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John Legend Says Appearing in R. Kelly Documentary Was an 'Easy Decision'

John Legend had no qualms about speaking his mind in the new, six-part documentary series, Surviving R. Kelly.

The Lifetime series, which was directed by filmmaker Dream Hampton and began airing on Thursday, features interviews with over 50 people — including several women who claim to be victims of sexual misconduct by Kelly, and more who claim to have witnessed impropriety between the artist and his then-underaged protege, Aaliyah. R. Kelly has long denied the allegations against him. 

The series also features sit-downs with some of Kelly’s peers in the music industry, among them Legend — who addressed the artist’s rise to success, specifically with his massive 1996 hit “I Believe I Can Fly,” from the Space Jam soundtrack.

“‘I Believe I Can Fly’ is a powerful song and it inspired a lot of people,” Legend noted. “It was just massive.”

However, the singer also spoke candidly about the allegations against Kelly, which have long been a part of the embattled performer’s controversial legacy. “R. Kelly has brought so much pain to so many people,” Legend said in one of his interviews. “Time’s up for R. Kelly.”

After the first part of Surviving R. Kelly aired on Thursday, Legend tweeted about his appearance in the series, reiterating his support for Kelly’s alleged victims.

“To everyone telling me how courageous I am for appearing in the doc, it didn’t feel risky at all,” he wrote. “I believe these women and don’t give a f**k about protecting a serial child rapist. Easy decision.”

“Also I’m happy to support the work of people like my friends at @ALongWalkHome who have been speaking out on behalf of the survivors for a long time,” Legend added. “We should all thank my friend @dreamhampton for her very necessary work to create #SurvivingRKelly. These survivors deserved to be lifted up and heard. I hope it gets them closer to some kind of justice.”

Speaking with Shadow and Act in an interview published on Thursday morning, Hampton opened up about the difficulties the production faced finding celebrities who were willing to speak out.

“John Legend was the only one,” Hampton revealed. “I asked Jay-Z, I asked Mary J. Blige, I asked Lil Kim, Erykah Badu, Dave Chappelle… I mean, most people just don’t want to touch it. I remember Ahmir [“Questlove” Thompson] was like, ‘I would do anything for you but I can’t do this.’ It’s not because they support him, it’s because it’s so messy and muddy.”

“It’s that turning away that has allowed this to go on.”

Questlove addressed Hampton’s comments on Twitter on Thursday, explaining his reasoning for not wanting to appear in the docuseries.

“I always thought Kels was trash,” The Roots drummer wrote in a since-deleted tweet. “My reason for declining the RKelly docu that I support 10000000 percent is I didn’t wanna be in the ‘good times’ portion of the doc, like stanning for his ‘genius’. I was asked to talk about his genius. I do not nor have I EVER stanned for him.”

Hampton fired back, quoting Questlove’s tweet and adding, “I didn’t ask you about his ‘Genius.’ I’ve never thought he was a genius. I asked you to come on camera and say the same thing you said on Twitter. I told you I need Black male allies.”

Ahead of the show’s premiere, Kelly’s lawyer, Brian Nix, sent a legal warning to Lifetime threatening to sue the network if they didn’t pull the docuseries, TMZ reports. According to the letter published by TMZ, Nix claims that many of the allegations made in the documentary are false, and further alleges that Lifetime knowingly included false accounts.

In response, the network defended their series with a brief and pointedly worded public statement, sharing, “Lifetime has always been a brand that champions women’s stories. The documentary will air as scheduled.”

RELATED CONTENT:

'Surviving R. Kelly' Premiere Evacuated Due to Gun Threat

R. Kelly Seemingly Addresses Sexual Misconduct Allegations in 19-Minute Song 'I Admit'

R. Kelly Responds to Spotify Removing His Music From Its Playlists After Time's Up's #MuteRKelly Campaign

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Matt Lauer Calls Himself an 'Easy Mark' in First Interview Since Sexual Misconduct Scandal

Matt Lauer addressed the “difficult times” he’s been through in his first interview since he was fired from the Today show last November due to alleged sexual misconduct.

The 60-year-old journalist spoke with Radio New Zealand’s Checkpoint With John Campbell about a property issue concerning his ranch in New Zealand. Lauer bought a $ 13 million lease to the Hunter Valley Station Ranch before his sexual harassment scandal erupted, and is now fighting with government groups who want Lauer to grant more access to hikers and hunters in order for them to get to Hawea Conservation Park. Hunter Valley Station is the only thoroughfare to Hawea Conservation Park. 

Lauer is against the easement, and says that the groups are “taking advantage” of the fallout of his highly publicized sexual misconduct scandal.

“I believe the groups that are behind this are in some ways unfortunately taking advantage of some difficult times I’ve been through over the past six months and I think they see me as an easy mark,” Lauer says. “And what they’re going to try to do is put this through, which would set a precedent because this has not been done ever before with a pastoral lease holder or property owner without that person’s consent.”

“In the year and a half or year plus that I’ve owned it, I’ve invested hundreds of thousands of dollars to improve the property and now a year later they come and say, ‘Oh wait a minute, we granted you this lease under this set of rules. We’d like to change the rules,'” Lauer adds. “I don’t think that’s fair.”

Lauer did say that he was open to “explore” compensation if an easement is granted. Meanwhile, the Walking Access Commission and Department of Conservation, which is seeking the easement, is arguing that since the land is technically owned by the government, the public should have greater access.

A source close to Lauer tells ET that he is planning to spend more time in New Zealand, and may not ever want to make a career comeback in the United States.

“[His] friends don’t see Matt returning to the spotlight anytime soon,” he source says. “They’re not sure he’ll ever want to make a big career comeback.”

“It’s a priority for him to get to New Zealand and spend some time away from the States,” the source continues. “He’s still leaning on longtime friends for support; people who have stood by his side and know him as a person.”

Last November, Lauer apologized in a statement prior to the announcement of his termination from the Today show. In April, he once again addressed the sexual misconduct allegations against him in another statement in regard to multiple articles about his alleged behavior while working for NBC.

“I have made no public comments on the many false stories from anonymous or biased sources that have been reported about me over these past several months,” Lauer stated. “I remained silent in an attempt to protect my family from further embarrassment and to restore a small degree of the privacy they have lost. But defending my family now requires me to speak up.”

“I fully acknowledge that I acted inappropriately as a husband, father and principal at NBC,” the statement continued. “However I want to make it perfectly clear that any allegations or reports of coercive, aggressive or abusive actions on my part, at any time, are absolutely false.”

In May, ET spoke to Lauer’s former Today show co-worker, Al Roker, who reacted to the statement. Watch below:

RELATED CONTENT:

NBC Releases Findings of Matt Lauer Investigation

Katie Couric Admits Matt Lauer Scandal Has Been a ‘Very Painful Time’

Ann Curry Says She Once Reported Matt Lauer for Sexual Harassment on Behalf of Another Woman

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