- Associated Press - Thursday, June 23, 2011

LOS ANGELES (AP) - Sony Pictures Entertainment has agreed to provide a private screening for Dr. Conrad Murray and his defense attorneys to view some 100 hours of raw footage of Michael Jackson’s rehearsals for his “This Is It” concert.

But according to documents filed in court Thursday they won’t be allowed to make public statements about what they see.

A stipulation reached by both sides said that Murray and his lawyers will have access to 21 boxes containing audio-visual recordings of Jackson’s rehearsals which became the basis for a concert movie after his death.

Murray has pleaded not guilty to involuntary manslaughter in the superstar’s death on June 25, 2009, from an overdose of the anesthetic propofol and other sedatives. His trial begins in September.

The issue arose when Murray’s prosecutors announced they planned to show jurors excerpts from the theatrically released concert movie, “Michael Jackson’s This Is It,” to show Jackson was in good health in the days before his death.

The defense wants to show otherwise. Those lawyers contend scenes showing Jackson in frail health during rehearsals may have been edited out of the movie.

They said there are more than 100 hours of footage from which the movie was derived. Jackson was rehearsing for a planned concert in London when he died. The movie was issued posthumously.

Sony resisted the defense request at first and the company’s lawyer, Gary Bostwick, said he was concerned the material would leak out and go viral on the Internet.

Superior Court Judge Michael Pastor said at a previous hearing that access to any footage would come with restrictions to prevent it from being disseminated on the Internet and elsewhere.

“If Michael Jackson materials are just out there, there could be amazing consequences for Sony and the Jackson estate,” the judge said. “I’m not inclined to order that they just turn them over.”

The parties later reached agreement.

Sony has agreed to allow Dr. Murray and his counsel to inspect and view the materials in question at a location to be designated by Sony Pictures Entertainment,” the stipulation said.

After the viewing, it said, lawyers will prepare a log of segments they want to obtain for use in Murray’s case.

It specified that neither Murray nor his agents or attorneys will make any public statements about “the content or nature of the materials, their storage, their location or their quality.”

The only issue left for the judge to resolve is who will pay the costs of personnel required for the viewing and copying of segments designated by the defense..

A hearing on the issue is scheduled for Friday but lawyers for both sides indicated in the papers they will ask for the matter to be continued to July 27.

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