Marlon Brando spoke voluntarily and candidly with prosecutors about Michael Jackson in 1994, back when the singer was being investigated on allegations of child molestation, a new podcast reveals in its final episode. In a sworn statement, the actor shared details of a dinner conversation he allegedly had with Jackson that touched on the singer’s relationship with his father as well as his sexuality.
The L.A. County District Attorney’s office had gotten wind of a “special relationship” between the singer and the acting icon, who had a son, Miko, working as Jackson’s driver, according to the podcast Telephone Stories: The Trials of Michael Jackson.
Jackson supposedly was teaching Brando to dance, and Brando was teaching Jackson about acting. So prosecutors Bill Hodgman and Lauren Weis called the actor in to talk rather than put him in front of a grand jury.
Brandon Ogborn, one of the podcast’s creator-producers, got a hold of a transcript of the Brando interview, dated March 14, 1994, and verified its validity with Weis, who investigated Jackson during her 23 years as a prosecutor with the L.A. County District Attorney and is now a judge.
“I was able to review it. It was quite something to view the document and hold it. It felt like it was a hot potato,” Ogborn said Wednesday in an exclusive interview with The Los Angeles Times. “It’s a much longer document than what we report on. … It’s quite meandering, pretty loosey-goosey — he (Brando) probably would be cancelled if he was around now.”
It’s a statement that’s important to the historic record, the podcaster said, and its contents will be revealed when the final Telephone Stories episode drops Sunday.
“Brando is different from everyone else who figures into the Jackson investigations,” Ogborn said. “He was a famous actor and rich beyond measure. Unlike other people who have ‘spoken out’ against Jackson, Brando didn’t want or need anything from the pop star, and he offers the DA insider information that never came to light.
“He’s also a weirdo, like Michael Jackson. So he’s to me a weirdo who understands another weirdo in a weird world.”
In the episode, which The Times heard in advance, Ogborn reads Brando’s words from the sworn transcript. Brando, who died in 2004, told prosecutors about confronting Jackson during a dinner visit to Neverland Ranch.
“We were talking about human emotions and where it all comes from. I could see from the way he behaved — he talked like that, and he speaks in a very peculiar way for a man who is as old as my oldest son, 35. And he didn’t want me to swear,” the actor said.
“I had asked him if he was a virgin and he sort of laughed and giggled, and he called me Brando,” the actor added. “He said, ‘Oh, Brando.’ I said, ‘Well, what do you do for sex?’ And he was acting fussy and embarrassed.”
Brando said he had asked Jackson if he masturbated, then told prosecutors that the singer “lives in a completely different world.”
The A Streetcar Named Desire star also talked with Jackson about what motivates people. Jackson “didn’t hold real emotions,” Brando said, and that affected his ability to act.
“He said he hated his father and started to cry. So I pulled back. I started to tiptoe. I realized that he was in trouble with his life because he was living in a never-never land, and he couldn’t (swear), and for a 35-year-old man not to do that, being around people in show business, seemed very odd,” Brando said.
“And I said, ‘Well, who are your friends?’ He said, ‘I don’t know anybody my own age. I don’t like anybody my own age.’ I said, ‘Why not?’ He said, ‘I don’t know, I don’t know.’ He was crying hard enough that … I tried to assuage him. I tried to help him all I could.”
Brando told prosecutors he originally thought Jackson was gay but now believed it was “pretty reasonable to conclude that he may have had something to do with kids.”
Jackson, who died in 2009 and would have been 61 today, never came out and said he was gay, nor did he acknowledge sexual relations with boys. He was twice investigated on charges of child molestation. He was not charged the first time, but in 2005, he went to trial and was acquitted on all counts.
This is the first time the Brando material has been made public, Ogborn said, as the interview was not used in the singer’s trial.
The improv comedian-turned-podcaster said his pursuit of this Jackson story began after he met attorney Bert Fields, who represented Jackson during the 1993-94 investigation. The lawyer had come to see TomKat, a play Ogborn wrote and performed in, about the divorce of Tom Cruise (whom Fields had also represented) and Katie Holmes.
“I thought he was coming to serve me a subpoena or something,” Ogborn said.
Turns out Fields loved the play, which included mention of the Jackson situation, and they met backstage. That led to an interview, which in turn prompted Ogborn to do other interviews, and an audio docuseries resulted.
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By the time the 13-part podcast series was done, Ogborn had talked to 23 people who were involved in the two investigations in some way, including attorney Thomas Mesereau, who represented Jackson in his 2005 trial.
Former Los Angeles Times writer Jim Newton, who covered the early-’90s Jackson investigation for the newspaper, edited the podcast series. The show’s other creator-producer, opera singer Omar Crook, banters with Ogborn in the podcast.
The final episode of Telephone Stories, produced by Ninth Planet Audio, drops Sunday on premium podcast platform Luminary. The first 12 episodes are already available.