Conrad Murray [File photo]
Michael Jackson's estate condemned Wednesday a TV documentary featuring the star's convicted doctor Conrad Murray, set to be aired days after the medic was found guilty of manslaughter in the King of Pop's 2009 death.
The estate of Michael Jackson said the program -- along with an interview in which Murray quotes Jackson's last words as "begging" for propofol, the drug that killed him -- was "reprehensible," and urged broadcasters including MSNBC not to air it.
"Like so many of Michael's fans, the estate is... disgusted by MSNBC's irresponsible and inexplicable decision to air a Conrad Murray 'documentary,'" it said about the show, "Michael Jackson and the Doctor, A Fatal Friendship."
The estate's co-executors John Branca and John McClain sent a letter to the top executives of Comcast, NBC Universal and MSNBC "to express their disdain for their actions," it added in a statement.
The show, scheduled to be aired Friday in the United States and in Britain within the next week, includes interviews with Murray in the months leading up to his trial in Los Angeles, which ended with his conviction of involuntary manslaughter Monday.
In an interview with the "Today" show which will be part the MSNBC special, Murray notably recounts the hours before Jackson's death, when the star was begging for "milk" -- his word for propofol, which he had been using to help him sleep.
"He was pleading, and begging me, to please, please, let him have some milk," Murray says in the documentary. "That was the only thing that would work. He really could not sleep," he says, according to MSNBC.
Murray was remanded in custody after being found guilty of Jackson's death on June 25, 2009 in Los Angeles, where the star was rehearsing for a series of comeback concerts in London.
He faces up to four years in jail, and is due back in court on November 29 for sentencing.
In the estate's letter, a copy of which was obtained by AFP, it said: "No sooner was Conrad Murray ordered led away in handcuffs... than we discovered your MSNBC network inexplicably will showcase him in primetime... as if he is worth of celebrity.
"The mere title of your 'documentary'... is bewildering. Since when was Dr. Murray ever Michael Jackson's friend?".
Excerpts from the show so far broadcast suggested that Murray, "who refused to tell his story under penalty of perjury in a court of law, apparently has no qualms about smearing the reputation of his 'friend,'" it said.
It questioned reported claims by production company October Films that Murray was only paid $1 for his role in the documentary, in which he was followed around by cameras for two years "as if he is his own reality television show."
"It doesn't matter to us if it was a production company, Comcast, NBC, Universal or MSNBC that paid for 'access' to Dr Murray, because all are morally culpable," said the letter.
"It is equally irrelevant whether any or all interviews took place before the jury convicted him. These are moral loopholes aimed at excusing a reprehensible program stemming from Michael Jackson's tragic death."
"We demand that you exercise proper judgment and refrain from airing this program," it added.
NBC's "Today" show planned to broadcast interviews with Dr. Conrad Murray in which he defends his use of the surgical anesthetic propofol to put Jackson to sleep. Although multiple experts testified at his trial that propofol should not have been administered in Jackson's home, the doctor disagreed.
"I think propofol is not recommended to be given in the home setting," Murray said, "but it is not contraindicated."
He also said Jackson had been using the substance long before the pop star met Murray.
The interview with the Houston cardiologist, who was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter Monday, is set to air Thursday and Friday. NBC released excerpts of the interview Wednesday.
Under questioning by the "Today" show's Savannah Guthrie, Murray said it was not necessary for him to monitor Jackson because he had given him only a small dose of propofol, and he said that was the reason he didn't mention it to paramedics when they arrived at Jackson's mansion.
"That's a very sad reason," he said, "because it was inconsequential — 25 milligrams and the effect's gone. Means nothing."
Guthrie asked, "Well, you told them about the other drugs, but you didn't tell them about propofol?"
"Because it had no effect," Murray said. "It was not an issue."
The coroner would subsequently find that Jackson, 50, died of "acute propofol intoxication" after a huge dose of the drug complicated by other sedatives.
Murray's defense tried to show that Jackson gave himself an extra dose of propofol while Murray was out of the room, but prosecution experts said there was no evidence of that and it was a crazy theory.
Asked by Guthrie if he became distracted by phone calls, emailing and text messages, Murray said, "No I was not."
"When I looked at a man who was all night deprived of sleep, who was desperate for sleep and finally is getting some sleep, am I gonna sit over him, sit around him, tug on his feet, do anything unusual to wake him up? No," Murray said.
"You walked out of the room to talk on the phone?" Guthrie asked.
"Absolutely, I wanted him to rest."
He insisted Jackson was not on an infusion that would stop his breathing and, "I was not supposed to be monitoring him at that time because there was no need for monitoring."
Other doctors testified at Murray's trial that leaving a patient alone after giving him an anesthetic was an egregious deviation from the standard of care expected of a physician.
In one exchange, Murray suggested that had he known that Jackson had a problem with addiction to medications he might have acted differently. Experts testified that he should have researched Jackson's medical history before he undertook his treatment for insomnia.
On the day Jackson died, June 25, 2009, Murray said he believed he had weaned the singer off of propofol, the drug Jackson called his "milk."
But when Jackson could not sleep, Murray told "Today," he gave the entertainer a very small dose of propofol.
In retrospect, he said he probably should have walked away when Jackson asked for propofol. But he said he would have been abandoning a friend.
MSNBC did not immediately respond to a request for reaction to the Jackson estate letter. In Britain, Channel Four said in a tweet that the show is to be broadcast in the next week, at a date and time to be confirmed.
Murray, 58, was hired by Jackson at a promised salary of $150,000 a month to accompany the singer on his "This Is It" concert tour to London.
A jury that heard six weeks of testimony convicted Murray of involuntary manslaughter. He is now being held in Los Angeles County Jail awaiting sentencing Nov. 29 and could face up to four years in prison.
Defense attorney Ed Chernoff said in an interview from his Houston office aired on KCAL-TV Wednesday that he wasn't surprised by the verdict. "I can't say I was surprised," Chernoff said. "Look, it was a tough case."
Chernoff said earlier this week that the verdict was disappointing and would be appealed.
In a separate interview broadcast Wednesday, one of the jurors said there were contentious moments, including yelling and cajoling, during the two days of deliberations.
Debbie Franklin, 48, told ABC-TV's "Good Morning America" in the first juror interview so far that most of the jurors had decided on guilt Friday, the first day of deliberations.
But, she said "not everyone was convinced that Dr. Murray was solely responsible for Michael Jackson's death."
"Toward the end of the day, we finally took a vote," Franklin said. "It was not unanimous and we talked a little more about it."
The panel decided to think it over during a weekend break.
"It was stressful," said the mother of two, who is a paralegal. She said there was "yelling and we had to keep saying, 'Nobody talk while this person is talking. Raise your hand if you have something to say."
The majority managed on Monday to convince all jurors that Murray was negligent and his mistakes led to Jackson death, Franklin said.
"He had addictions. He asked other doctors to do it (give him the operating room anesthetic propofol). They said no. He was looking for somebody to say yes. And Conrad Murray said yes," she said.