×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

‘Surviving R. Kelly’ Documentary Screening Evacuated Over Gun Threat

UPDATED: A New York City screening for Lifetime’s upcoming documentary series “Surviving R. Kelly” was evacuated over a gun threat on Tuesday evening. A Lifetime rep tells Variety the event was evacuated as a precaution after the venue received two anonymous calls.

Present at the screening and conversation, held at NeueHouse Madison Square in the Gramercy area of Manhattan, were #MeToo founder Tarana Burke, along with seven R. Kelly accusers: his ex-wife, Drea Kelly, Kitti Jones, Asante Jones, Faith Rodgers, Lizzette Martinez, Lisa Van Allen and Jerhonda Pace. All of the women spoke out in the documentary, and were set to share their stories on a panel at the Tuesday night event.

The event began with a screening at 7:00 p.m., which was planned to be followed by an 8:30 p.m. panel discussion and then a reception. Roughly 15 minutes after the screening began, two anonymous, threatening calls were made into the venue with the caller stating that someone had a gun in the theater. The calls were routed to the NYPD who suggested evacuating the theater.

“It was very painful for the survivors that they were not able to share their stories,” a source tells Variety.

“At tonight’s premiere of Lifetime’s documentary series ‘Surviving R. Kelly’ at NeueHouse Madison Square, several anonymous threats were called in. As a precaution, the network elected to evacuate the building. The safety and security of our panel, guests and staff is of paramount importance to Lifetime,” the network said in a statement.

The venue also issued a statement: “NeueHouse has always existed to celebrate creatives, entrepreneurs and activists with important and meaningful stories to share. The safety of our storytellers and of our members is always our first priority. Tonight was no different. Despite non-credible threats called in during tonight’s screening, we followed appropriate safety protocols in collaboration with the NYPD and elected to postpone the event. We stand by the creative women bringing these heroic stories to light.”

Burke, who appears in the documentary series and was a panelist at the Tuesday night event, tweeted about the evacuation, writing that the gun threat “didn’t appear to be credible,” suggesting the threat was in order to silence the women, moments before they were about to speak up against Kelly on the panel. On Instagram, Burke wrote “I am unnerved. I can’t believe these intimidation tactics. But we will prevail.” She included the hashtag #MuteRKelly.

“Surviving R. Kelly” is a six-part, three-night documentary series that puts a spotlight on accusers of R. Kelly, the Grammy-winning R&B singer, who has been accused by multiple women of sexual misconduct and abuse. Earlier this year, the #TimesUp movement backed a protest of Kelly. In 2017, the musician was accused by three sets of parents of holding their daughters in an abusive cult, though Kelly has denied the allegations. Two of the families who are trying to get their girls back — Angelo Clary, JonJelyn and Timothy Savage — were in attendance at the Tuesday evening screening.

The Lifetime series, which premieres on Jan. 3, brings together alleged victims of Kelly, who are described by the cable network as “survivors,” to share their allegations of his sexual, mental and physical abuse. The project features more than 50 interviews with accusers and public figures including Burke, John Legend and Wendy Williams.

A rep for Kelly did not immediately respond to Variety‘s request for comment.

More TV

  • R. Kelly

    R. Kelly Accusers Detail Abuse, Reveal Evidence on 'Dateline'

    The continuing controversy surrounding R. Kelly, including allegations of sexual abuse by a number of women over three decades, was the focus of Friday’s episode of “Dateline.” Speaking to accusers Sparkle, Jerhonda Pace and parents Tim and Jonjelyn Savage, among others, NBC’s Andrea Canning heard more harrowing tales of abduction and sexual misconduct on the part [...]

  • Kenan Thompson

    NBC Orders Comedy Pilots 'Saving Kenan' and 'Like Magic'

    NBC has ordered comedies “Saving Kenan” and “Like Magic” to pilot. “Saving Kenan” is a single-camera comedy starring “Saturday Night Live” veteran Kenan Thompson as a “newly widowed dad determined to be everything for his kids while begrudgingly letting his persistent father-in-law become more involved in their lives.” Jackie Clarke will serve as writer and [...]

  • The First -- "The Choice" -

    'The First' Canceled at Hulu After One Season

    Hulu has grounded the space exploration drama “The First” after one season, Variety has confirmed. The series hailed from Beau Willimon and starred Sean Penn and Natascha McElhone in Penn’s first regular television role. “The First” was set in the near future and followed the first human mission to Mars. Hulu gave the show a straight-to-series order in [...]

  • Nicole Maines Supergirl Trans Hollywood Portrait

    TV Roundup: 'Supergirl' Drops First Look at Nicole Maines as TV's First Trans Superhero

    In today’s TV News Roundup, The CW releases a first look at Nicole Maines on “Supergirl” and Variety unveils an exclusive look at Gabriel Iglesias’ new comedy special.  FIRST LOOKS truTV has released the first trailer for season 2 of Emmy-nominated series “At Home with Amy Sedaris.” The variety sketch comedy returns Tuesday, Feb. 19 at [...]

  • The Beatles Eight Days a Week

    Imagine's Documentary Arm Sets First-Look Pact With Apple (EXCLUSIVE)

    Brian Grazer and Ron Howard’s Imagine Documentaries has set a first-look pact with Apple to develop non-fiction features and series. The deal comes as Imagine is investing heavily in the premium non-fiction arena. The company in June recruited RadicalMedia veteran Justin Wilkes to head Imagine Documentaries as president. The deal suggests that Apple sees docu [...]

  • Fyre Festival Documentaries: The 10 Most

    Fyre Festival Documentaries: The 10 Most Outrageous Moments

    It is perhaps only fitting that two documentaries about the disastrous Fyre Festival, one of the most high-profile fraudulent failures in history, would arrive during the same week — a fitting cap on a tragicomedy of errors that, as both films outline in excruciating detail, unfolded like a slow-motion plane crash in the spring of [...]

  • Walt Disney HQ LA

    Disney Unveils Financial Data for DTC Unit, Sets April 11 for Investor Presentation

    Disney has rejiggered its business segments for earnings reporting to make room for the new unit housing its global streaming operations. Disney on Friday released restated earnings for fiscal 2018, 2017 and 2016 to give investors and financial analysts better visibility into its spending on the launch of the Disney Plus, ESPN Plus and other [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content