As a distinguished producer, Mr. Gest won the “NAACP Image Award” for “Best Entertainment Special 2001” for “Michael Jackson: 30th Anniversary Celebration”, The Solo Years, an all-star salute to the ‘King of Pop,’ which aired on the CBS Television Network in November 2001. The record-breaking special is considered by many critics to be television at its best. It also is the number one musical special of all-time in seven other countries including Australia. Gest and Jackson formed their own company for the special and broke all box office records, attaining the highest two concert grosses in world history (for a non-charitable event) for two nights at New York’s Madison Square Garden with an amazing 7 million pound (14 million dollar) box office. Among the many stars who performed on the two shows on Friday, 7 September 2001 and Monday, 10 September 2001 were (alphabetically): Marc Anthony; Ray Charles; Deborah Cox; Missy “Misdemeanor” Elliot; Gloria Estefan; Gloria Gaynor; Billy Gilman; Whitney Houston; James Ingram; Quincy Jones & The Legends of Jazz, including Al Jarreau, Herbie Mann, Les McCann, David “Fathead” Newman, Jimmy Smith, Clark Terry & Cassandra Wilson; Gladys Knight; Lil’Romeo; Ricky Martin; Liza Minnelli; Monica; Mya; 98 Degrees, ‘N Sync; Jill Scott; Shaggy, featuring Ricardo “RikRok” Ducent & Rayvon; Britney Spears; Tamia; Usher; Luther Vandross; Dionne Warwick and many more.
Mr. Gest also produced the “Miracle On 34th Street Concerts” at Madison Square Garden for three consecutive years (2000, 2001 & 2002). Among the many artists who performed were: Mary J. Blige; Blu Cantrell; Mariah Carey; Deborah Cox; Craig David; Enrique Iglesias; Alicia Keys; Chaka Khan; Christina Milian; Liza Minnelli; Mya; Shaggy, featuring Ricardo “Rikrok” Ducent and Rayvon; Shakira; The Sugarhill Gang; Whitney Houston; Marc Anthony; Ricky Martin; Christina Aguilera; Son by Four; Toni Braxton; 98 Degrees; Tamia; Destiny’s Child, Gloria Gaynor; Jon Secada; Debelah Morgan; Deniece Williams; Brian McKnight; Melanie C of the Spice Girls and a special appearance by Michael Jackson.
The American Cinema Awards Foundation (ACAF) was started in 1983 by Michael Jackson, Tito and Dee Dee Jackson, actor Joel McCrea and his wife Frances Dee and David Gest. Beneficiaries of the ACAF (a non-profit organization) included the Motion Picture And Television Fund in Woodland Hills, California, The Actors’ Fund Of America in Englewood, New Jersey, scholarships in the fields of theatre arts, dance and music at universities and colleges throughout the United States and free film screenings for senior citizens and the disabled at theatres and hospitals throughout America. The Foundation also raised money for charities pertaining to children’s education in the arts. Honourees of this esteemed film and music Award for which Gest has produced evenings included: Elizabeth Taylor, Bette Davis, Clint Eastwood, Gregory Peck, Frank Sinatra, James Stewart, Michael Jackson, Whoopi Goldberg, Tom Cruise, Sophia Loren, Clive Davis, Jane Wyman, Robert Mitchum, Deborah Kerr, Roddy McDowall, Kirk Douglas, Whitney Houston, Janet Jackson, Julio Iglesias, Gene Kelly, Shirley Temple, Joseph Cotten, Dorothy McGuire and Joel McCrea, just to name a few.
The “International Achievement In Arts Awards” began as an evening under the patronage of Princess Diana for the Great Ormond Street Children’s Hospital. The first IAAA produced by Mr. Gest was so successful that it was featured on the front page of every major London newspaper, which is quite an accomplishment for an entertainment event. The honourees of this prestigious award included: Bob Hope, Leslie Caron, Gregory Peck, Jennifer Jones, Whitney Houston, Celine Dion, Mariah Carey, David Foster, Carole Bayer Sager, Peter Asher, Roger Moore, Lauren Bacall, Gene Autry, Anthony Quinn, Sir Anthony Hopkins, Dame Diana Rigg, Sir John Mills and Ginger Rogers amongst others.
In 1993, Mr. Gest received a special “American Cinema Award” from the Board of Directors of the ACAF as well as an Award from the Board of Trustees of the Motion Picture And Television Fund presented by his good friends Gene Kelly, James Stewart, Milton Berle, Anthony Perkins and the reunion of Margaret O’Brien, Janet Leigh and June Allyson (the three Little Women who starred in the MGM classic) at a sold-out testimonial dinner in his honour in Beverly Hills, California. The evening attracted over 1,500 people and raised more than a quarter of a million dollars for “Harry’s Haven,” the Alzheimer’s unit named in honour of Kirk Douglas’ father, at The Motion Picture And Television Fund. Among those who surprised Mr. Gest with performances in his honour included: the original Four Tops, Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons, Petula Clark, Michael McDonald, John Barrowman and a host of others. Mr. Gest was lauded for helping to raise a total of nearly four million dollars for The Motion Picture and Television Fund.
Among Mr.Gest’s production credits are: The “Campione D’Italia Merit Of Achievement Awards” (transmitted throughout Europe and the Middle East on television) honouring Bette Davis, Gene Kelly, Joseph Cotten, Robert Mitchum, June Allyson, Ali MacGraw and Glenn Ford; two events for legendary actress Sophia Loren to benefit the Miami School of Medicine’s AIDS Research Programme; “An Evening Honouring Jane Wyman” for the Arthritis Foundation; a “Thalians Summer Musical Spectacular” for Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles; “The Field Of Dreams Awards” for the Michael Bolton Foundation and the Barry Bonds Foundation; the “Center For Families And Children Holiday Gala 2000 Honouring Legendary Ladies Of Film Musicals”, paying tribute to Jane Russell, Janet Leigh, Jane Powell, Rhonda Fleming, Ann Blyth, Anne Jeffreys, Petula Clark and Celeste Holm and two benefits for the Whitney Houston Foundation For Children.