Los Angeles, Jan 29 (AP/UNB) — Michael Jackson's family members said Monday that they are "furious" that two men who accuse him of sexually abusing them as boys have received renewed attention because of a new documentary about them.
The family released a statement denouncing "Leaving Neverland," a documentary film featuring Jackson accusers Wade Robson and James Safechuck that premiered last week at the Sundance Film Festival and is set to air in the spring on HBO and the U.K.'s Channel 4.
"Michael always turned the other cheek, and we have always turned the other cheek when people have gone after members of our family — that is the Jackson way," the statement said. "But we can't just stand by while this public lynching goes on.... Michael is not here to defend himself, otherwise these allegations would not have been made."
The family points out that Jackson was subjected to a thorough investigation that included a surprise raid of his home, the Neverland Ranch, but was still acquitted at his criminal trial in 2005, in a case involving another young man.
Robson testified at that trial, saying he had slept in Jackson's room many times, but that Jackson had never molested him. Safechuck made similar statements to investigators as a boy. Jackson died in 2009.
Both men filed lawsuits in 2013 saying stress and trauma had forced them to face the truth and admit they were sexually abused. The suits have been thrown out on technical grounds but are under appeal.
The Jackson statement calls the men "perjurers" because of this reversal, saying the family is "furious" that media outlets without evidence have chosen "to believe the word of two admitted liars over the word of hundreds of families and friends around the world who spent time with Michael."
"Leaving Neverland" director Dan Reed said in a statement Monday that the film focuses only on the two men and their families because he felt "no need to include the opinions of people with no direct knowledge of what happened" to them.
"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," Reed said.
Reed has said previously he has no doubts about the validity of the men's claims.
The Associated Press does not typically identify people who say they are victims of sexual assault unless they come forward publicly, which Robson and Safechuck have done on multiple occasions.
The family insists that truth and evidence are on their side.
"We are proud of what Michael Jackson stands for," the statement said.
Park City, Jan 27 (AP/UNB) —Michael Jackson's estate is blasting a documentary that tells the stories of two men who accuse Michael Jackson of sexually molesting them when they were young boys, calling the film "tabloid character assassination."
A statement released by Jackson's estate late Friday calls the men, Wade Robson and James Safechuck, "two perjurers" — a reference to sworn statements the men gave when Jackson was alive that he had not abused them. The men leveled their abuse allegations after Jackson's death.
The pair's stories are the basis for "Leaving Neverland," a four-hour documentary that will air later this year on HBO and Channel 4 in Britain. It earned a somber standing ovation after its premiere at Sundance on Friday.
The estate accuses the film of focusing too much on Robson and Safechuck and ignoring others who spent significant time with Jackson and "stated that he treated children with respect and did nothing hurtful to them."
Michael Jackson accusers Wade Robson and James Safechuck have been greeted with a solemn standing ovation by a theater full of people at the Sundance Film Festival.
The stories of the two men who allege Jackson sexually abused them as children are detailed in the documentary "Leaving Neverland," which had its only screening Friday at the film festival.
In a Q&A, Robson said it has been an incredible experience being able to talk to Safechuck after feeling isolated for so long. Safechuck added that they were not offered any money to participate in the documentary, which will air on Britain's Channel 4 and HBO this spring.
The Jackson estate denounced the documentary for rehashing "discredited allegations." Jackson was acquitted of molestation charges in 2005.
Paris, Jan 27 (AP/UNB) — Oscar-winning composer and pianist Michel Legrand, whose hits included the score for the '60s romance "The Umbrellas of Cherbourg" and the song "The Windmills of Your Mind" and who worked with some of biggest singers of the 20th century, has died at age 86.
Legrand last performed on stage just last month, and was still composing and practicing piano an hour a day even as fatigue increasingly forced him to economize his energy, said Claire de Castellane, a musician and producer who organized a series of recent solo piano concerts by Legrand. De Castellane confirmed his death Saturday, without providing details.
"MICHEL LEGRAND Feb. 24, 1932-Jan. 26, 2019," read the home page of his official website Saturday, followed by photographs of Legrand with Barbara Streisand, Miles Davis, Yves Montand and others. Tributes poured in on Twitter and Facebook, and French radio and television replayed songs from his vast repertoire.
French President Emmanuel Macron announced condolences to Legrand's wife and children, hailing him as an "indefatigable genius." ''His unique tunes that run through our heads and are hummed in the streets have become like the soundtracks of our lives," he said.
Legrand won three Academy Awards, five Grammys and two top awards at the Cannes Film Festival among other honors, according to his official website. He worked with famed lyricists in Hollywood and on Broadway — including Alan and Marilyn Bergman and Sheldon Harnick — as well as with French New Wave directors.
