Why Is Everyone Talking About Michael Jackson and ‘Leaving Neverland’?

By: Elizabeth Padilla

Michael Jackson can be considered the most famous entertainer of the 20th century. When he died in June 2009, it was a tragedy for many and national conversations around the multiple allegations of child molestation against him died along with him. The focus instead shifted to his planned ‘This Is It’ comeback concerts, his unreleased songs, and a musical legacy that includes hundreds of millions of albums sold.

But on January 25, the Sundance Film Festival debuted the four-hour documentary “Leaving Neverland,” which includes detailed accusations of abuse, reopening the discussion on one of the most notorious scandals in music history. The accusations revolve around Jacksons known private home and amusement park, Neverland Ranch.

The documentary focuses on two men, Wade Robson and James Safechuck, who claim, in separate accounts, that Jackson sexually abused them for years, from boyhood into adolescence. Wade Robson, a choreographer who has worked with Britney Spears, was “discovered” by Jackson at the age of 7 where the boy had been performing with a kids dance troupe. James Safechuck, a computer programmer, was in Los Angeles on the set of the beloved Pepsi commercial exploring Jackson’s backstage dressing room at the age of 9. Robson and Safechuck (who appeared alongside Jackson in a memorable 1987 Pepsi commercial) described many sexual allegations throughout the documentary. Robson, who says Jackson nicknamed him “Little One,” describes one of the singer’s methods from keeping him from speaking out was the constant reminder from Jackson that if they were caught there would be consequences for the both of them. Safechuck talks about a secret “wedding” he had with Jackson, and the ring he still has in his possession, saying Jackson gave him jewelry in exchange for sexual favors.

Robson’s mother, Joy, tells how that first encounter with Jackson felt supernatural and wonderful—something that could positively transform her son’s life. Joy describes the second linkup as a brush with “the impossible. You don’t just come to America and start calling some numbers and get in contact with Michael Jackson somehow, and then you’re going to see him again. That was just not a normal scenario.” Says Joy, “It was surreal for all of us. Hollywood and this whole entertainment business was on another planet from where we were.” So when Jackson invited Robson and his older sister, Chantal, to sleep in his quarters, Joy says she didn’t think much of it, or of when Jackson offered to let Robson stay with him for a week while the Robson family visited the Grand Canyon. To say no would mean bringing real-world logic into a dream that had come true, thus ending the dream. Robson says that the “trippy part” was that even though Jackson was a stranger, “it felt like we knew him: He’d been in my living room every day,” via TV, posters, and music. For a child to want a slumber party with him was like wanting a slumber party with Mickey Mouse. But, when the first allegations of child molestation broke Joy immediately confronted her son. Robson insisted then that Jackson had never inappropriately touched him.

Both men supported Jackson during a 2005 trial for molestation and denied he had abused them. However, Robson and Safechuck both sued Jackson’s estate after the star’s death. Robson said Jackson molested him for seven years, and Safechuck said he and Jackson engaged in sexual acts “hundreds” of times. Both cases were dismissed and are under appeal.

Following the four-hour documentary “Leaving Neverland,” Robson and Safechuck were interviewed by Oprah Winfrey where Robson admitted only when he had a son that he felt free of his need to protect Jackson. “I loved him, and I wanted to protect him. In my mind, up until whatever it was, six years ago or so, I was going to take what truly happened to my grave,” he said, “No question that was the way it was.” Robson said that if his son hadn’t been born, there was a “really good chance” he would still “be living in silence.”

To Jackson and his family, Neverland Ranch was not only a home it was an amusement park to them. The Jackson family responded by releasing a statement that called the documentary a “public lynching.” “We are furious that the media, who without a shred of proof or single piece of physical evidence, chose 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, many at Neverland, and experienced his legendary kindness and global generosity,” the statement reads. “The creators of this film were not interested in the truth. They never interviewed a single solitary soul who knew Michael except the two perjurers and their families.”

Jackson faced accusations similar to these in 1993, the family of a 13-year-old boy filed a $30 million lawsuit saying Jackson sexually abused their son, which included kissing, fondling and other sexual acts. The suit was settled out of court in 1994 for around $23 million. Another accusation surfaced of a cancer survivor who appeared by Jackson’s side in the Martin Bashir television documentary “Living With Michael Jackson” at the age of 14 when authorities formally charged Jackson with molesting him. During the 14-week criminal trial in 2005, the boy’s younger brother said that Jackson showed them pornography, served them alcohol and molested his brother on two occasions. Jackson was found not guilty.

