OTR Interviews

Jackson's Long-Time Friend David Gest Speaks Out

This is a partial transcript from On the Record with Greta Van Susteren, November 19, 2003.

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GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, HOST: Joining us on the phone from Hawaii, in an exclusive interview, is David Gest, an award-winning producer and long-time friend of Michael Jackson. Welcome, David.

DAVID GEST, ENTERTAINMENT PRODUCER AND CHILDHOOD FRIEND OF MICHAEL JACKSON: Hi, Greta. How are you?

VAN SUSTEREN: Good. David, give us some background. How do you know Michael Jackson?

GEST: I met Michael and his family when we were going to school, and I think I was around 12 years old. And the brothers and I used to play basketball together. I knew his sisters, Latoya and Janet, very well, and really grew up with his brothers. They'd come to my house all the time. My mother would feed them, and I'd go to their house and their mother would cook for us.

VAN SUSTEREN: And you've met -- you stayed in very close friendship since 12 with him, right?

GEST: Yes.

VAN SUSTEREN: And were you the executive producer of the Jackson 30th anniversary special last year?

GEST: No, I was the producer. I came up with the idea of bringing -- reuniting the Jackson 5. I had heard on the radio one morning "The Love You Save," which was one of my favorite songs as a kid, and I just thought, You know, this is ridiculous. This group needs to get back together for a night or two and let the world see the magic they create. And I called up Michael and said, You're doing it, and called up all of the other brothers and said, You're doing it. And they thought I was crazy, saying, It's just going to happen like that? But it did.

VAN SUSTEREN: So David, what do you make of this? I mean, the whole world is looking tonight. Michael's a wanted man.

GEST: I have known Michael almost all my life, and I find it so sad to think that people would believe that he could do something like this. You know, what people do not understand, Greta, is that Michael was raised around people, at 12 years old and 14 years old, who were adults. And the first thing they'd say is, You know, Michael, I'd like to borrow $500,000 from you. You know, Michael, loan me $250,000. I've got a great business deal for you. And everybody wanted something from him.

I know people find it odd because he hangs around with younger people. And probably, he should have married much younger and had his own children, and he would never have had these problems. But he's always liked to be around kids because they don't ask anything of him. They're innocent. And he can take them into the movie theater and say, Do you want to see a film? They can go around Neverland and play on the rides. His kids are self-taught, so he's got friends for his kids to play with.

And I find it impossible to picture Michael doing anything like this. And it saddens me because it seems that we build people up just to tear them down. And for the police to go into his house -- I don't think anybody has said what they're searching for and I don't believe anybody's said what they found. Very odd that you go into somebody's house, they're not there, you search for something, you can't say what you found.

And here's a guy that has done so much good for people. Do you know how many people who have lost their legs or their arms, amputees, where he has gone out and purchased the artificial limbs and paid for the training for them to get their lives back together, how many families and churches in the South, when they were burned, that he helped by giving huge financial checks to rebuild these churches? I know...

VAN SUSTEREN: And he's done, you know, an enormous amount of that. David, I'm sorry to cut you off. You know, I very much appreciate, you know, you calling in. Thank you very much for those words. Thank you, David.

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