Michael Jackson’s Final Days!

In interviews for this week’s EW cover story on This Is It, Michael Jackson’s collaborators shared new details about the pop star’s final rehearsals for his planned comeback concerts and the day the shocking news of his death broke. Throughout the rehearsals, those around Jackson were often concerned about his health but didn’t see any major cause for alarm. Choreographer Travis Payne remembers, “Michael would come in and say, ‘I didn’t sleep last night.’ But then we’d be on set and you’d see he had his A-game, so you didn’t really question it.” As for Jackson’s apparent prescription drug abuse, director Kenny Ortega says, “Honestly, we were clueless.”

On June 25, when Michael Jackson was rushed by paramedics to UCLA Medical Center, Randy Phillips, the president of the concert promotion firm AEG Live, followed the ambulance and watched as the emergency room team tried to save his life. “I’ll never forget this: There were all these people running around, frantically trying to revive him. [Jackson’s personal physician] Dr. Murray was in there, and he was completely a mess. A nurse came out and said, ‘Where is Mrs. Jackson?’ Michael’s parents weren’t there yet — they’d gotten lost. They’d gone to St. John’s Hospital in Santa Monica. The nurse said, ‘He’s on life support.’ I said, ‘What exactly does that mean?’ She told us he was brain dead but still breathing.” Phillips says he himself informed Jackson’s children of their father’s death. “It was the hardest thing I’ve ever lived through. I’ll never forget the look of fear in their faces.”  To read more of this interview visit EW