Scrambling to soften the impact of HBO's Leaving Neverland, which alleges that Michael Jackson sexually abused two children, the late singer's estate has been informing the media of its many concerns about the credibility of the film and its stars, accusers James Safechuck and Wade Robson.
The estate recently provided Billboard with a 24-page working PowerPoint document, titled "Leaving Neverland and the Truth," that questions the accusers' memories and the filmmakers' motives in detail. The estate also attached recent news clips in which the singer's defense attorney, Thomas Mesereau Jr. called the charges "hogwash."
The document, not intended for publication, details what the estate says are dozens of examples in the documentary of bias, inconsistency and footage taken out of context. In the film, for example, Robson says Jackson invited him to sleep in his bed, but "in his deposition," the material states, "he makes clear that he and his sister were the ones who initiated the idea, and that Michael insisted they ask their parents." The film also portrays Jackson wishing Robson a happy birthday in a video "suggesting a creepy, predatory manner," when he recorded numerous similar greetings around the same time, the estate notes. Other concerns: the director "audibly coached" Robson at one point in an interview; the film neglects to mention Robson's attempts to find work with Cirque du Soleil's tribute shows after Jackson's death; and Jackson's defense attorney Mark Geragos appears to be threatening an accuser in a 2005 clip shown in the movie — but the estate says the clip was pulled from a press conference from unrelated litigation involving a charter-jet company.
"The quotes are taken out of context and no effort was made to clarify," notes the estate, which sued HBO before the film's wide debut for violating a 1992 nondisparagement clause. (The network didn't comment.)
But an estate representative says few media outlets have expressed interest in its grievances with the film.
"Much of this information is available online, and we have sent various pieces to the media, but no one has really been interested in reporting on it [or] digging further than the documentary," the estate rep told Billboard.
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Mesereau, in an interview with Billboard, said the Leaving Neverland accusations were reminiscent of Jackson's 2004-05 child-molestation trial, when "the entire world was condemning him and no one thought we could get a fair trial." A jury found Jackson not guilty of all charges. (Ron Zonen, the retired prosecutor who helped bring Jackson to trial in 2004, says the defense attorney is "preserving his own legacy.")
In an interview, estate attorneys were equally keen to point out inconsistencies. The night before Robson testified for the defense during the 2005 trial, he said in Leaving Neverland, Jackson looked upset at a dinner. But Jackson's nephew Taj and others who were present said the dinner took place after the testimony.
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"That whole story is made-up fiction," says Jonathan Steinsapir, one of the estate's attorneys. Adds his partner, Howard Weitzman: "It's hard to tell what the impact [of the documentary] will be. What is clear is people are drawing conclusions without knowing all the facts. They're depending on a documentary that we know is not completely accurate."
The film is framed around interviews with two men, Wade Robson and James Safechuck, who claim that Jackson repeatedly sexually assaulted them throughout their childhoods.
Vince Finaldi, attorney for Robson and Safechuck, explains that misremembering small details is normal for child victims of abuse: "They can try and nitpick little things — 'Was he sitting on the left or the right side of the car?' If you understand the mechanics of sexual abuse, kids are not remembering insignificant details, but they have a vivid memory of what happened to them."
Gene Maddaus Senior Media Writer @GeneMaddaus FOLLOW Gene's Most Recent Stories Hollywood Fixer Anthony Pellicano Released From Federal Prison ‘Leaving Neverland’ Lawsuit Proves to Be a Judicial Hot Potato Florida Man Pleads Guilty in CNN Pipe Bomb Case View All Facebook Twitter Reddit Email Show more sharing options LinkedIn WhatsApp Print Pin It Tumblr CREDIT: Courtesy of HBO The Michael Jackson estate sued HBO last month for airing the documentary “Leaving Neverland,” which accuses the late King of Pop of serial child sexual abuse.
The documentary “Leaving Neverland” aired on HBO on March 3 and 4. In the weeks that have followed, family, fans, and the music industry have all had to respond to the devastating sexual abuse allegations made by Wade Robson and James Safechuck against Michael Jackson, arguably the biggest popstar of all time.
Since then, radio stations from around the globe have removed his music from airwaves, an episode of “The Simpsons” starring the singer was pulled from circulation, and his music sales have started dropping.
“When we put together exhibitions, we look at the objects and their association with high-profile people. Obviously, we want to put stories in front of our visitors [showing] people of high character,” said Chris Carron, the museums director of collections.
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The Lakers have moved on. Los Angeles Lakers ESPN journalist Dave McMenamin noted on Twitter that the Lakers had replaced “Beat It” with other music during games.
It has been a highly-charged and divisive past few weeks. The HBO documentary caused a sensation with the most graphic and detailed accounts yet of alleged abuse committed by the superstar against two young boy. Now grown men, Safechuck and Robson say they are only motivated by a desire for truth and justice. The films director Dan Reed says they “have no financial interest in the documentary whatsoever.” Yet both are still pursuing “hundreds of millions of dollars in damages” according to the estates lawyers.
According to him, traditionally a camera pans out to the crowd encouraging fans to bust out their own air guitar moves, like player Lance Stephenson, while “Beat It” plays. It was changed to Chuck Berry and Nirvana songs.
Vuittons mens artistic director provided a statement to Womens Wear Daily confirming that Vuitton will not be producing anything “that directly features Michael Jackson elements” and saying that he is “aware that in light of this documentary the show has caused emotional reactions. I strictly condemn any form of child abuse, violence or infringement against any human rights.”
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Vuittons CEO Michael Burke added that, “We find the allegations in the documentary deeply troubling and disturbing.”
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The Transport for London, a local government body, announced that the ads are to be taken down and “have been rejected due to the public sensitivity and concern around their content.”
Jackson in “Stark Raving Dad.” 20th Television Jackson appeared in the season three premiere of “The Simpsons,” entitled “Stark Raving Dad.” He played a patient at a mental institution who believed he was the real Michael Jackson.
After the documentary, the episode was pulled from re-runs. An executive producer for the show, James L. Brooks, confirmed to The Wall Street Journal that, “It feels clearly the only choice to make,” and that steps had been taken to remove the episode from future DVDs, as well.
After details of Michael Jacksons alleged sexual abuse against children were revealed in the documentary, the 2,700-acre property in California had its price slashed from $100 million in 2015 to $31 million as of this week, yet its been noted that theres still not any prospective buyers.
Michael Jackson performing during the halftime show at the Super Bowl in 1993. AP Photo/Rusty Kennedy, file Dozens of radio stations in Canada and New Zealand have pledged to take Jacksons music off the air.
New Zealands public radio station, RNZ, confirmed that Jacksons music was not in their rotation, followed by competitor MediaWorks, whicht owns nine different commercial stations.
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Three major Montreal stations belonging to Cogeco, which owns multiple stations, have also pulled his songs from airplay.
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“We are attentive to listeners comments, and last nights documentary created reactions,” the director of marketing and communications for Cogeco said in a written statement.