Driver: Documentary crew ‘owned’ Jackson doctor
LOS ANGELES (AP) - The doctor convicted of causing Michael Jackson’s death was given perks by producers of a documentary on his case, a security guard who drove the physician to-and-from court daily said Friday.
Louis Perry, head of Kadima Security Services, said producers often took Murray to booze-filled dinners at upscale restaurants, paid for a 12-seat van outfitted with cameras and may have paid for the tailored suit Murray wore on Monday when he was convicted of involuntary manslaughter.
Perry said he was never paid for his work as Murray’s driver and security detail, but the physician gave him permission to talk to reporters about what he saw.
“They paid to have full access,” Perry said. “They were shadowing his every move.”
It remains unclear whether the perks Murray received run afoul of regulations intended to prevent convicts from profiting from their crime.
Perry said he didn’t comply with a request to allow Murray to be filmed right before Monday’s verdict was read, and refused to grant the filmmakers the right to use his likeness in the documentary titled “Michael Jackson and the Doctor: A Fatal Friendship.” The documentary has aired in England and will premiere Friday night in the United States on MSNBC.
Perry said he couldn’t estimate how much was spent on Murray during the six-week trial. He said he wasn’t sure if producers paid for Murray’s new wardrobe, but he was told to bring the doctor to an upscale department store where a tailor was waiting for him. The doctor received several suits, clothes and ties after that trip, he said.
He said Murray was wearing one of the suits he received after the fitting on Monday, when a seven-man, five-woman jury convicted him.
Producers took Murray to dinners at high-end Beverly Hills restaurants where they had “elaborate dinners” complete with expensive wines, champagne and tequila, Perry said.
“You can tell when somebody’s owned,” he said. “They owned him. It was obvious.”
Murray’s spokesman, Mark Fierro, said he had not seen reports on Perry’s account and could not immediately comment on them.
A spokesman for MSNBC’s parent company, NBCUniversal, reiterated an earlier statement that it had licensed the project from the Britain-based company Zodiak Rights and the deal included a promotional interview with Murray that has been airing on NBC’s “Today.”
“Neither Dr. Murray nor his legal defense were compensated in any way,” the statement reads.
Zodiak Productions, which announced hours after Murray’s conviction that it had sold the documentary to broadcasters in several countries, also did not return an email message seeking comment.
The man paying the bills was Leon Lecash, a British producer whose company _ which is named what’s it all about? productions _ secured rights to Murray’s story before he was charged with Jackson’s death in February 2010, Perry said.