The documentary has lead Michael Jackson’s estates to sue HBO for more than $100 million over the accusations of Jackson abusing the two men when they were children. In the lawsuit filed in Los Angeles, the singer’s estate argues that the film violates a 1992 contract to broadcast a Jackson concert which included an agreement to not disparage the singer at any future point in time. “It is hard to imagine a more direct violation of the non-disparagement clause,” says the suit, which asks the court to order arbitration and says damages could exceed $100 million.

At the end of the day the only people with knowledge surrounding what took place in the Neverland rooms are the host and his guests. More than one of them now claims to have been groomed, abused, manipulated, and coached by Jackson. That matters as much as the moonwalk. That might make “Heal the World” a lie and the “Man in the Mirror” a monster. One had to overlook numerous accusations and testimonies to continue to maintain an idolized belief in the image of purity and wholesomeness Jackson presented us in his career. As the tenth anniversary of Jackson’s death approaches, it’s okay to revisit the memory of Jackson as we thought he was, but let’s also speak of all the aspects of his life we categorically refused to believe, and pledge to never again choose the love of fame over the well-being of a child.


Jackson and Wade Robson in a still from “Leaving Neverland.” Robson grew up to become a choreographer for Britney Spears and Cirque du Soleil.


Michael Jackson, left, and James Safechuck on a plane in 1988. In the HBO documentary “Leaving Neverland,” Safechuck accuses Jackson of sexually abusing him when he was a child.

Gone, but Never Forgotten

By Elizabeth Mendoza

On March 4th, 2019, actor Luke Perry, known from his 1990s television series 90210,Perry, winning a Bravo Otto Award for Best Male TV Star in 1993, as well as 1994,  and CW series Riverdale, passed away due to a massive stroke in his home in Sherman Oaks. The actor was quickly hospitalized but did not show signs of getting better. Due to respect for his family, not much has been said about the actor besides the cause of death. A publicist by the name of Arnold Robinson told CNN “The family appreciates the outpouring of support and prayers that have been extended to Luke from around the world, and respectfully request privacy in this time of great mourning”. Perry’s death broke the hearts of many fans who are sending their love towards the actor’s family through social media. Riverdale co-stars also took to social media to honor the actor and share how much he will be missed. Actress Lili Reinhart, Perry’s Riverdale co-star, posted on her Instagram story saying, “I can barely find the words. I am devastated. We all are.” Actor Kj Apa, who plays Perry’s son in Riverdale, also shared a photo of the actor with the caption “Rest in Love bro”. Various friends and co-stars shared their feelings on the passing of Perry. May his family heal from the loss and may Perry rest peacefully.

iCarly Star Jennette McCurdy Opens Up About Eating Disorder

By: Melody Aviles

Former Nickelodeon Star, Jennette McCurdy, who played “Sam” in the show “iCarly”, has recently opened up about her 13-year struggle battling anorexia, bulimia, and disordered eating. In a personal essay, McCurdy explains in detail how she battled these disorders for 13 years and has been in recovery for the past two, revealing that her eating disorder began when she was only 11 years old. McCurdy states that her mother was also a prominent figure of her struggle as she encouraged her anorexia and eating disorders even more. In her essay, she recalls, “As a child actress working in Hollywood, I quickly learned that remaining physically small for my age meant I had a better chance of booking more roles. Unfortunately, I had a trusty and dedicated companion ready to help me with my burgeoning anorexia: my mom!” McCurdy explains that although her mom encouraged it, she doesn’t hold it against her. She also shares how her mom would compare her body to those of other girls, portion out her meals, and count her calories. McCurdy points out that growing up she always believed her mom was “looking out” for her, but she didn’t realize she was only “aiding my disordered eating”. The iCarly star revealed that her mother was hospitalized for anorexia on several occasions when she was a teenager and still isn’t convinced she ever fully overcame it. After she booked iCarly, McCurdy became more obsessed with her appearance and would monitor every bite, exercise obsessively, and measure her thighs with measuring tape every night. The actor then turned to binge eating when her mother was diagnosed with cancer for a second time and, by the age of 21, turned to bulimia. All of these disorders were unintentionally fueled by those on set as they told her how great she looked. It wasn’t until her sister-in-law confronted her about her disorders and suggested that she get help. McCurdy explains that “recovery was brutal” but it has now been two years and she is doing well and moving forward. However, she admits that she still gets eating disorder urges, compulsions, and fantasies, but now she can fight and ignore it. Jennette McCurdy’s journey with eating disorders was tough as she explains, but she pushed herself and was able to get through it.

The Jonas Brothers are Finally Back

By Jennifer De La Torre

The pop-rock band of brothers named Nick, Joe and Kevin Jonas started their career in 2005 after recording the song, “Please Be Mine.” Then Columbia Records president Steve Greenberg heard the song and decided to sign the band.

