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Michael Jackson Estate Issue Statement on 'Leaving Neverland' Doc – Variety



The Michael Jackson estate has released a statement on the film "Leaving Neverland," which premiered at Sundance on Friday morning (Jan. 25). The documentary was screened at Park City, Utah's Egyptian Theater. The story of the film is about two hours after the film debuted, with what it calls "the kind of tabloid character assassination Michael Jackson endured in life, and now in death."

Dan Reed's film follows two accusers, Wade Robson and James Safechuck, as they describe the intense and graphic acts they say Jackson committed against them, as well as those they say the pop icon coached them to commit on him. Robson met Jackson through a dance competition at age 5, and claims the sexual abuse began when he was seven years old. Safechuck was cast in a Pepsi commercial starring Jackson around age 8, and the alleged abuse began after months of close friendship

Jackson consistently and wholly denied any wrongdoing when alive, saying he would never hurt a child. As an adult, Robson was one of Jackson's staunchest defenders, along with the likes of Macauley Culkin and Corey Feldman. Jackson died in June 2009.

"Leaving Neverland" is not a documentary, it is the kind of tabloid character assassination Michael Jackson endured in life, and now in death. The movie takes uncorroborated allegations that allegedly happened 20 years ago and treats them as fact. These claims were the basis of the lawsuits filed by these two admitted liars who were ultimately dismissed by a judge. The two accusers testified under the oath that these events never occurred. (19459016)

Tellingly, the director admitted at the Sundance Film Festival, that he was a member of the Sundance Film Festival he limited his interviews to these accusers and their families. In doing so, he deliberately avoided interviewing many people over the years who spent considerable time with Michael Jackson and have unambiguously stated that he treated children with respect and did nothing hurtful to them. By choosing not to include any of these independent voices who could challenge the narrative that he was determined to sell, the director neglected fact checking so he could craft a narrative so blatantly one-sided that viewers never get anything close to a balanced portrait.

For 20 years, Wade Robson was denied in court and in numerous interviews, including after Michael passed, that he was a victim and said he was grateful for everything Michael had done for him. His family benefited from Michael's kindness, generosity and career support until Michael's death. (19459016)

We are extremely sympathetic to any legitimate victim of the " child abuse. This movie, however, does these victims and disservice. Because, despite all the disingenuous denials that made this happen, it has always been about money – dating back to 2013 when both Wade Robson and James Safechuck, who share the same law firm, launched their unsuccessful claims against Michael's Estate. Now that Michael is no longer here to defend himself, Robson, Safechuck and their lawyers continue their efforts to achieve notoriety and a payday by scolding him with the same allegations and a jury found him innocent of when he was alive

– The Estate of Michael Jackson


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