'Leaving Neverland' director denies claims from Michael Jackson's lawyer that footage of him is deliberately misleading
The Leaving Neverland documentary, which first aired on HBO back in January, has been a topic of controversy since its conception - especially for friends and family of the so-called King of Pop. However, no amount of backlash was going to stop Dan Reed, the director, from sharing the stories of Wade Robson and James Safechuck.
So far, Reed has faced criticism from Michael Jackson's fans, been hit with a lawsuit from the Jackson family estate, and, more recently, been accused of using footage of one of MJ's lawyers "out of context".
Mark Geragos, a lawyer who represented Jackson during his 2005 trial for child molestation was featured briefly in the documentary. A clip of him was used, during which he appears to state that the pop star’s accusers are "seeking money" and says their supporters are "living in their own Neverland."
This, Geragos says, was taken completely out of context.
Indeed, the extended version of the clip shows that Geragos was actually talking about a lawsuit against Xtrajet: a private jet firm that had secretly filmed Jackson on a flight before he handed himself into police. Here is the unedited portion of the press conference:
However, Reed has doubled down on his decision to include the edited footage in his film, saying that "[Geragos'] remarks at the press conference have everything to do with Jackson’s accusers."
"The press conference in question was on November 25, 2003," Reed told NME. "Mark Geragos is talking about the 'allegations' against Michael Jackson. Later on in the press conference, he talks about 'accusations' in the same vein.
"These ‘accusations’ and ‘allegations’ he’s protesting about are not the ones he’s making against Xtrajet but the ones 13-year-old Gavin Arvizo made against Michael Jackson, resulting in Jackson’s arrest five days earlier."
Reed replied on Twitter to refute Geragos' claims, and then to other users who had joined in the conversation.
"Dan, you have been doing a great job with this, but I believe Gergagos is correct in his denials," said one user. "If you watch the entire tape.. he's talking about the people who allegedly took video inside a private jet of him & MJ while in a private jet...and shopped it around to the media [sic]."
"Thanks and yes it’s the Xtrajet pc just after MJ’s arrest," Reed replied. "In that pc he discusses Xtrajet AND the sex abuse allegations against MJ which is the bit we used. Make sense?"
Channel 4, which aired the documentary in the UK, has stood by Reed in his decision to include the footage.
"At the time Mr. Gergaros was acting for Mr. Jackson in relation to both the child abuse allegation and the Xtrajet matter," a spokesperson said. "We considered that his remarks at the press conference could fairly be interpreted as indicative of the potential legal response to allegations made about Mr. Jackson. Previous press reporting took the same view."
Gergaros has continued to tweet about the matter, but Reed denies any wrongdoing.