Tensions High as New Michael Jackson Film Debuts at Sundance

Leaving Neverland explores abuse allegations
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 25, 2019 2:25 AM CST
Security Stepped Up for Debut of Michael Jackson Film
In this May 25, 2005 photo, Michael Jackson arrives at the Santa Barbara County Courthouse for his child molestation trial in Santa Maria, Calif.   (Aaron Lambert/Santa Maria Times via AP, Pool)

Michael Jackson has been dead for almost a decade, but he apparently still has fans fanatical enough to worry police. Authorities in Park City, Utah, say they have increased staffing levels because they are worried about protests at the Sundance Film Festival premiere of Leaving Neverland, NBC reports. The controversial four-hour documentary tells the stories of Wade Robson and James Safechuck, two men who say they were sexually abused by Jackson as children. Jackson relatives have slammed the film as an "outrageous and pathetic attempt to exploit and cash in," and Jackson estate representatives have called it a rehash of "dated and discredited" allegations.

Sources tell Deadline that director Dan Reed has received death threats. "Tensions are higher for this movie than anything I’ve ever seen at Sundance before," a law enforcement source says. "No one is going to be prevented from exercising their constitutional rights, but we are not going to allow this to get out of hand, in any way." He says theater security checks will be stepped up when the movie premieres Friday. The Sundance festival wrote to corporate sponsors last week, saying it planned to proceed with the showing despite protests on social media. "We don’t currently plan to comment publicly or engage in the discourse ... and would recommend that you do the same," the festival said. (Sam Smith faced a backlash after dissing the King of Pop last year.)

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