Sexual Abuse Docs 'Leaving Neverland,' 'Surviving R. Kelly' Nominated for 2019 Emmys
HBO's documentary about Michael Jackson earned five noms, while Lifetime's R. Kelly series received one.
The 2019 Emmy nominations were announced Tuesday morning and among the honorees were sexual abuse documentaries Leaving Neverland, from HBO, and Lifetime's Surviving R. Kelly — both of which explored claims made against prominent men in the music industry.
HBO's four-hour film — which featured testimony from Wade Robson and James Safechuck, two men who claim to have suffered childhood sexual abuse at the hands of the late Michael Jackson — earned a total of five noms. The project — directed by Dan Reed — was nominated in the following categories: outstanding directing for a documentary/nonfiction program; outstanding documentary or nonfiction special; outstanding picture editing for a nonfiction program; outstanding sound editing for a nonfiction program; and outstanding sound mixing for a nonfiction program.
After Leaving Neverland's debut in January at the Sundance Film Festival, Jackson's estate called the film "a tabloid character assassination" and insisted it "isn't a documentary," while his family called Reed and the pic's two accusers "opportunists."
Reed shared his reaction to Leaving Neverland's multiple Emmy nods in a statement to The Hollywood Reporter. "Since Leaving Neverland aired in March, it has launched many important conversations about child sexual abuse and the grooming that accompanies it. This was why James Safechuck and Wade Robson and their families spoke out, and why we made the documentary," said Reed. "We’re delighted that the Academy has honored that purpose — and our dedicated creative team — with five nominations."
Surviving R. Kelly, meanwhile, received one nom. Lifetime's six-episode series — which aired in January and featured more than 50 people speaking about alleged acts of abuse by the R&B singer — was nominated for outstanding informational series or special.
News of Surviving R. Kelly's Emmy nom comes just days after news broke that Kelly was arrested on charges that he recruited girls and women to have illegal sex with him and then covered up the crimes by paying and threatening the victims and witnesses.
In a statement to THR, Surviving R. Kelly executive producer Dream Hampton expressed her gratitude to the Television Academy for recognizing her work. "Our team is so grateful to the Academy for this nomination, and to the brave women who sat with us and shared their stories on camera," said Hampton. "We could have never imagined the impact Surviving R. Kelly would have, but we hope it continues a long overdue and necessary conversation that centers on survivors."
The Primetime Emmy Awards, honoring the best in TV programming, will be handed out Sunday, Sept. 22. The show will air live on Fox starting at 5 p.m. PT from the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles. A host has not yet been announced.
July 16, 10:52 a.m. Updated with statement from Surviving R. Kelly executive producer Dream Hampton.
July 17, 11:50 a.m. Updated with statement from Leaving Neverland director Dan Reed.