Kenny Ortega and Oprah
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During rehearsal, Kenny says he worried about his friend's health, especially his weight. "He was like: 'I'm at my fighting weight. I'm at my dancing weight,'" he says. "We looked after him. We were family. And as families do, [we asked]: 'Are you hungry? Did you eat?' We had a refrigerator stocked full of healthy drinks and food. As a family, [we] did our best to look out for each other, especially Michael."

In fact, Kenny says Michael outlasted dancers half his age. "It was as if he was the music," he says.

Despite reports that Michael was addicted to drugs, Kenny says he never saw any sign of drug abuse. "I saw fatigue at times, and he did have sleepless nights," he says. "I'd say: 'Michael, we need to get you to sleep. You need to be healthy. You need to take care of yourself.' He was like, 'I'm working on the record,' and he was being a dad, and then he would have these ideas for the show. So it just kept him up."

Though it's been an emotional journey, Kenny says he's honored to be able to pay tribute to the real Michael. "He's so present in the film," he says. "You can forget that he's still not with us."

FROM: Oprah Fridays Live: Mike Tyson Returns, Plus Evander Holyfield
Published on October 16, 2009

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