TODAY | June 25, 2010
LAUER: ...this morning for us. Jeff , thank you very much . Mark Lester is the godfather of Michael Jackson 's children and made headlines last year when he claimed he could possibly be the biological father of Paris Jackson . Mr. Lester , good morning to you.
Mr. MARK LESTER (Longtime Friend of Michael Jackson): Hi, Matt. How are you?
LAUER: I'm well, thank you. You know, in the -- in the days and weeks following Michael Jackson 's untimely death last year, a lot of friends and pseudo friends came out of the woodwork . As it turned out, a lot of those people really didn't have a relationship with Michael Jackson . But by all accounts, you and Michael did stay close over the years. Your children and his children were friends. How would you describe your relationship?
Mr. LESTER: We were -- yeah, I mean, we were just like two families, and I imagine almost like my kids and Michael 's children were like would be anything like -- although they weren't related, like cousins I guess. I mean, we always -- when Michael ever came to the UK we would always get together. We've -- I've been to Neverland many, many times and -- with my children and, you know, we spent some rare moments with Michael . We've had Christmas with Michael , it's -- and Michael 's kids. We've -- just two families that have become very close over the years.
LAUER: And yet it's my understanding that since his death you really have had very little contact with his children , and your children have had basically no contact with his children . Have you reached out to try to establish that?
Mr. LESTER: Well, I have tried. We're always here, so you know if Paris , Blanket , Prince are hearing or listening, you know, my -- I'm here, my children are here and, you know, we're here 24/7 so there's not a problem.
LAUER: These headlines you made last year after his death when you said that you had made a sperm donation to Michael and that it was possible -- you didn't claim anything further than that -- but possible that you might be Paris ' biological father, do you think that had a chilling effect on your relationship with the rest of the Jackson family ?
Mr. LESTER: Well, it possibly wouldn't have made me number one in the popular list, but unfortunately these things came out and, you know, it doesn't detract from the fact that Paris -- Michael was Paris ' dad and always will be and she will always will be Michael 's daughter. You know, she's a wonderful kid. All the kids are wonderful. But, yes, maybe in the popularity stakes I wouldn't have been that high up on the list.
LAUER: Even though you've had no direct contact with the children , do you have any means of getting information as to how they're doing?
Mr. LESTER: Yeah, I do. I get -- I have people who are within the family, external members, and I get snippets of information. So, you know, I understand they're doing very well and they're looking fine and they're healthy. Just be nice if, you know, we could pick up a phone and just say hi.
LAUER: Yeah. In Jeff Rossen 's piece, we saw that they are out and about a little more than they were, being seen in the public more than they were when Michael was alive. Is that a good thing to you?
Mr. LESTER: Definitely. You know, Michael absolutely cherished those children and obviously for their own safety he had to keep them very contained, I guess. Now that they're getting out and about, it's the best thing for them. They need to get out and mix with kids their own age. And they -- the healthiest thing possible just to allow them their freedom.
LAUER: In the year since their death, all kinds of so-called experts have tried to put his career and his life into perspective, Mark . Is there anything you feel is missing or has been missing from those discussions?
Mr. LESTER: Well, most of these people have never ever met Michael and they're just working on assumption. It -- just anybody I know that has spent five minutes with Michael Jackson just comes away saying, you know, there was -- there was an aura about Michael , a peaceful, a loving, a giving, just this feeling of tranquility that Michael gave out, and you could not get that unless you actually met the man. And everybody I know that's met Michael has come away just completely blown away by this what was a beautiful person.
LAUER: Mark Lester . Mark , good to see you. Thanks for your time this morning.
Mr. LESTER: Thanks, Matt.
LAUER: For more on Michael Jackson 's death one year later and the entire interview with Katherine Jackson , catch a special "Dateline." " Michael Jackson , a Mother's Story." That's tonight at 9, 8 Central Time right here on NBC .