Promoters of Michael Jackson's planned London comeback described in emails how they feared for the megastar's stability, saying he was out of shape and consumed with self-doubt.
The Los Angeles Times obtained some 250 pages of messages, most between executives at Anschutz Entertainment Group, which was financing the ill-fated This Is It concerts in 2009.
Some of the emails indicated that executives were concerned that Jackson's planned 50-show stand at AEG's 02 Arena would be an expensive bust.
In one exchange, AEG's Randy Phillips wrote to his boss saying Jackson was "an emotionally paralysed mess". Mr Phillips was writing from Jackson's London hotel suite hours before a press conference announcing the concert run.
"MJ is locked in his room drunk and despondent," Mr Phillips said in an email to AEG president Tim Leiweke. "I (am) trying to sober him up."
In the end, the emails show, Mr Phillips and Jackson's manager had to dress the pop star, the Times said. "He is scared to death," Mr Phillips wrote to Mr Leiweke.
Jackson arrived 90 minutes late for the press conference and made brief remarks that some of the 350 reporters described as odd and disjointed.
In an interview with the newspaper, AEG's lawyer Marvin Putnam suggested Mr Phillips had exaggerated in his emails and said Jackson's behaviour appeared to be a case of "nerves".
The Times said the messages would probably play a key role in two lawsuits set for trial next year. The shows' insurers are asking a judge to nullify a 17.5-million-dollar (£11 million) policy that they say AEG got with false claims about Jackson's health and readiness to perform. And Jackson's heirs filed a wrongful-death suit that accuses the entertainment giant of pressuring the singer to carry on with a comeback despite indications he was too weak. Jackson, 50, died in June 2009.