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Leaving Neverland was named best documentary or nonfiction special at the 2019 Creative Arts Emmys on Saturday night. The Dan Reed-directed film — which spans four hours and explores sexual abuse claims made against the late Michael Jackson by former child stars James Safechuck and Wade Robson — premiered in March on HBO.
Jackson’s estate on Monday responded to Leaving Neverland‘s win in a statement to The Hollywood Reporter. “For a film that is a complete fiction to be honored in a nonfiction Emmy category is a complete farce,” it said. “Not one shred of proof supports this completely one-sided, so-called documentary which was made in secrecy and for which not one person outside of the two subjects and their families were interviewed.”
Leaving Neverland had earned a total of five nominations heading into Saturday’s ceremony, including for 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 project “a tabloid character assassination” and insisted it “isn’t a documentary,” while Jackson’s family called Reed and the pic’s two accusers “opportunists.”
Earlier this summer, when this year’s Emmy nominations were announced, Reed told THR how much the recognition from the Television Academy meant to him and those who worked on the documentary.
“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.”
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