“Michael always turned the other cheek, and we have always turned the other cheek when people have gone after members of our family – that is the Jackson way,” their statement to the Associated Press read. “But we can’t just stand by while this public lynching goes on … Michael is not here to defend himself, otherwise these allegations would not have been made.”
Director Dan Reed has now responded to the criticism that his project is a “tabloid character assassination,” noting that “Leaving Neverland” is “a four-hour documentary by an experienced documentarian with a long track record in investigation and telling complex stories and this is a complex story,” he told the Hollywood Reporter.
“I’d say it’s beyond doubt a documentary. Anyone with any knowledge of that form would recognize a documentary. A four-hour piece, is that a tabloid? 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.“
Reed also described the singer as a “very precious asset” so he understands the family’s position of wanting to protect Jackson’s image.
“They have a very precious asset to protect,” he added “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.”
Reed said both Robson and Safechuck “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 added.
“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’ll educate people as to how child sexual abuse happens.”
Ny MaGee is an entertainment reporter with over 15 years of experience working in the film industry in areas including production and post-production, marketing, distribution, and acquisitions. She has worked for legendary film producer Roger Corman, Quentin Tarantino's production team at Miramax, the late Larry Flynt, MTV/ VH1, Hallmark Channel, Paramount, Jim Henson Co., Parade Magazine, and various LA-based companies representing above-the-line talent.
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