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Sundance ’19: Leaving Neverland Unearths MJ Sexual Allegations

After spending a week prior to Sundance listening to the ramifications for the R. Kelly documentary hitting the air, the last thing I wanted to do was watch Leaving Neverland at the Sundance Film Festival.   Which is one of the reasons I struggled with going to screen this film or even writing this review.  Having said that we all know that Michael Jackson was a public figure who appeared to be bigger than life.  So, of course when he showed interest in a few middle class families and their children, who can’t believe the mega-superstar actually gives them the time of day or even knows their names it feels as though everyone is living out a real-life fantasy.

Leaving Neverland focuses on accusers Wade Robson, 36, and James Safechuck, 40, who allege that Jackson began sexually abusing them at ages 7 and 10, respectively. At the time, both boys were diehard fans with entertainment aspirations of their own: Robson, who went on to choreograph for Britney Spears and ‘N Sync as an adult, met Jackson after winning a dance contest during the singer’s 1987 Bad tour in Australia. Safechuck, a child actor, appeared with Jackson that same year in a Pepsi commercial and says he began to hang out regularly with the star in Los Angeles.

Here are my issues.  Robson and Safechuck each filed lawsuits against Jackson’s estate after his death in 2013 and 2014, respectively, although judges denied both. Both were adamant that Jackson was innocent when he went to trial and was acquitted of all charges.  Both had parents who enabled, allowed and basically pimped their kids out to allegedly spend time alone with Jackson behind closed, locked doors.  My mother would have never allowed such a thing.  She wouldn’t have cared if you were Jesus Christ himself!!!

The documentary, produced by HBO clocks in around 4 hours long.  After two hours, I’d had enough of hearing the same stories repeated ad nauseam.  I find that very interesting that the film got a standing ovation at Sundance because from where I was sitting droves of people left during the entire two hours I managed to hang in there.  Basically, I left because the film was repetitive in content for the most part.   There was one moment Wade Robson pulls out a jewelry box full of gold rings that were supposedly given to him by MJ for sexual favors.  After going into greater detail, he tearfully exclaims it’s hard for him to look at the jewelry.  Then, why are they still in your possession???????  That would be like me being attacked and keeping the same clothes I had been attacked in.  I just don’t get it!!!!

The one and only thing that gave me pause is that I found it ironic that these young men looked identical as children and adults.  I found it difficult to keep them straight on-screen without a lower third.  Why does that concern me you ask?   Because people have a “type” when it comes to choosing someone to be romantically or sexually linked with.  If what these young men and their families say is true then it makes me beyond sad.

My final issue is with desecrating someone in death, when you were the biggest cheerleader in life.  Leaving Neverland is painful to watch for a variety of reasons and there are some out there who for yet another ride around the tabloid merry-go-round will find this entertaining or interesting.  I would not be one of them.  Let me be clear.  If indeed the heinous acts described are true, it only goes to prove how our society will forego self-respect and dignity to get close to a celebrity and protect them at any cost.  If it’s not true, we are witnessing yet another character assassination of someone who is no longer here to fight for himself.  It’s sad and disappointing either way you look at it.  I remain conflicted and confused by it all.

Well, now you can judge for yourselves when Leaving Neverland airs on HBO in two-parts on March 3rd and 4th. Will you be confused, conflicted or convinced?  The choice is up to you.

I love, love love movies, watching them and discussing them...thus the birth of The Curvy Film Critic!!! Host/Producer/FilmCritic,Carla Renata is a member of such esteemed organizations as Critics Choice Association (Co-President Documentary Branch), African American Film Critics Association, Online Association of Female Film Critics and Alliance of Women Film Journalists. My op-eds or features have been seen in VARIETY,, Maltin on Movies, The Cherry Picks, IGN Movies, as well as being a frequent Guest Contributor to Fox 11-LA, Good Day LA, ET Live!, Turner Classic Movies, KCRW Press Play with Madeline Brand, The Cherry Picks, The Stream Team (Beond TV) ITV, Fox Soul's The Black Report, The ListTV and more. Catch my reviews on The Curvy Critic with Carla Renata - LIVE!!! Sundays 5pm PST via You Tube or Facebook Live. If you like what you read please shout me out and subscribe to The Curvy Critic on YouTube. You can chat with me across all social media platforms @TheCurvyCritic and as always, thanks for supporting a sista'


  • Seany Okane

    Hi Carla, I’m a fan of your writing and blogs. This submission has prompted me to respond. I hope you don’t mind.

