Michael Jackson Documentary ‘Leaving Neverland’ Described As ‘Disturbing’

Michael Jackson (image via Flickr/Francesco)

Leaving Neverland, the new four-hour documentary that focuses on two alleged cases of sexual abuse by pop star Michael Jackson, debuted last night at the Sundance Film Festival.

From People:

The emotional film was only halfway through when viewers began sharing their thoughts on the “sickening” claims from James Safechuck and Wade Robson, both of whom say they endured years of Jackson’s inappropriate behaviors and manipulation.

“It’s halftime at the four-hour Michael Jackson doc and I’m already gonna need 400 showers to ever feel clean again. #Sundance” David Ehrlich, a Senior Film Critic at Indie Wire, tweeted after the doc’s first two hours.

“On a 10-min break halfway through Sundance’s 4-hour Michael Jackson child sex abuse documentary,” wrote Kevin Fallon, Senior Entertainment Reporter at The Daily Beast.

“Whatever you thought you knew or were aware of, the content of this is more disturbing than you could imagine. And again, we’re only halfway through.”

In response, fans argued back that there was “no evidence” and that people “never tried to understand Michael and see who he really was.”

“You are falling for the wrong stuff & you are being played and you will see that pretty soon! Wait on it,” wrote one fan.

Robson claims he first met Jackson at the age of 5 in his native Australia.

Two years later, his family was invited to stay at Jackson’s Neverland Ranch home in California, where he claims he slept in Jackson’s bed and said he was first sexually abused by him.

Robson says the abuse went on for seven years and ended because he grew out of an age that Jackson was interested in.

However, Robson testified as a witness for Jackson’s defense during a sexual abuse trial in 2005 where the pop star was acquitted of child molestation charges.

Safechuck claimed in 2014 that he was sexually abused by the icon when he was 10 years old after appearing in a Pepsi commercial with him.

Safechuck says that his relationship with Jackson culminated in joining Jackson on his Bad tour, and it was then that the alleged sexual abuse began.

The Jackson estate issued a statement to People in advance of the premiere of Leaving Neverland, which read:

“This is yet another lurid production in an outrageous and pathetic attempt to exploit and cash in on Michael Jackson.

“Wade Robson and James Safechuck have both testified under oath that Michael never did anything inappropriate toward them. Safechuck and Robson, the latter a self-proclaimed ‘master of deception’, filed lawsuits against Michael’s Estate, asking for millions of dollars. Both lawsuits were dismissed.

“This so called ‘documentary’ is just another rehash of dated and discredited allegations.

“It’s baffling why any credible filmmaker would involve himself with this project.”

Jackson died in 2009 at the age of 50 in his L.A. mansion.

Leaving Neverland premieres on HBO this spring.

There Is Nothing Like A ‘Dame’

Dames Maggie Smith, Joan Plo

Truly, no one throws friendly shade like a Dame.

And by ‘Dame,’ I mean those delicious British divas, Dames Maggie Smith, Judi Dench, Joan Plowright, and Eileen Atkins, who are featured in the upcoming documentary, Tea with the Dames.

Set in a British country house, the four actresses spend a day together allowing cameras to capture friendships dating back more than half a century. The four icons chat on their careers and spill the ‘tea’ a bit.

The film has a 100% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

In a one-minute teaser below, Judi Dench shares her belief that “We’re going to work forever, if we’re asked.”

Without a pause, Maggie Smith, who knows how to drop a good line, replies, “But, you’re always asked first, if I may say so.”

“I’m turning on you, it’s all coming out now,” Smith says with a hint of smile.

Plowright, after adjusting her hearing aid, chimes in saying her American agent has told her in the past that they are always on the lookout for “a nice cameo that Judi Dench hasn’t got her paws on.”

Brilliant.

EW also reports that the grand ‘Dames’ didn’t go easy on the film crew either.

The session gets off to a shady start right from the get-go as the women pose for a photo while cutting the crew down to size.

“That’s an awful angle. It’s not fair to old ladies,” Atkins quips as Smith cackles before asking an off-camera photographer, “Is it your first day?”

