The family of the late Michael Jackson calls the new documentary, ‘Leaving Neverland,’ a “one sided hit job” and blasted it as “tabloid character assassination.”
The four-hour doc, which is centered on claims from James Safechuck and Wade Robson, premiered at the Sundance Film Festival on Friday and will be shown on HBO later this year.
The men allege that the King of Pop, who died in 2009, sexually abused and manipulated them when they were children.
Following the premiere, Michael’s nephew Taj Jackson, 45, vehemently denounced the claims made in the documentary.
“My family and I have known Wade and his family since he came to America. Don’t tell me a 4 hour one sided hit job that you watched is more reputable than people who actually knew him and saw his interactions,” he wrote on Twitter. “This is all about money and the desperate need to be relevant again.”
Michael Estate also blasted the film, while calling the two men “liars.”
“Leaving Neverland isn’t a documentary, it is the kind of tabloid character assassination Michael Jackson endured in life, and now in death,” the statement read. “The film takes uncorroborated allegations that supposedly happened 20 years ago and treats them as fact. These claims were the basis of lawsuits filed by these two admitted liars which were ultimately dismissed by a judge.”
The lengthy statement goes on to allege both men benefitted financially from Michael, and said Safechuck and Robson – and their lawyers – are out to make more money from the late musician.
“We are extremely sympathetic to any legitimate victim of child abuse. This film, however, does those victims a disservice. Because despite all the disingenuous denials made that this is not about money, it has always been about money,” the estate’s statement added.
During the Sundance premiere, police were hired to guard the theater in case of any protests. TMZ reports that Robson, 36, and Safechuck, 40, were emotional as they received a standing ovation after the film had ended.
In contrary to the two men’s views of Michael, Macaulay Culkin recently gave another side of the man he calls “awesome.”
During an appearance on Michael Rosenbaum‘s Inside of You podcast, Culkin spoke about his friendship with Michael, which started when he was 10 and Michael was 32.
“He reached out to me because a lot of things were happening big and fast with me. And I think…yes, I think he identified with that. I mean, at the end of the day, it’s almost easy to try say it was ‘weird’ or whatever, but it wasn’t, because it made sense. Like, we were legitimate…At the end of the day, we were friends—in the most simple [way]. It’s one of my friendships that people question, only because of the fact that he was the most famous person in the world,” Macaulay said about his friendship with the King of Pop, despite their 22 year age difference.
He continued, “For me, it’s so normal and mundane. I know it’s a big deal to everybody else, but it was a normal friendship.”
“I really didn’t actually give a s–t about famous people. I was thoroughly unimpressed by them. So, when I first met him, I was just like, ‘OK, cool. You’re just that guy. Oh, that guy who sings songs? Cool. I sing songs in school. Great,’” Macaulay added. “So the fact that [I was] somebody who was kind of just treating him like a normal person…Yeah. It was that simple.”
“He was f–king awesome. He was hilarious. He was sweet. People don’t know how funny he f–king was!” he added.
Michael, 50, was found dead on June 25, 2009, at his home in Los Angeles.