LOS ANGELES – A high-ranking AEG executive testified Tuesday that he had known for years that Michael Jackson was taking painkillers, but wasn’t aware he was abusing them until the pop singer abruptly canceled his Dangerous world tour in the early 1990s to enter rehab.

Paul Gongaware, the co-chief executive of AEG Live’s touring division Concerts West, was the manager of the Dangerous tour. He is a defendant along with AEG in a wrongful death suit filed by Jackson’s mother and three children that accuses the concert promotion company of negligently hiring and controlling Dr. Conrad Murray, who gave the singer a fatal dose of the surgical anesthetic propofol and is now serving jail time for involuntary manslaughter.

Leaning back casually in his chair as he answered questions from the Jackson family attorney, Gongaware said he knew a doctor was medicating Jackson during the Dangerous tour but he did not try to find out specifically why the tour was cut short.

“Didn’t have time,” Gongaware said. “I was just dealing with what was in front of me.”

Gongaware, expected to be on the stand for several days, began working at Concerts West about 1976, before it was a subsidiary of AEG Live. He worked on Elvis Presley’s final tour, which ended with the performer’s death.

“So you knew what to expect when Michael Jackson passed away, is that right, sir?” attorney Brian Panish asked.

“I kind of knew what was going to happen, yes,” Gongaware answered.

Singer Janet Jackson arrived before Tuesday’s court session, hugged her mother, Katherine, and then watched the proceedings.

Blades joins cast of boxer movie

PANAMA CITY, Panama – Panama’s most famous performer is joining the cast of a movie about its most famous boxer.

Filmmaker Jonathan Jakubowicz says singer Ruben Blades will take part in the film “Hands of Stone,” which is scheduled for release next year. The film focuses on the life of Roberto Duran.

The Harvard-educated Blades is one of the biggest stars in Latin music and also has served as Panama’s tourism minister. In the film, he will play boxing promoter Carlos Eleta.

The movie also starts Robert De Niro, Usher and Edgar Ramirez.

– From news service reports