When asked about working with their husbands, Plowright admits, “Obviously mine was the most difficult.”

Smith, again with the dry retort, “Well, we all found him tricky.”

For those who miss Smith’s drop-dead delivery, you’ll be happy to know the upcoming Downton Abbey movie has announced a release date of September 20, 2019.

Here’s the full trailer for Tea with the Dames. Take a break and enjoy the shade with the ‘Dames.’

Tea with the Dames is in limited release on September 21.

Documentary: ‘Scotty and the Secret History of Hollywood’

From the official synopsis:

Scotty and the Secret History of Hollywood is the deliciously scandalous story of Scotty Bowers, a handsome ex-Marine who landed in Hollywood after World War II and became confidante, aide-de-camp and lover to many of Hollywood’s greatest male—and female—stars.

In the 1940s and ‘50s, Scotty ran a gas station in the shadow of the studio lots where he would connect his friends with actors and actresses who had to hide their true sexual identities for fear of police raids at gay bars, societal shunning and career suicide. An unsung Hollywood legend, Bowers would cater to the sexual appetites of celebrities—straight and gay–for decades.

The list of A-list celebrities Bowers attended to reads like a who’s who of golden age Hollywood. Rock Hudson, Cole Porter, Cary Grant, and Katharine Hepburn were among the stars Bowers reportedly catered to.

The documentary is based on the New York Times best-selling memoir Full Service: My Adventures in Hollywood and the Secret Sex Lives of the Stars.

After having a successful run on the film festival circuit, the film opens in Los Angeles on July 27 and on August 3 in NYC.

Watch the trailer below.

Imagine Dragons’ Dan Reynolds Wants To Change How Mormon Church Sees LGBTQ Youth

LGBTQ ally Dan Reynolds, of Imagine Dragons, wants the Mormon Church to rethink how it views LGBTQ youth
Dan Reynolds of Imagine Dragons

How much do we love Grammy Award-winning Imagine Dragons frontman, Dan Reynolds?

Raised Mormon, Reynolds has spent years fighting for greater LGBTQ acceptance within the church.

Growing up, the native Utahn had a middle school friend who was Mormon and gay, and he watched how the struggles of trying to resolve the two worlds wore on his friend. Reynolds also says he’s lost high school friends to suicide.

Determined to affect change, he and former Mormon rocker Tyler Glenn teamed up last year to create the annual music festival LoveLoud held in Salt Lake City which aims to raise money for LGBTQ charities and organizations like The Trevor Project and the Tegan and Sara Foundation.

This year the event takes place on July 28.

“I think the LoveLoud stage is the most important stage I will ever stand on,” the 30-year-old recently told Queerty. “The festival has helped facilitate vital conversation about what it means to truly love and accept our LGBTQ youth.”

New documentary 'Believer' follows Dan Reynolds mission to perpetuate change within the Mormon Church and how it treats LGBTQ youth

The new documentary, Believer, follows Reynolds as he launched the music festival last year and also explores how the Mormon Church treats its LGBTQ members.

“I hope people understand the importance of fully accepting and loving our LGBTQ youth,” says Reynolds about the film. “I hope people are able to watch and feel the harsh realities that our LGBTQ youth are facing in faith-based communities. I hope it perpetuates change.”

Watch the trailer for Believer below and check out info for LoveLoud Music Festival here.

Out Documentary: “The Fabulous Allan Carr”

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Emmy Award-winning documentarian Jeffrey Schwarz has delivered his latest peek behind the scenes of Hollywood in exploring the life and career of producer Allan Carr, The Fabulous Allan Carr.

The documentary chronicles the enormous successes of Carr (Grease, La Cage Aux Folles) as well as his most infamous disasters (Grease 2, You Can’t Stop The Music, the 1989 Academy Awards Show).

Back in the day when “flamboyant” was as direct as you could be in terms of addressing someone’s homosexuality, Carr boldly lived his life out loud.

Born Allan Solomon (he changed his name to Carr because he rhymed with “star”), Carr moved from his hometown of Chicago to Los Angeles to become a part of the world he had only dreamed of.

