The Sundance Film Festival aired Dan Reed’s Michael Jackson-inspired documentary, and the estate (and the Jacksons) aren’t thrilled.
“Leaving Neverland” caught up with the lives of two men, who claimed Michael sexually abused them. Wade Robson tells his story of allegedly being molested by the icon from seven to 14-years-old. While James Safechuck, the famed child from Jackson’s Pepsi commercial, detailed his experience that began at ten.
The debut may have made Reed proud, but not those closest to the late King of Pop. They released a statement fighting against the “public lynching” of the man who was legally relieved of any guilt. They called the documentary, “The kind of tabloid character assassination Michael Jackson endured in life, and now in death,” adding that, “The film takes uncorroborated allegations that supposedly happened 20 years ago and treats them as fact.”
Director Reed, however, explained to Hollywood Reporter that he feels no way about the family and estate’s reaction because their interests only lie in their finances.
“They have a very precious asset to protect,” he said. “Every time a song plays, a cash register goes ‘ka-ching.’ It doesn’t surprise me that they’ve come out fighting in defense of their asset.”
He went on to proudly say he chooses to create projects that entertain subjects people don’t like to talk about. Just because they didn’t like the topic, doesn’t make it less of a documentary.
“Anyone with any knowledge of that form would recognize a documentary. A four-hour piece, is that a tabloid?” he asked. “I didn’t characterize Jackson at all in the film — I think if you watch it you’ll have noticed that it’s a story about these two families and Jackson is an element of that story. But I don’t seek to characterize him at all. I don’t comment on Jackson. It’s not a film about Michael. … The film itself is an account of sexual abuse, how sexual abuse happens and then how the consequences play out later in life.”
What do you guys think? Should the film be scrapped or are Safechuck and Robson’s stories worth hearing?