EXCLUSIVE: Leaving Neverland director Dan Reed is embroiled in a authorized wrangle with Michael Jackson’s legacy firms as he makes an attempt to shoot a sequel to his explosive, Emmy-winning Channel 4/HBO documentary.
Deadline can reveal that Reed has been filming within the Los Angeles Superior Court docket as Wade Robson and James Safechuck, the 2 males on the middle of Leaving Neverland, pursue separate claims towards MJJ Productions and MJJ Ventures after alleging that they have been sexually assaulted by the King of Pop once they have been minors.
Reed’s footage will likely be utilized in a follow-up movie for Channel 4, through which he captures the authorized wars being waged by Robson and Safechuck after their emotional Leaving Neverland interviews lit a fireplace below considerations that Jackson was a predator. In producing the second documentary, nonetheless, MJJ Productions and MJJ Ventures have sought to entangle Reed within the court docket proceedings.
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Jackson’s firms served Reed and his manufacturing outfit, Amos Photos, with subpoenas demanding that he personally seem for deposition and hand over paperwork and supplies associated to Leaving Neverland and the sequel. The subpoenas, served on September 21, have been adopted by Jackson’s attorneys submitting a short through which they try to discredit Reed, persuade the court docket that he’s not a reliable journalist, and painting Leaving Neverland as one-sided. They’re additionally making an attempt to ban him from filming within the courtroom.
Reed hit again with a movement to quash the subpoenas on the LA court docket final week. Throughout the 79-page movement, he makes clear that he’s a UK resident and Amos doesn’t function in California, which might make it tough for a choose to compel Reed at hand over manufacturing supplies. He additionally factors out that he has no private affiliation with Robson and Safechuck, and has not paid the plaintiffs to seem in his sequel — a declare made to the court docket by the Jackson firms.
In response to the transient’s “various false accusations” about his credibility, Reed laid out his document as an Emmy and BAFTA-winning filmmaker who needs to make use of the follow-up Leaving Neverland documentary to chronicle the authorized proceedings from either side. “The follow-up documentary for which I am currently filming in these cases is about current events taking place partly in public view and will be an unfolding narrative with multiple points of view,” he mentioned.
Reed connected emails exhibiting that he has requested MJJ Productions and MJJ Ventures counsel Howard Weitzman to seem within the second documentary. Following a constructive assembly with Reed in June, Weitzman declined. “I have resolved that neither myself or anyone in my offices will participate in the documentary we all discussed for several reasons. Among them is the fact that you are already clearly on the record saying that you believe both accusers’ stories without hesitation,” Weitzman mentioned in an e mail final month. John Branca, the Jackson firms’ CEO and co-executor of the Michael Jackson Property, additionally refused to take part within the documentary.
Reed’s movement to quash was supported by a declaration from Channel 4’s head of stories and present affairs Louisa Compton. In a strongly-worded protection of the director, she mentioned the Jackson firms have been making an attempt to “suppress” reporting on the Robson and Safechuck circumstances.
Compton mentioned: “Understandably, the MJJ companies are not happy with “Leaving Neverland” or the making of the follow-up documentary. It’s simple to see why they don’t want the subject material of those movies to be reported to the general public. Nevertheless, as a lot as they could dislike the messages which can be being conveyed by these documentaries, we strenuously oppose their efforts to “shoot the messenger.”
“In particular, we at Channel 4 oppose their effort to use subpoenas to try to force Reed and his company to turn over all of their unpublished materials and drag this journalist into depositions. In the UK, as in the United States, the courts are very reluctant to order journalists to hand over unbroadcast and other journalistic material, given the strong legal protections that exist to protect freedom of expression. The motives of the MJJ companies are further revealed by their attempt to ban Reed from filming in the courtroom and thereby prohibit him from getting footage to report on the proceedings. We oppose these efforts to suppress journalism by preventing Reed from further informing the public about these matters of vital public importance.”
In a press release to Deadline, she added: “At Channel 4 we have a robust record of defending freedom of expression. We routinely oppose those who seek orders for journalists to hand over unbroadcast and other journalistic material, grateful for the strong legal protections that exist to protect journalists in the UK and the US.”
A listening to on Reed’s movement to quash the subpoenas is scheduled to happen on April 9 subsequent 12 months. LA County Superior Court docket Choose Mark A. Younger dismissed Safechuck’s lawsuit on Tuesday. Safechuck is able to attraction. Robson’s case goes to trial on June 14, 2021.
Deadline understands that HBO just isn’t but connected to the second Leaving Neverland movie. This is because of its personal ongoing authorized dispute with the Jackson property, which is claiming that the unique documentary constituted a breach of a non-disparagement clause in a 1992 contract for an HBO live performance particular on Jackson’s Harmful tour. Amos Photos is hopeful of securing a U.S. co-production companion.
Leaving Neverland received an Emmy for Excellent Documentary or Nonfiction Particular, whereas it was additionally awarded a BAFTA TV award for Factual Sequence.