Thursday, May 30, 2024

Four Hour Michael Jackson Documentary “Leaving Neverland” Screens at Sundance, Will Air on HBO This Spring


The controversial documentary about Michael Jackson called “Leaving Neverland” is screening this morning at Sundance. It’s four hours long and will air on HBO this spring.

Ordinarily I’m a huge fan of HBO docs. But this film, by Dan Reed, is cause for concern. It centers on disproved stories from two men who were Neverland boys in the 90s– Wade Robson and Jimmy Safechuck.

The former actually testified for Michael at his 2005 child molestation trial. So did Robson’s sister and mother. They said nothing untoward happened to Robson. But when Michael died, and Robson’s career wasn’t working out, he suddenly claimed molestation and filed a lawsuit against the estate. His claims were dismissed.

Jimmy Safechuck’s name turned up in a hideous “book” that was published abroad, full of gross allegations that weren’t true. Michael was generous to the Safechucks when Jimmy was a kid. They’ve returned the favor by coming after him now, when he can’t speak.

I reported on Michael Jackson for decades. He got more and more eccentric as time went on, dependent on drugs, careless, capricious. He was disloyal to everyone around him. But I don’t think he was a child molester. The 2005 trial with the Arvizo family, who turned out to be professional liars, showed that Michael was subject to blackmail easily. His “optics” and statements about little boys didn’t help. But one look at how well his kids have turned out indicates he was a good father, and maybe not as crazy as we thought.

So we wait for a report from Sundance around 3:30pm Eastern.

Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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