Donned in caftans to hide his up-down-and-up again weight gains, the producer/manager threw lavish pool parties at his glamorous mansion entertaining Hollywood A-listers as well as the town’s hottest gays.

According to legend, it was when the stars departed that the party would devolve into an orgy to satisfy Carr’s voyeurism for observing hot LA boys.

His early career consisted of managing celebrities like Marlo Thomas, Ann-Margret, Tony Curtis, Peter Sellers, Rosalind Russell, and Dyan Cannon. Carr was instrumental in helping Ann-Margret shift from young sex kitten into a full-fledged star on the Las Vegas Strip as well as taking on roles in movies like Tommy and Carnal Knowledge, for which she would be nominated for an Oscar.

After working in a promotional capacity on films Tommy and Saturday Night Fever with producer Robert Stigwood, Carr moved into full-on producing with a pet project that would put him on the Hollywood map, the massively successful film adaptation of the Broadway musical Grease.

Starring up-and-coming John Travolta, who was known at the time for his turn on TV’s Welcome Back Kotter, and Grammy Award winning pop star Olivia Newton-John, the musical film became Carr’s ticket to the big time.

To this day the film – which is the highest grossing movie musical of all time – continues airing on some network somewhere at any given time of day, and is celebrating it’s 40 anniversary this year.

Unfortunately, he followed that enormous triumph with the late-to-the-disco-party musical film, You Can’t Stop The Music. Meant as a vehicle to introduce The Village People to the world, the 1980 film, which starred Steve Guttenberg, Valerie Perrine and Bruce (now Caitlyn) Jenner, was a major misfire that was ripped by critics and avoided by movie-goers.

Carr shifted back to more familiar terrain in 1982 with the Michelle Pfeiffer/Maxwell Caulfield tuner Grease 2, which also failed at the box office although it has carried on as a camp classic.

Then came redemption as Carr produced the smash Broadway musical La Cage Aux Folles in 1983. Not only did the show win six Tony Awards (including one for Carr as producer of the “Best Musical”) but it brought him some of the “respectability” he had always craved. And in true Carr style, the show gave Broadway its first-ever openly gay musical love story.

Carr’s last final big-time moment came when he was tapped to produce the 1989 Academy Awards which featured the now-infamous Rob Lowe/“Snow White” opening number.

While most remember the opening number, Schwarz makes a point to give credit to Carr for two lasting changes at the Oscars.

It was Carr who came up with the new announcement “and the Oscar goes to…” instead of “the winner is.”

And he is credited with creating the now-show-biz-standard release approach of opening a film the last month of the year in one theater in Los Angeles and one theater in New York City to create Oscar buzz.

But the Academy Awards debacle and criticism hurt Carr deeply, and he became something of a recluse after that. He did manage to have a last hurrah attending the 20th anniversary of Grease re-release in 1998 before succumbing to cancer in 1999 at the age of 62.

The documentary rightly makes a point to highlight Carr’s self-promotional skills as he was one of the first producers to make himself a celebrity of sorts. Rarely had a Hollywood producer appeared on so many of the top talk shows of the day before Carr.

Like his earlier documentaries I Am Divine and Tab Hunter: Confidential, this should be required viewing for the gay history alone. Based on the larger-than-life personality along with spectacular hits and notorious misses that touch on so many gay-centric projects (he gave us The Village People, folks), I recommend the film.

Carr himself is a compelling subject in light of his personal over-the-top Hollywood flair, but also his darker, injured moments.

The film is now available via Video-On-Demand. Find more info about the film at the official website.

Watch the trailer below:

Documentary Explores Closeted Pro Athletes “Alone In The Game”

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A new documentary from AT&T Audience Network, Alone in the Game, reveals the constant challenges that LGBT athletes face in the competitive arena of pro sports.

Interviews with former Olympic freeskier Gus Kenworthy, NBA center Jason Collins, MLS Cup champion Robbie Rogers, NFL draftee Michael Sam, NBA commissioner Adam Silver, former ESPN president John Skipper, and triathlete Chris Mosier are among those included in the film.

