‘Michael Jackson: Searching for Neverland’ Actors Respond to Jackson Family’s Criticism

The actors starring in Michael Jackson: Searching for Neverland have responded to the Jackson family’s criticism of the upcoming Lifetime movie. (Watch the trailer above.)

The made-for-TV movie is based on the book Remembering the Time: Protecting Michael Jackson in His Final Days, written by the late superstar’s bodyguards Bill Whitfield and Javon Beard. The biopic stars Navi, a well-known Jackson impersonator, as the musician, alongside Chad L. Coleman as Whitfield and Sam Adegoke as Beard.

Navi stars in Michael Jackson: Searching for Neverland, premiering Monday, May 29 at 8pm ET/PT on Lifetime.
Navi stars in Michael Jackson: Searching for Neverland, premiering Monday, May 29 at 8pm ET/PT on Lifetime. Courtesy of Deadra Bryant/Lifetime

Navi told CBS News that he wishes the film had the family’s blessing. “Is it important to me? Of course, because I wouldn’t like to hear that someone didn’t support the project,” he said in the article published Wednesday, May 24. “But I didn’t do this project from a business point of view. I do this project from my heart, from a Michael Jackson fan’s point of view. So it doesn’t matter which company and businesses and associates, whatever, do or don’t support us. Fans want it told.”

Coleman, 42, also defended the project, saying that Michael Jackson: Searching for Neverland depicts the King of Pop’s everyday life. “At the end of the day, Bill Whitfield had a personal experience with Javon Beard,” he told CBS News. “And it is with integrity and character, so there’s nothing salacious here. You know, the men had so many people turn the book down because they said Michael appeared too normal. But that’s what we’re going for. We’re trying to show you the man.”

Michael Jackson alongside Navi
Michael Jackson alongside Navi Showtime International Ltd.

The “Thriller” singer’s estate issued a statement on Monday, May 22, denouncing the movie as well as a Netflix project about Jackson’s life. “To clear up any confusion or misperceptions about unsanctioned Michael Jackson projects currently in the news — including a Lifetime television movie and an animated film script recently purchased by Netflix — the Estate of Michael Jackson does not license or permit the use of any rights it owns, including to Michael’s music, images, video and films, for use in unauthorized works seeking to exploit Michael’s legacy,” the statement read, via Billboard.

Jackson died of cardiac arrest at age 50 in June 2009. He was survived by his three children: Prince, 20, Paris, 18, and Blanket, 15.

Michael Jackson: Searching for Neverland premieres on Lifetime Monday, May 29, at 8 p.m. ET.

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