American Music Awards

Jackson Steamed Over TV Documentary

Pop icon Michael Jackson has lashed out at a "tawdry" documentary he helped make for British television, denying he would ever abuse children.

Pop icon Michael Jackson has lashed out at a "tawdry" documentary he helped make for British television, denying he would ever abuse children. The "Living with Michael Jackson" documentary -- which aired Monday in the U.K. and will be broadcast in the U.S. tonight (Feb. 6) on ABC -- is a rare look at the singer's private life that was shot over a period of eight months. In it, Jackson admitted sharing a bed with children at his Neverland ranch.

"Today I feel more betrayed than perhaps ever before, that someone who had got to know my children, my staff and me, whom I let into my heart and told the truth, could then sacrifice the trust I placed in him and produce this terrible and unfair program," Jackson, 44, said in a statement released in London. "Everyone who knows me will know the truth, which is that my children come first in my life and that I would never harm any child."

Jackson has been dogged by controversy and rumor since 1993 when he reached a multi-million dollar settlement with a 14-year-old boy who had accused him of sexual molestation.

In the documentary, the eccentric star insisted there was nothing wrong with having children in his bedroom and vowed to kill himself if there were no kids left in the world. The bed-sharing revelations prompted a California lawyer to call for a probe into life at his fairytale ranch.

His two older children, five-year-old Prince Michael I and four-year-old Paris, appeared on film with Jackson wearing party masks. He fed his third child -- whom he has nicknamed Blanket -- with a bottle of milk while draping a veil over his head.

Granada Television, which produced the film, stood by its journalist Martin Bashir but said it was maybe "inevitable" Jackson would be upset. "It's not surprising that a film about him, which is so open and revealing, draws some hostile reaction and comment about him. It's regrettable that Michael should feel devastated as a result of that, but perhaps inevitable," it said in a statement.

The statement issued for Jackson by a PR firm in London said the star was "devastated and feels utterly betrayed." It added that Jackson regarded the program "as a gross distortion of the truth and a tawdry attempt to misrepresent his life and his abilities as a father.

"Michael feels deeply angry that the program could have led viewers to conclude that he abuses children in any way," it added. "Michael Jackson has never, and would never, treat a child inappropriately or expose them to any harm and totally refutes any suggestions to the contrary."

Jackson accused Bashir of breaking an assurance not to feature his children and of ignoring pleas to cut footage. Granada said it respected his desire not to show the children's faces but that there was no agreement not to show them at all. Jackson accused Granada of airing "a salacious ratings-chaser" and was backed up by friends and family.

"It breaks my heart that anyone could truly believe that Michael would do anything to harm or endanger our children," said ex-wife and mother of two of his children Debbie Rowe. Friend Uri Geller said fans were sending in messages of support, adding: "The people who think about the sexual connotations, they have the warped minds, not Michael."

The Jackson documentary -- made by the same journalist who coaxed a televised confession of adultery out of the late Princess Diana -- was viewed by nearly one in four Britons.


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