In a sobering moment that illustrates how deep the fear of coming out in pro sports can be, former NFL lineman Ryan O’Callaghan admits, “I’d always planned on killing myself when I was done with football.”

“I thought I’d rather be dead than an out gay man,” he adds.

Ryan O’Callaghan in “Alone in the Game”

In one scene of the film, a gay Division I football player asked to have his face and voice disguised to explain why he won’t come out of the closet: “I’m not ashamed, just scared.”

“If there wasn’t homophobia in sports, and if everyone felt comfortable to be who they were, then everyone who was gay would be out,” says Olympic soccer player Megan Rapinoe.

“We’re giving viewers a rare look into the lives of these elite athletes’ unique journeys and open their eyes to the daily challenges these athletes face on and off the field of play,” says executive producer and creator of Alone in the Game, David McFarland.

“With added attention to this issue, I’m hopeful we can affect real change at the highest levels of American sport and that the next generation of LGBTQ athletes will be judged by their athletic performance, rather than their sexual orientation or gender identity.”

With the retirement of Robbie Rogers from pro soccer and Jason Collins from the NBA, there are currently no out athletes in any of the major professional team sports in the U.S.

Watch the trailer below. Alone in the Game premieres June 28 on AT&T Audience Network.

Dance Documentary “Transmission: Roots To Branches”

Chita Rivera (L) and Graciela Danielle (R)

Featuring a virtual ‘who’s who’ from the world of dance including Chita Rivera, Graciela Danielle, Andy Blankenbuehler, Warren Carlyle, Susan Stroman and more, the dance documentary Transmission: Roots To Branches does a deep dive into the history, lineage and future progressions of Jazz Dance.

“Don’t you feel wonderful when your spirit finally meets your body, and it turns into dance?”

“It’s not easy. But anything that’s good is not easy.”

Broadway icon Chita Rivera

Featuring interviews and choreography from some of the worlds leading dance voices, Transmission aims to shine a light on Jazz Dance.

The film is still being shot and the creators are looking to raise funds for the next block of filming.

Head over to the official website for more info.

Watch the teaser below. It looks to be a fascinating film.

Documentary: “The Freedom To Marry” Now Available On Netflix

The award-winning documentary, The Freedom To Marry, is now available for viewing on Netflix.

The film is a “War Room” style feature documentary about the movement for marriage for same-sex couples, from the final frenetic months of the legal and grassroots campaign.

The Freedom to Marry has already played in 75 cities, played at dozens of film festivals, won 10 “Best Documentary” prizes, been translated into 10 languages, and has gotten rave reviews—from The Boston Globe to Entertainment Weekly.

If you haven’t seen it already, this is your chance to see the untold story of one of the most successful civil rights movements of our time.

Watch the trailer below.

Documentary: “George Michael: Freedom”

George Michael

In celebration of the reissue of the late George Michael’s iconic album, Listen Without Prejudice Vol.1, Sony Music together with Channel 4 and BBC Worldwide have commissioned George Michael: Freedom, a stunning new film, narrated by George himself.

George Michael: Freedom tells the gripping, dramatic story of the making of Listen Without Prejudice Vol 1, the court case which followed and George’s personal struggle and pain as he loses Anselmo.

You may recall George decided he would not appear on Listen Without Prejudice Vol. 1’s album cover or be available to physically promote the album beyond select interviews, but instead gave the label the David Fincher-directed “Freedom! ‘90,” which featured five of the most recognizable beauties on the planet, lip-syncing in place of George.

George succeeded in reuniting the Freedom! ’90 video’s five supermodels: Naomi Campbell, Christy Turlington, Cindy Crawford, Tatjana Patitz and Linda Evangelista.

Other contributors include world famous artists such as Stevie Wonder, Elton John, Liam Gallagher, Mary J Blige, Tony Bennett, Nile Rodgers, Kate Moss, Ricky Gervais, Jean-Paul Gaultier and James Corden.

George Michael: Freedom airs in the UK on October 16, and will premiere in the US this Saturday/October 21st at 9pm ET/PT on SHOWTIME.