"The Windmills of Your Mind" won him his first Oscar, as the theme song for 1968's "The Thomas Crown Affair," sung by Noel Harrison. The song was later recorded by Dusty Springfield and many others. His songs marked some of the most memorable musical moments in French cinema, including 1964's "The Umbrellas of Cherbourg" with Catherine Deneuve and "The Young Ladies of Rochefort."
Over a six-decade career he worked with performers ranging from Frank Sinatra to Aretha Franklin and Sting, and played an outsized role on the French musical scene. He continued touring into his 80s, last performing a month ago at the Paris Philharmonic, and was scheduled to give his next concert in February.
Though he had rich and rigorous musical education, Legrand sought to reach ordinary people. "He wrote very elaborate music, but for a regular audience," de Castellane said.
Performing right up until the end "was a very beautiful way to say goodbye," de Castellane said. "He was not afraid of death, he talked about it. He said it made him nervous" — like the nervousness performers feel before going on stage — "but it didn't frighten him."
Wellington, Jan 24 (AP/UNB) — Singaporean actor Aloysius Pang died Thursday from injuries he sustained during a military training exercise in New Zealand. He was 28.
Pang was injured in his chest and abdomen when the gun barrel was lowered on a large artillery device he was helping repair Saturday. Singapore's defense ministry said in a statement that Pang had been put on life support following surgeries to repair his damaged organs but died at Waikato Hospital.
Also known as Pang Wei Chong, the actor was known for the movie "Young & Fabulous" (2016) as well as television series that include "The Truth Seekers" (2016) and "C.L.I.F." (2011).
Singapore mandates young men serve in its armed forces, police force or civil defense force. Most serve full-time for two years, and then have annual training obligations. Pang had completed his full-time service, and was an armament technician whose rank was corporal first class.
Before leaving for New Zealand, Pang wrote on Twitter that "Unfortunately, my 2019 will start off with me flying to New Zealand for 3 weeks due to reservist. I'll be back in action soon."
The military said it would convene an independent committee of inquiry to investigate the circumstances leading up to Pang being injured.
He had been working on a Singapore Self-Propelled Howitzer, a motorized piece of artillery that looks similar to a small tank. The live-firing training exercise took place at the Waiouru training area on New Zealand's North Island and is hosted by New Zealand's military each year.
Pang's Singapore agency NoonTalk Media posted a photo of the actor on Facebook and wrote "Dear Aloysius, you'll be missed."
Other actors also paid tribute. Shane Pow Xunping wrote on Instagram: "It is not enough for you to be a brother in this life. We will continue to be brothers in the next life. I love you."
Dhaka, Jan 23 (UNB) – Ekushey Padak-winning lyricist, composer and music director Ahmed Imtiaz Bulbul who passed away early Tuesday was laid to eternal rest here on Wednesday night.
He was buried at the Martyred Intellectuals' Graveyard in Mirpur around 8:30pm following two namaz-e-janazas.
His first janaza was held at Dhaka University mosque after Zohr prayers while the second one on the Bangladesh Film Development Corporation premises after Asr prayers.
Earlier in the morning, his body was taken to the Central Shaheed Minar where people from all walks of life paid their last tributes to the renowned lyricist, composer and music director.
The body was kept there from around 11am to around 12:30 pm. Bulbul, also a freedom fighter, was given a guard of honour there.
A delegation on behalf of President M Abdul Hamid placed a wreath at his coffin while cultural personality and former minister Asaduzzaman Noor, state minister for cultural affairs KM Khalid paid homage to Imtiaz Bulbul.
Awami League leader Mahbubul Alam Hanif on behalf of the ruling party placed a wreath on the coffin of the noted lyricist.
Bulbul was taken to Ayesha Memorial Hospital at Mohakhali after he suffered a heart attack around 4am on Tuesday. However, doctors at the hospital declared him dead. He was 63.
Bulbul won a number of awards, including Ekushey Padak, National Film Award and the President Award.
He took part in the Liberation War at the age of 15. He started his career as a music director in the film ‘Megh Bijli Badol’. He released music album independently and directed numerous songs for films.
Bulbul won the ‘National Film Award’ as music director for ‘Premer Tajmahal’ and ‘Hazar Bosor Dhore’ films.
His famous works include ‘Shobkota Janala Khule Dao Na’, ‘O Majhi Nao Chaira De’, ‘Shei Railiner Dhare’, ‘Sundar Suborn Tarunno Labonnyo’, ‘Amar Sara Deho Kheo O Go Mati’, ‘Amar Babar Mukhe Prothom Jedin’ and many others.