A Lifetime rep told Variety the event was evacuated as a precaution after the venue received two anonymous calls and there is speculation that the cable network believes Kelly himself is to blame.
The event was filled with the disgraced singer’s accusers and #MeToo supporters who were prepared to give testimony about the alleged accusations against Kelly for his ongoing abusive behavior during a Q&A session after the movie had aired. The event was held at at NeueHouse Madison Square in the Gramercy area of Manhattan. On site to attend was #MeToo founder Tarana Burke and at least seven of the women who have accused R. Kelly of sexual misconduct, including his ex-wife, Drea Kelly, Kitti Jones, Asante Jones, Faith Rodgers, Lizzette Martinez, Lisa Van Allen and Jerhonda Pace.
These women were also featured in the documentary, which will air over three nights in January with the most in-depth examination of his past and the bevy of sexual abuse claims by multiple women that have soiled the disgraced R&B singer’s reputation.
The bomb threat rocked attendees, and as a precaution, event organizers shut the screening down.
“So…Y’ALL ARE NOT GOING TO BELIEVE THIS! Tonight was a private screening of the @lifetimetv documentary #survivingRkelly where his survivors, parents of survivors, and folks featured in the doc were gathered and a BOMB THREAT was called in and the event shut down. #muteRkelly” Burke wrote.
So…Y’ALL ARE NOT GOING TO BELIEVE THIS!
Tonight was a private screening of the @lifetimetv documentary #survivingRkelly where his survivors, parents of survivors, and folks featured in the doc were gathered and a BOMB THREAT was called in and the event shut down. #muteRkelly
— Tarana (@TaranaBurke) December 5, 2018
On Instagram, Burke wrote “I am unnerved. I can’t believe these intimidation tactics. But we will prevail.” She included the hashtag #MuteRKelly.
The event started at 7p.m. and an 8:30 panel with R. Kelly’s accusers was scheduled but just 15 minutes into the screened it was halted and the premises evacuated because of threatening calls and it was reported that someone had a gun in the theater.
Kelly’s ex-wife, Andrea Kelly told Variety that she also believes the gun threat was connected to the singer in some way.
“I can’t speak to what he would or would not do because I don’t know what his mindset is right now,” she told Variety. “But I would say that I don’t believe in happenstance, I don’t believe that anything is a coincidence. I do believe that in some shape, form or fashion it is connected to him. Now, whether he orchestrated it or not, that I cannot say. But I just do not believe in coincidences. Of all the theaters, of all the nights, of all the premiers, it happened with us.”
Lifetime released this statement about the turn of events.
“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.”
The series includes more than 50 interviews. Kelly’s brothers Carey and Bruce also appears in the docu-series as well as John Legend and Wendy Williams.
The six-hour Lifetime docuseries will air in three installments: Thursday, January 3rd at 9 p.m. ET/PT; Friday, January 4th at 9 p.m. ET/PT; and Saturday, January 5th at 9 p.m. ET/PT.
Just had to evacuate the #survivingrkelly screening because of threats 🤔 There were 7 survivors set to talk after the screening and Andrea Kelly + Tarana Burke
— Angela Yee (@angelayee) December 5, 2018
The #SurvivingRKelly premiere was just evacuated because we received a threat. The survivors were whisked away. I have the full video on IG and I’m gonna post clips in this thread
— ♈️☀️~Femme~🌙♌️ (@FeministaJones) December 5, 2018