From there, Colombia Records opened for a multitude of artists that included Jump5, Kelly Clarkson, Jesse McCartney, and the Backstreet Boys. Their debut album, “It’s About Time,” was released on Aug. 8, 2006, and featured the hit, “Year 3000.” Most fans would be interested to learn, “Year 3000,” is not a song written by the Jonas Brothers and is originally by the English band Busted.  The band was dropped by Columbia Records in early 2007, but the story doesn’t end there.

The plethora of hits we all know started in 2007 after the band signed with Hollywood Records, a music label connected to the Disney Music Group. These songs include: “Hold On,” “S.O.S,” “When You Look Me In The Eyes,” “Burnin’ Up,” “Lovebug,” “Paranoid” and “Tonight.” Their discography speaks for itself, they’ve been in the music game for a long time.

Music wasn’t the only thing the brothers dabbled in as they are also recognizable from Disney Channel original programming. They graced television screens in the films “Camp Rock” and “Camp Rock: The Final Jam,” and in the “JONAS L.A.” television series which had them portraying the Lucas brothers who were all members of the band Jonas. No surprise here: they delivered hit songs like “Play My Music” and “Keep It Real,” even while acting on screen.

The point here is simple: The Jonas Brothers have painted quite a legacy for themselves and it was about time they came back to give us more. Their reunion comes at the perfect time in our current culture because nostalgia is thriving. If you’re the friend who starts playing the Jonas Brothers, ‘NSYNC or One Direction, your friends will love you.

Their new hit single “Sucker,” which is reminiscent of the 2008 track “Lovebug” which tells of the attraction one has to someone and how they’ve got it bad. The Jonas Brothers are iconically known for their love songs but the similarity between these two tracks are striking. It’s a good sign to diehard fans that things won’t change much with more new music on the way.

During the height of their popularity, the Jonas Brothers were well known for wearing purity rings. The rings are largely associated with a vow by those who wear them to remain abstinent until marriage. The rings created a wholesome look for the band but flashforward six years later and things have changed.

Kevin married long-time love Danielle Deleasa in 2009, and the couple have two daughters named Alena and Valentina. Nick married Indian actress Priyanka Chopra on December in a lavish Indian-Western fusion wedding that lasted several days and Joe is engaged to English actress Sophie Turner with plans to wed this summer. Their leading ladies were heavily featured in the “Sucker” music video which appeared like a more mature and colorful version of the video for their single “Burnin’ Up.”

It may only be March but it’s a good sign that a favorite has returned to delight our ears with new music.

Katy Perry and Orlando Bloom Get Engaged on Valentine’s Day

By: Melody Aviles

Katy Perry and Orlando Bloom won Valentine’s Day 2019 as they got engaged publicly. The couple started dating in 2016, broke up in 2017, and got back together on April of last year 2018. Katy Perry shared the news on Instagram on February 15, 2019 through a picture of a beautiful ruby and diamond ring with red heart-shaped balloons in the background. Orlando shared the same picture on his Instagram with a different caption making it clear that they were engaged. Katy Perry’s mom also shared many pictures of their engagement on her Facebook, even posting a close-up picture of the ring. The engagement ring is said to be worth $5 million dollars. Although the ring was absolutely stunning, many people were making comments about how the ring was very similar to the one Orlando Bloom proposed to his ex-wife Miranda Kerr with in 2010; Both similarly shaped flower rings, except for the colors which were very different. Many people found this a bit awkward, but Katy Perry seemed to love her $5 million dollar engagement ring. The couple was very happy as they announced their engagement to the world and fans were also very supportive and had many positive reactions towards this beautiful announcement.

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Not Enough Proof

By Elizabeth Mendoza

On January 29, 2019, actor Jussie Smollett, best known for his role as Jamal Lyon in the American drama series Empire, was allegedly a victim of a racist and homophobic attack. Many were upset by this incident, accusations of it being staged surfaced. Law enforcement have questioned two suspects but, were soon proven innocent. Smollett, at first, wasn’t happy with the fact that some people believe he planned the attack on himself and has denied all rumors when asked about it. However, Law enforcement was quoted by CNN claiming that the actor hired two men to organize an assault on Smollett. The actor’s lawyer has said that he feels double-crossed by the fact that these claims have been made on him. Police continued to find more evidence such as the video of the incident and are planning to speak with the actor once more. A jury was said to be hearing the case, but the actor ended up turning himself in at central booking. He was charged with felony disorderly conduct due to filing a false police report. The judge who held the case set a bond of $100,000. At the hearing, the actor remained quiet while his attorney suggested he be released due to his career and reputation. The judge believed the statement was inappropriate. Smollett was released after paying the bond.

