A+E Networks-owned women’s network Lifetime is airing Surviving R. Kelly (pictured) as planned despite legal threats from the musician.
Tabloid news website TMZ reported yesterday (Jan. 3) that Kelly’s lawyer had sent a letter to Lifetime threatening a federal lawsuit if the network aired the docuseries, which presents over two decades’ worth of allegations against Kelly, including holding women against their will in a “sex cult.”
The six-part doc nevertheless premiered later that night.
“Lifetime has always been a brand that champions women’s stories,” the network said in a statement. “The documentary will air as scheduled.”
The premiere delivered 1.9 million total viewers, marking Lifetime’s best performance in more than two years in all key demos and Lifetime’s best unscripted performance in more than three years in all key demos, based on Nielsen Media Research reports.
The episode also ranked as the most social primetime program across broadcast and cable for Jan. 3, excluding sports, according to Nielsen Social Content Ratings.
A New York screening of Surviving R. Kelly was postponed in December after an anonymous caller made gun-related threats to the venue where the event was being held.
The first four parts of the doc are set to air again today starting at 3 p.m. ET/PT on Lifetime and will continue to roll out until Sunday.
Filmmaker and cultural critic Dream Hampton serves as executive producer on Surviving R. Kelly. Brie Miranda Bryant serves as executive producer for Lifetime. Joel Karsberg and Jesse Daniels also serve as EPs for Kreativ Inc. and are backed exclusively by Bunim/Murray Productions.
(Updated at 3:30 p.m. to reflect the premiere’s ratings)