A private screening of an R. Kelly documentary series was abruptly canceled and evacuated in New York due to “several anonymous threats” during the event.
An anonymous male caller claimed that if the film, Surviving R. Kelly, continued to play that somebody in the theater would start shooting.
While the threats made to the NeueHouse Madison Square venue were not deemed credible, the theater was evacuated as a precaution.
“At tonight’s premiere of Lifetime’s documentary series Surviving R. Kelly at NeueHouse Madison Square, several anonymous threats were called in,” Lifetime said in a statement obtained by EW. “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.”
Surviving R. Kelly is a six-part series that Lifetime describes as an investigation into the controversial 51-year-old Chicago R&B singer. The show is said to reveal new allegations of sexual, mental and physical abuse committed by Kelly, who has long denied reports of wrongdoing.
“Calling in a noncredible threat to the NYPD to interrupt our screening is an act of desperation from people who don’t want these truths shared with the world,” the show’s showrunner Dream Hampton told CNN. “The survivors who bravely sat with me for this docuseries know all too well what R. Kelly is capable of, every one of them has stories of being abused and controlled by him.”
While Kitti Jones, who last year accused Kelly of physical abuse and sexual coercion, told Rolling Stone: “This just speaks to how much power there is in numbers, that someone felt the need to threaten the event. But we won’t be intimidated or silenced and we hope this brings even more attention to the legitimacy of our stories and how important this documentary is to the movement.”
EW has reached out to Lifetime for comment.
Surviving R. Kelly airs Friday, Jan. 3.