By Ken Tucker
July 02, 2009 at 05:24 PM EDT

Matt Lauer turned an awkward media situation into fascinating television this morning. While the rest of various news outlets circled the Neverland Ranch due to the rumors of a Michael Jackson memorial that will apparently now not take place there, The Today Show went into the largely-empty mansion. The tour included a stroll through Jackson’s huge kitchen — “the size of Meredith [Viera]’s kitchen,” noted Lauer slyly — on into Jackson’s bedroom. There, deep within a huge closet, Lauer revealed a small “secret room” that had triple locks.

Lauer also conducted an interview with Jermaine Jackson. “I wish it was me,” said Jermaine, referring to Michael’s death and sobbing. He said that Jackson’s three children, ages 12, 11, and 7, were taken to see their father’s body shortly after he died. Jermaine also addressed the question of the children’s custody by the Jacksons’ mother, Katherine. Lauer asked whether Katherine, at age 79, was up to such a task, Jermaine said she was indeed “capable… she loves the laughter and the kids.” Jermaine also said that there was some talk with Michael that after he had finished his solo tour, there was the possibility of a Jackson 5 reunion. Lauer said the quarters for the children in the house were “understated… not over-the-top at all.” There was also a classroom on the grounds, since the children were home-schooled. Jermaine also told Lauer that he hopes Michael’s “final resting place” will be the Neverland Ranch. Working on a story that can frequently become melodramatic, Lauer conducted a calm, classy series of reports throughout this morning’s Today Show.