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.