‘Dateline’ Jackson Special Centers on Rabbi Friendship

By Andrew Gauthier 


NBC’s “Dateline” will air a one-hour special Friday night, which will focus on taped interviews of Michael Jackson recorded almost ten years ago. He discusses among other things his use of mannequins as personal companions and his fear of growing older. Much of the tapes concern Jackson’s love for children, and include his dream of establishing “Children’s Day.” “It’s criminal not to acknowledge the children, our greatest asset,” he says.

The man behind the tapes is Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, an American Modern Orthodox rabbi and media personality, who recorded the interviews during his friendship with Jackson between 1999 and 2001. The interviews form the basis of his latest book, The Michael Jackson Tapes: A Tragic Icon Reveals His Soul in Private Conversation. Boteach has published 17 books before this one, was the host of a series on TLC, and is often featured on the ‘Oprah and Friends’ XM radio network.


In a recent editorial for the Jerusalem Post, Boteach offered insight into why he moved forward with the ‘Dateline’ special, which will be hosted by Meredith Vieira. Boteach believes “the searing honesty of the conversations are sure to change the public’s perception of Michael forever.” Jackson sometimes celebrated the Sabbath with Boteach’s family, and they worked together on the project, “Turn Friday Night Into Family Night.”

“Our children do not need fame and fortune, but love and attention,” writes Boteach. “We can make a weekly children’s holiday a reality in the lives of our kids, today. The Jewish Sabbath leads the way.”

Boteach is also scheduled to appear on the “Today” show on Friday Sept. 25th, and Tuesday, Sept. 29th.