Artist News Media Top Stories

Director defends Leaving Neverland documentary as Jackson family speaks out

By | Published on Tuesday 29 January 2019

Michael Jackson

The director of that new documentary putting the spotlight on abuse allegations against Michael Jackson has defended his film. This follows the late pop star’s estate dubbing it a “tabloid character assassination” centring on accusers whose claims have “always been about money”.

The remarks from director Dan Reed also follow a statement from the Jackson family, who – like the estate – have laid into the documentary, its maker and its subjects, as well as the media response to the project.

The family’s statement reads: “We are furious that the media who, without a shred of proof or single piece of physical evidence, chose to believe the word of two admitted liars over the word of hundreds of families and friends around the world who spent time with Michael, many at Neverland, and experienced his legendary kindness and global generosity”.

Like the estate, the family hone in on the fact that the two men who make allegations against Jackson in ‘Leaving Neverland’ – Wade Robson and James Safechuck – both defended the musician when he was still alive. The men now allege that Jackson abused them in the 1990s, but when the star faced criminal charges of child abuse in 2005 they testified in his defence.

The statement from the Jacksons goes on: “The creators of this film were not interested in the truth. They never interviewed a single solitary soul who knew Michael except the two perjurers and their families. That is not journalism, and it’s not fair ­ yet the media are perpetuating these stories”.

Both accusers went legal in relation to the alleged abuse they suffered after Jackson’s death. However, both cases were dismissed because the men had left it too long to bring civil proceedings to court. Robson says it was only through therapy in later life, after two breakdowns, that he came to accept Jackson had abused him as a child.

Reed has been defending his film in various interviews to promote the work. Speaking to USA Today, he said of the responses from the Jackson family and estate: “It’s pretty much what you’d expect them to say. They obviously haven’t seen it”.

Specifically speaking in defence of the subjects of his documentary, Reed added in a separate interview with The Hollywood Reporter: “Wade and James were not paid in any way, directly, indirectly. The family were not enumerated. There was nothing. No compensation in any form whatsoever. I think that’s an important thing to establish”.

He then said: “The #MeToo era began during the making of the film, and there’s been a sea change in how we regard the victims of sexual assault, and I’m hoping that this film will deepen that and widen it to boys and men, victims of child sexual abuse. Also, I’m hoping it will educate people as to how child sexual abuse happens”.

Returning to the estate’s criticism of his work and their characterisation of the project as “tabloid character assassination”, Reed muses: “They have a very precious asset to protect. Every time a song plays, a cash register goes ‘ka-ching’. It doesn’t surprise me that they’ve come out fighting in defence of their asset”.

For their part, the Jackson family concluded their statement by claiming “the truth is on our side”. They then added: “Go do your research about these opportunists. The facts don’t lie, people do. Michael Jackson was and always will be 100% innocent of these false allegations”.