In response to HBO’s Leaving Neverland — the four-hour Michael Jackson documentary that aims to expose the late King of Pop’s alleged sexual abuse crimes — comes Neverland Firsthand: Investigating the Michael Jackson Documentary.
Leaving Neverland has been criticized harshly for its one-sided perspective, which is why Neverland Firsthand was created to “shed light on information that was excluded from HBO’s broadcast,” according to the film’s description on YouTube.
Through interviews conducted with individuals once close to Jackson — including his collaborators, employees and even some of his family members — the film provides a new outlook on the ongoing controversy.
The mini-documentary was shared to YouTube on March 30. It was directed by Eli Pedraza and produced by Liam McEwan, who serves also as the narrator and key interviewer.
Brandi Jackson (Michael’s niece) was the first of the Jackson family members to appear in Neverland Firsthand.
She shared her side of the story, claiming that Robson was never sexually involved with her uncle. Robson came forward with allegations for the first time in 2013 after previously defending the Thriller singer against multiple allegations in the mid-1990s.
Brandi, 37, and Robson, 36, allegedly met when they were young children and spent a lot of time together in Neverland Ranch, Michael’s 2,800-acre home.
She claimed that she had dated Robson for seven years. He reportedly “developed a crush” and asked her to be his boyfriend after Michael “set them up.”
“He’s saying that he was in a relationship with my uncle, that they were in love and that they were having a relationship,” said Brandi during the interview.
“He’s saying that my uncle kept him from women, which is not true,” she claimed. “We were just talking about how my uncle put us together. It would discredit the things that he’s trying to claim, and I find it fascinating that he thinks he’s able to just erase 10 years of his life.”
“He has always been a bit of an opportunist,” she told McEwan before claiming that Robson’s allegations were made as an effort to make money.
“He knows how to position himself into different situations that will benefit him in a financial way,” she said.
In a statement posted to Billboard, Robson’s attorney Vince William Finaldi refuted Brandi’s claims.
“Ms. Jackson was not with Wade and Michael Jackson when the sexual abuse occurred,” Finaldi claimed. “She has nothing relevant to say about the topic.”
Nephew Taj Jackson also stepped into the spotlight to defend his uncle once more.
“When you have a certain niceness, people take advantage of it,” he said, referring to the singer’s reportedly kindhearted nature towards children.
Taj also revealed recently that he had been present at a number of Jackson’s sleepovers when he was a child. He claimed Michael never had the capacity to see his actions in a sexual way and that it was all “very innocent.”
“My uncle didn’t have that bone in his body to look at it the other way,” he claimed. “I think that was the thing, that his naiveté was his downfall in a way.”
Taj further claimed the accusers only wanted money from the Jackson estate.
“It’s always been about the money,” he added.
“I hate to say it, but when it’s my uncle, it’s almost like they see a blank cheque.”
Although none of them have admitted to seeing the movie, various members of the Jackson family previously spoke out against Leaving Neverland in January, claiming it was “a public lynching” against the late singer.
Since the Smooth Criminal singer first went on trial in 1993, his family has consistently defended him, claiming that he had no ill intentions with any of the children he befriended.
It wasn’t only Jackson’s family hoping to defend him, however. The singer’s longtime technical director, Brad Sundberg, spoke to McEwan in the film, claiming that nothing suspicious ever happened between Jackson and the children with whom he was involved.
“Not in a million years did I ever see a child around Michael Jackson that looked like they had been distressed, hurt or abused,” said Sundberg. “Neverland was such a peaceful, safe, fun place.”
Since the release of Neverland Firsthand, many have been questioning the authenticity of director Brad Reed‘s “one-sided” Leaving Neverland.
In addition to the handful of sexual abuse allegations made against Jackson, the premieres of Living with Michael Jackson (2003), Leaving Neverland and After Neverland have contributed to the dwindling of the pop star’s persona since 1993.
WATCH: A timeline of Michael Jackson’s sexual abuse allegations
Throughout his life, Jackson denied all sexual assault and abuse accusations. The singer was never found guilty of any crime in a court of law.
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