Packer: My dad loved me



JAMES Packer cried as he described the last time he spoke to his 'legendary' father Kerry.

His raw and candid interview with Channel 7's Sunday Night's Mike Willisee had social media and television audiences captivated - and emotional.

It was the death-bed phone call that James Packer had waited all his life to hear - his media tycoon father Kerry telling him he loved him and was proud of him.

Until then, Mr Packer admits, he had lived in fear of the "terrifying" dad he described as "best in class for temper".

Knowing death was imminent, a secret he kept from his son, Kerry also told James he should lead the life he wanted to, not the one he thought his father wanted him to live.

"He said he loved me, he said he was proud of me," Mr Packer said. "Twenty-four hours later his doctor rang and said, 'Get on a plane, he's only got 24 hours to live'."

Breaking down as he recalled that moment, he added: "Dad knew and he didn't tell me."

The Twittersphere was abuzz with comments as the interview progressed. Sunday Telegraph TV editor @debbieschipp said: "James not the only one crying when he recalls his dad's words 'live your life your own way'. Raw and honest stuff".
@MolksTVTalk said: "The touching thing about #Packeron7 is the tears in discussing his father. As hard as KP may have been he was still loved by his son".
@LMStellaPR said: "Kudos the James packer for agreeing to this interview and being so open".
@lucyetlamachine said: "Wow. Well done #SN7 the #Packer interview was one of the best tv interviews in current affairs in such a long time".
@PestmanNeil said: "#Sn7 great interview good on you James for being so candid
@KristySlater said: "What an astounding interview with an emotional James Packer. He has such great passion for what he does".

The details of the phone call between father and son were revealed in an exclusive Channel 7 interview with the notoriously media-shy billionaire by Sunday Night's Mike Willesee.

Seven is understood to have spent eight months convincing Mr Packer to agree to the sit-down, which was recorded over six days.

Unaware at the time of just how sick his father was, Mr Packer said: "I always got a bit jumpy when dad called, 'cause I didn't know if it was going to be a good call or a bad call.

"And it was a beautiful call."

He said the conversation went for "about an hour". His father died of kidney failure on Boxing Day 2005, aged 68.

The call ended what Mr Packer admits was a rocky relationship.

"My dad was a larger-than-life character and I'm not going to say every minute or every hour we spent together was a highlight," he said.

"He had a good temper. He was best in class that I've come across in temper.

"When he wanted to be, he could be terrifying."

The interview gave an insight into Mr Packer's lifestyle, his early dating years and his ambitious bid to turn Sydney's Barangaroo into a money-spinning casino resort to rival those in Singapore and Macau.

Willesee, who also spent time on Mr Packer's private jet, asked about Scientology and his friendship with Tom Cruise. Mr Packer told how the Hollywood star reached out to him when he was at his lowest following the breakdown of his marriage to first wife Jodhi Meares in 2002, and the collapse of telecommunications company One.Tel.

"I was depressed and emotionally exhausted," he said. "My marriage had broken up. I felt isolated. I felt like a failure.

"When I was at my lowest, Tom Cruise reached out to me. He believed in me when other people didn't."

Mr Packer ventured into Scientology soon afterwards, although he appears to have distanced himself from the organisation in recent years.

The interview was a strategic move on Mr Packer's part. The former executive chairman of PBL is keen to expand his casino empire with a $2 billion, six-star Crown Sydney Hotel Resort at Barangaroo.

A close source said he was proud of what he had helped build in Perth and Melbourne, and wanted to show people the benefits of having a similar resort in Sydney.

Mr Packer, who fiercely guards his private life, described his wife Erica as "amazing" and one of the best things that has happened to him.

He jokes about how his fortune may have assisted his quest to find a girlfriend.

"I think it helped," he says, but adds:"I'm just going to choose to look at it as a positive and another piece of good fortune that's happened in my life."

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Packer: My dad loved me