    I have been following the modern-day lynching of Michael Jackson now for some time and this is just another attempt to kick a dead black man down by the white media, because let’s face it, that’s really who is behind all of this.

    Whilst at the Sundance Fest, did you perhaps see the film ‘Untouchable’ about Harvey Weinstein? HW who has been accused of sexually abusing a person whilst at Sundance a few years before and is a friend of the Sundance founders. Where you aware that Leaving Neverland was brought in at a last-minute submission? Only to detract from the HW film is my guess… I mean who is talking about that? A film about a man accused of abuse by dozens and dozens of women and whereby it’s BEEN PROVEN.

    Michael Jackson, despite being dead for the past 10 years is still the biggest star in the world. His name alone sells, whether its papers, tv shows, music, theatre, fake and slanderous documentaries etc. This is nothing but character association 101.

    “There wasn’t a single day when we went together that he didn’t abuse me” says Wade Robson to the camera, almost convincingly (to those who are easily impressionable). Think about it. EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. THEY. WERE. TOGETHER.

    It is the biggest load of nonsense to ever get airtime and people are lapping it up.

    No mention of the men’s failed attempt at suing the Estate which subsequently resulted in them owing thousands back to them, or their denial (multiple times) on tv, in interviews, by law enforcement, attorneys and whilst UNDER OATH.

    No mention of Wade begging, BEGGING the MJ Estate if he could go to MJ’s memorial to pay his respects (I’ve seen his emails and you can too if you check Taj Jacksons Twitter feed) or Jimmy working on the marketing and publicity for Michael ‘This Is It’ film or when Wade was rejected from his ‘dream job’ of working on the MJ Cirque du soleil show in Vegas – which was the real reason this whole debacle started in the first place, not because he became a father as he claims.

    Michael Jackson will one day be able to finally rest in peace and that his children have happy and fulfilling lives surrounded by love.

    I sincerely hope that this film is pulled and that the truth will be presented to the public. In fact, it’s all available for them to discover if they took the time to do their research (below). I know what side of history I will be on when that time comes. When people do eventually come around to the facts, they’ll be the first ones to deny they ever bad-mouthed MJ in the first place. Don’t be surprised to see Wade and Jimmy in the future sporting MJ attire. It wouldn’t surprise me. Although Wade wont be wearing his THRILLER jacket anymore, because had you chosen to stay and watch the end of the film, you’d have witnessed the crème de la crème of endings, when Wade is filmed throwing it into a pit of fire along with other items (cue melodramatic music here) before trying to cry and no tears come out. Of course, one must wonder why someone would keep all these things for years if they’d been given to you by your abuser. It’s unfathomable. Pity Wade didn’t have more MJ memorabilia to include in the ritualistic burning at the end of the film, but sadly, he has spent years (along with his sister Chantal) flogging it all online to make quick money. Another fact that is omitted from the film. How convenient.

    Sean, London

    • Carla Renata

      I agree with you. I think it is unfair character assassination of someone who is dead. The ritualistic burning means nothing to me. Why would you sell some items and burn some. It’s all just a little too suspect for me. No, I didn’t see the Weinstein doc. I was done after this one. Thanks for sharing, commenting and for taking the time to read what I write:)

    • Terrell

      What they are doing in this film is throwing every lie at the wall and see what stick. That is what people do when they are trying to gain something. Make think real bad. It is called “OVERKILL” and I hope people see through that nonsense. See Carla, you are dealing in common sense. Like you said why would u sell some items and burn some”. And lets be real, why would MJ allow people to defended him under oath in court know good in well they will have to undergo the DA’s cross examine if he abused them? That never happens if a person is guilty.

  • Valerie

    Your article is VERY useful! Thank you so much for spreading common sence in this media hell of hate and fake news! But the name of the film is “Leaving Neverland” – not “Finding Neverland”. Can you, please. correct it, so that we can spread your post all over the social nets? Thank you in advance!

  • Debbie Longshaw

    Hi Carla,
    I am afraid that the title of your article is ‘Finding Neverland’.
    It is a brilliant well balanced review but please, please change the typo’s.

    • Carla Renata

      it was weird that the title were showing up different on various devices. the correction has been mad and thank you for bringing it to my attention

  • Carla Renata

    While I appreciate your right to an opinion, I would kindly ask you to keep your snarky, condescending comments to yourself. I’m sure there are plenty of films you have not seen all the way through and had an opinion about what you DID see. It is my right to review and comment on what I DID see and frankly I had seen enough. You don’t have to agree with me or like what I write. But, I will not allow you to come to my site to harass and insult me, my opinions or the way I choose to review a film.

