that just made it very bizarre.”
“Michael has a lot of people around him that cut deals and sometimes Michael doesn’t even know what those deals are,” he added.
The same article clarifies one more thing for us and it is Michael’s attitude to Neverland and total impossibility for him to live there. Jack Wishna says that Michael never wanted to set foot on Neverland again:
The above is very much different from what Tohme wanted for Neverland:
By arguing that Michael should be buried in Neverland Tohme was simply arranging for his friend Tom Barrack another of those profitable deals. Apparently he and Colony Capital wanted to turn Neverland into a goldmine and circus that would draw millions of fans from the whole world to Michael’s grave which was to be put somewhere in between the Ferris Wheel and other Neverland attractions. It was a totally correct decision on Katherine Jackson’s part not to allow this circus to take place.
Jack Wishna regretted very much that he had convinced Michael to come back to the US and said that if he had not brought him from Ireland Michael would still be alive:
“In the interview broadcast on ABC News last evening, Jack Wishna stated: “I will forever feel haunted by the thought that if I did not help convince Jackson to leave Ireland and return to America, would Jackson be alive today.
“Over the years I always thought that maybe if I didn’t move Michael from Ireland back to America, back to Las Vegas, that maybe Michael would be alive today,” says entertainment power broker Jack Wishna, president of Rockrena, Inc.
That is absolutely true – if Michael had stayed in Ireland he would be alive today. But I can take this idea further and add that if Michael had stayed in his business with Wishna he would surely be alive now too.
Don’t know about his finances though, probably not that bad either, but as to his health he would be perfectly okay – this I have no doubts about.
Wishna’s own life ended in November last year. He was 54 when he was found sitting in his Bentley in a garage dead from “carbon monoxide intoxication”. The police ruled it to be a suicide. For his friends his death became a big surprise though some said he looked somewhat depressed prior to that.
* * *
The above will hopefully fill in the gap between Michael’s stay in Ireland and his meeting Tohme and eventual move to Los Angeles.