Also, a remastered version of George’s amazing 1996 MTV Unplugged performance will also be available as an album for the very first time as part of the Deluxe box set, 2CD and digital editions.

The concert took place in East London on October 11, 1996 and featured George playing ten of his finest songs from the Wham!, Faith, Listen Without Prejudice Vol.1 (Freedom ’90) and more.

  Listen Without Prejudice Vol 1 will also be reissued on vinyl.

George Michael Listen Without Prejudice / MTV Unplugged Track listings:

3 CD/1 DVD LIMITED EDITION BOX

CD1 Listen Without Prejudice (Remastered)

1 Praying For Time
2 Freedom! ’90
3 They Won’t Go When I Go
4 Something To Save
5 Cowboys And Angels
6 Waiting For That Day
7 Mother’s Pride
8 Heal The Pain
9 Soul Free
10 Waiting (Reprise)

CD2 MTV Unplugged

1 Freedom! ’90
2 Fastlove
3 I Can’t Make You Love Me
4 Father Figure
5 You Have Been Loved
6 Everything She Wants
7 Strangest Thing
8 Older
9 Star People
10 Praying For Time
11 Fantasy featuring Nile Rodgers

CD3 B Sides & Rarities

1. Soul Free (Special Radio Edit)
2. Freedom! (Back To Reality Mix)
3. Freedom (Back To Reality Mix Edit)
4. Fantasy 90
5. Freedom (Edit)
6. Cowboys & Angels
7. If You Were My Woman
8. Too Funky (Edit)
9. Crazy Man Dance
10. Do You Really Want To Know
11. Happy
12. Too Funky (Extended)
13. Too Jazzy (Happy Mix)
14. Fantasy 98
15. George Michael with Paul McCartney – Heal The Pain
16. George Michael with Astrud Gilberto – Desafinado

DVD

1. The Southbank Show 1990
2. Freedom! ’90 promo
3. Praying For Time promo
4. Freedom 90 MTV 10th Anniversary

2 CD EDITION

CD1 Listen Without Prejudice (Remastered)

1 Praying For Time
2 Freedom! ’90
3 They Won’t Go When I Go
4 Something To Save
5 Cowboys And Angels
6 Waiting For That Day
7 Mother’s Pride
8 Heal The Pain
9 Soul Free
10 Waiting (Reprise)

CD2 MTV Unplugged

1 Freedom! ’90
2 Fastlove
3 I Can’t Make You Love Me
4 Father Figure
5 You Have Been Loved
6 Everything She Wants
7 Strangest Thing
8 Older
9 Star People
10 Praying For Time
11 Fantasy featuring Nile Rodgers

Listen Without Prejudice – Vinyl

SIDE A

1 Praying For Time
2 Freedom! ’90
3 They Won’t Go When I Go
4 Something To Save
5 Cowboys And Angels

SIDE B

1 Waiting for That Day
2 Mothers Pride
3 Heal The Pain
4 Soul Free
5 Waiting (Reprise)

First Look At “George Michael: Freedom”

Billboard writes:

George Michael: Freedom will cover the singer’s entire career, but will focus particularly on the tumultuous period leading up to and following the release of his sophomore album, Listen Without Prejudice Vol. 1. Michael felt huge pressure to match the stratospheric success of his 1987 solo debut, Faith, which eventually earned a diamond certification in the United States and produced six top 5 hits on the Billboard Hot 100. Listen Without Prejudice underperformed, peaking at No. 2 on the Billboard 200 and barely selling 2 million copies in the United States, which led Michael to sue Sony Music for allegedly failing to promote his album adequately.

Filmed before Michael’s untimely death on Dec. 25, 2016, the documentary features narration from the pop star and gives viewers a look into his personal life, including the death of his partner Anselmo Feleppa. It also includes archival and private home footage from his reclusive period in the early 1990s, just a few years after becoming one of the biggest artists in the world.

The film includes interviews with his famous friends – Sir Elton John, Stevie Wonder, Cindy Crawford, Ricky Gervais, and more.

Premieres Saturday, October 21st at 9pm ET/PT on SHOWTIME.