CHANNEL 4 is beefing up security after crackpot fans hit out at the broadcaster over its Michael Jackson documentary – and it hasn’t even aired yet.
Boss Ian Katz has stepped up security at the broadcaster after staff were trolled online over Leaving Neverland, which explores sexual abuse allegations against the star, who died in 2009.
He told employees in an email: “There has been quite a bit of co-ordinated protest against the film from both the Jackson estate and fans’ groups, including some C4 employees being targeted with online abuse.”
He urged staff who “have been the victim of any harassment” to come to him or C4’s security team.
He defended Leaving Neverland as “a remarkable and important documentary”, despite claims by the Jackson family this week that the film breaks the channel’s own editorial guidelines.
The news comes after the broadcaster confirmed it will air the documentary despite the backlash from the singer’s family and fans.
Jackson’s estate had slammed as “disgraceful” the contentious Leaving Neverland documentary that claims he molested boys.
Leaving Neverland will air on Channel 4 on March 6 and March 7 in two parts, starting at 9pm each night.
The Michael Jackson estate had sent a letter to Channel 4 warning that a documentary on two men who accuse the singer of child sex abuse violates the network’s programming guidelines.
The letter written by estate attorney Howard Weitzman states that “Leaving Neverland,” makes no attempt at getting a response to the accusers from Jackson’s estate, family, friends or others who have defended his reputation.
This, it is claimed, is required by the channel’s standards for factual programming and basic journalistic ethics.
CHANNEL REJECTS BIAS CLAIMS
But Channel 4 said in a statement that the allegations against Jackson are rebutted in the documentary by denials that Jackson made during his lifetime.
It says the broadcast meets Britain’s official broadcasting code by providing these denials.
“On this occasion the person against whom the significant allegations are being made is deceased.
“It is therefore appropriate that his denials during life are included in the program,” the station said.
The film’s director Dan Reed has addressed the criticism from the estate previously, saying in a statement that he intentionally focused on just Robson and Safechuck.
Reed said: “Anyone who sees the film will know it is solely about hearing the stories of two specific individuals and their families in their own words, and that is a focus we are very proud of.”
BID TO PULL DOC
The three-page document from the estate echoes a longer letter it sent to HBO on Friday calling the allegations from Wade Robson and James Safechuck “disgraceful” and urging investigation of the men’s backgrounds.
A copy of the HBO letter was included with the Channel 4 letter, and applies just as much to the UK station, the letter states.
The two channels co-produced the documentary account of how the two men’s lives intersected with Jackson’s when they were kids at the height of his fame, and how the trauma of what they say happened in their youth started to emerge in their adult life.
Jackson died in 2009 of an overdose of the drugs propofol and benzodiazepine after suffering a cardiac arrest.
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It premiered last month at the Sundance Film Festival, where Robson and Safechuck got a standing ovation afterward.
Both had previously told authorities Jackson did not molest them, with Robson testifying as much in Jackson’s 2005 trial, in which he was acquitted of molesting another boy. Jackson died in 2009.
Both men later filed lawsuits that were dismissed and are currently on appeal.
The new documentary Leaving Neverland explores some of the sexual abuse allegations made against Michael Jackson[/caption]
Wade Robson claims Jackson was a serial sex offender
Most of the alleged abuse is said to have taken place at Jackson’s Neverland Ranch in California[/caption]
Jordan Chandler, right centre, claims Jackson molested him. His family were paid a reported $23m[/caption]