Joy Villa Wears ‘BUILD THE WALL’ Dress to 2019 Grammys

Elizabeth Padilla

Conservative artist Joy Villa has done it again.

The singer showed up to this year’s red carpet in Los Angeles wearing a dress tailored to look like President’s Trump planned border wall, making this Villa’s third year in a row making a political statement at the Grammy Awards.

The gown featured a design of white bricks and black mortar, similar to the cover art for Pink Floyd’s 1979 album “The Wall.” Resting on Villa’s shoulders was a ring of barbed wire, alongside a steel crown on her head. On her back read the message “Build the wall” in red letters. Villa also carried a red “Make America Great Again” purse. She told the Hollywood Reporter the dress was designed by Desi Allinger of Desi Designs.

Villa responded to the backlash she was receiving on social media through an Instagram post, which read ‘Shut up!’ They said. ‘Stop talking politics!’ They yelled. ‘Sit down you don’t matter!’ They insisted. I don’t listen to haters. I listen to truth. Building the wall will cut down crime, protect children from being trafficked, and stop the 1 in 3 women from being sexually assaulted trying to get through illegally. It’s a humanitarian crisis. I support life. I support protection. I SUPPORT [THE WALL]!”

This isn’t Villa’s first-time turning heads.

In 2017, she wore a “Make America Great Again dress.”

Last year, she wore a dress with a fetus depicted on it and a bag that reads “CHOOSE LIFE.”

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Accused Once Again

 

By Elizabeth Mendoza

Recently, singer Chris Brown was released from police custody after being accused of rape and drug violations in Paris.No details are being released about the ongoing investigation by the U.S Embassy in Paris other than the fact that charges against Brown and two other have not been made. The singer then took to Instagram, denying all accusations made against him. In his post he wrote, “I wanna make it perfectly clear…This is false and a whole lot of CAP!” Not many people believe Brown due to his many encounters with the law.

     Back in 2009, Brown was charged with physical assault against then-girlfriend, Rihanna. Along with those charges, he has also been charged with felony assault. Before the incident in Paris, he was arrested after a concert in Florida for an accusation made against him claiming he punched a man, who may have been a paparazzi. Sources say the paparazzi photographed Brown without authorization. With all his run-ins with the law, it is hard for people to see the singer as a good-hearted person. His past gives them many reasons to.

Fewer Sweethearts for Sweethearts

By Elizabeth Padilla

Valentine’s Day will be a little less sweet this year without its most popular candy, Sweethearts.

Sweethearts, the heart shaped candies inscribed with messages like “Be Mine” and “Crazy 4 U”, won’t be on the shelves this season.

New England Confectionery Company, otherwise known as Necoo, made the conversation hearts, a staple of Valentine’s Day gifts for decades. However, Necco abruptly shut down in July after an investment firm bought it from a bankruptcy auction. It got new life when it was subsequently bought by Spangler Candy Co. in September, but by then, it was too late to restart production and distribution in time for Valentine’s Day.

However, Clair Robins, a spokeswoman for Candystore.com, says all might not be lost. While the owners of Sweethearts may not be selling them this year, Robins noted that the Illinois-based confectioner makes a similar line of conversation heart candies (though the company’s recent Twitter mentions indicate that not everyone is satisfied with the alternative).

For those who are Sweethearts loyalists or “love the flavor and ethos of the brand,” Robins said they could try to hunt down some of last year’s stock online. That said, depending on the storage, the candy could expire or degrade, she noted. Alternatively, they could just wait until 2020.

 

Kylie Jenner Has Lost Title of Most Liked Instagram Picture of All Time to an Egg

By Elizabeth Padilla

    The picture that Kylie Jenner posted last February announcing her daughter’s name, Stormi Webster,had held the record for most liked picture on Instagram until the Instagram account @World_Record_Egg changed that.

    @World_Record_Egg published the photo of an egg on January 4, 2019 with the intent of breaking the world record of the most liked Instgram picture. To let others, know that the account intended to break a record, they wrote “Let’s set a world record together and get the most liked post on Instagram. Beating the current world record held by Kylie Jenner (18 million)! We got this,” on the accounts bio.

    By Sunday morning, the picture of the egg had reached around 9 million likes, within the next 10 hours, the amount of likes on the picture had doubled, breaking Kylie Jenner’s record. After the picture went viral on Sunday, it began to receive around one million likes per hour.

   Kylie Jenner has responded to picture of the egg who broke the record for most liked Instgram by sharing a video of her smashing an egg on the road.

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