  • adrimichael

    Hello, Carla! I appreciate your article. It is rare to see unbiased reviews on this subject. Wade and James are contradictory and there is evidence that they have lied. They omitted a lot of important information. Michael Jackson is being killed for the second time and unable to defend himself. Please, watch this video when you get time. Thank you very much!

      • Seth Corbin

        Please take a look at this twitter thread. It’s about how Safechuck put his story together by borrowing from a pedophile propaganda book. Victor Gutierrez bragged about attending a NAMBLA conference in the 80s and contacted parents Joy Robson and Wayne Safechuck and tried to convince them MJ was pedophile.Those two parents didn’t believe it but then Gutierrez approached Evan Chandler and Evan saw an opportunity to blackmail MJ if he doesn’t pay 20m they would accuse him. Evan was a screenwriter, knew how to write fictional stories. Gutierrez helped him write a detailed molestation story. Safechuck who tried to scare the Estate into a settlement with a detailed and graphic story either flat out copied Gutierrez’s book or Gutierrez offered to write his story for him. Given that Stacy Brown and Diane Dimond were in contact with Safechuck and both of them knew Gutierrez well, Dimond called him “one of my best source” it possible they arranged Guteirrez to write Safechuck’s story. In any case there is no doubt it’s a fabricated story, I don’t believe a word that comes out of Safechuck’s mouth. He is a disgusting opportunist.

      • Seth Corbin

        More info about how Gutierrez started the witch hunt against MJ and how he had a hand in virtually all allegations against MJ

        the media vehemently suppresses this evidence. If they admitted MJ was framed and framed by a NAMBLA member pedophile it would destroy the narrative they have been pushing about this man for 25 years. It would be one of the biggest scandals in the history of US and UK media. So they refuse to report the facts.

  • Christopher White

    Wade was in a rap group on MJJ Records when he was 12 called Quo. When Robson filed his lawsuit the other guy in the group, Dewayne Turrentine, who is an actor, went to Facebook and like most people that worked with Michael Jackson SWORE by him. He said nothing happened to him inappropriately and he thanks Jackson for putting him on. Basically Michael was great to him.

    So you are telling me he was banging you all the time y’all were together, even when you were doing the music with a partner? On nights your mom and sister were there? You were an “Oscar winning actor” because it wasn’t an act.

    I think they made the lie too big

  • Stephen Carmody

    Thanks for the fair and balanced review of the film Carla, when it comes to Jackson every reporter turns into some kind of a crazy tabloid, the facts are everywhere this story is fake but it’s being ignored, it’s all very strange,

    Thanks again

  • Dani

    “There was one moment Wade Robson pulls out a jewelry box full of gold rings that were supposedly given to him by MJ for sexual favors.”

    This allegation is puzzling in and of itself as well. What use would a 7-12 yo boy have for jewelry anyway. You would think if the abuser was doling out gifts as a payment it would be candy, or toys or something that a child would actually enjoy…

    • thenok

      Yes. The ring thing sounds outlandish. Like I said I think they made the lie way too big. Their stories have changed since coming forward. It was the memories were repressed in the beginning, and I think it was for legal purposes because its a way of getting around the statue of limitations being up. It can come out in therapy up to three years. Then it was their son made them realize that they wouldn’t want anything like what they endured to happen to the kids. Then its I always remembered the abuse, but I compartmentalize it.

      Wade was asked about being a liar when he took the stand in 2005 to defend Jackson against the Arvizo kid, and he said he didn’t see it was being wrong. That he thought it was love.


      Zonnen and Sneddon didn’t ask him did Michael Jackson abused him. If you read the court case or seen the re-enactment they asked specific questions like did Michael Jackson touch your penis? Did he perform fellatio on him? Etc. Attorneys ask yes or no questions usually anyway. Wade Robson said “Absolutely not. I wouldn’t be here if he did those things to me.” Scott Ross was the investigator for the defense and he said Wade was credible as it can get, and he believes he is lying right now.

      And there is no way you can say this isn’t about money. The number isn’t known, but some say it was $1.5 billion they wanted from the estate. Also Dan Reed said the two didn’t know each other before the screening. How is that possible, when they have the same lawyers in their lawsuit.

      Reed also said he would have interviewed Macaulay Culkin and Brett Barnes and I think that is a falsehood. Macaulay was on a podcast recently calling allegations that Michael Jackson was a pedophile stupid. And Brett Barnes is on Twitter right now calling Robson and Safechuck’s allegations lies.

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