*please note have not watched Leaving Neverland but what this article brings up definitely most fans will want to read this. - mbi team *
Article FROM DECIDER
Wade Robson will forever be known as the man who exposed Michael Jackson’s alleged child molestation in Leaving Neverland, but before 2019 he was most widely known, certainly among boy band fans, as the sixth member of *NSYNC. Oh, and also the rumored man who led to Britney Spears’ alleged cheating and subsequent split from Justin Timberlake, long before the internet actually celebrated those coordinating denim outfits.
In Part 2 of Leaving Neverland, around the 34 minute mark, there’s footage of Robson in a dance rehearsal space going over the steps to *NSYNC’s “No Strings Attached” for their upcoming world tour in 2000, as well as footage of him teaching Britney Spears the dance moves to “I’m A Slave 4 You”. But that’s just about the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Robson’s involvement in the pop explosion at the turn of the century.
Robson’s Wikipedia says he choreographed the iconic Britney/*NSYNC performance at the 1999 MTV VMAs, and I’d also be willing to bet he put the remix of their songs together, especially considering if you listen hard enough it sounds like those are his “Now whatcha want”s under “…Baby One More Time” and that there might be a sample of Michael Jackson’s “Jam” underneath “Tearin’ Up My Heart”.
From there, (and again, he was about 17 at this point) Robson became a thread in the fabric so intertwined with the biggest pop stars of that time (and today, really). He went on to serve as the choreographer and show coordinator for the No Strings Attached tour, with the footage shown in Leaving Neverland from *NSYNC’s Making the Tour special, where Robson is featured throughout. He’s firmly running the dance rehearsals in prep for the tour, teaching and going over the steps with the guys, all the way to rehearsals for the tour in empty arenas where he’s barking out orders on the mic, pointing out what needs adjusting and perfecting the stage show, while scolding the group when they’re missing dance steps. He’s right there next to them on stage, running through the choreography right along with them. If you want to know how full circle that special really gets, stick around through the end credits, as Timberlake takes viewers behind the scenes while the guys were filming a pre-taped bit for the tour that included a monkey, where he notes, “It ain’t Bubbles, but he’s cool,” referring to Jackson’s former pet. Yikes.
Robson went on to choreograph and direct the group’s massive 2001 PopOdyssey stadium tour, also co-writing “Pop”, “Gone” (irony aside, freakin’ “GONE”), “See Right Through You”, and “Celebrity” off their 2001 Celebrity album. He even filled in for Joey Fatone in the “Pop” music video. He was that much the sixth man for this group, jumping off the bench when they needed a talented new player in the moment.
As far as his involvement with Britney Spears, Robson not only directed her 2001 Pepsi Super Bowl commercial (and if you look closely is also a dancer), but choreographed her 1999-2000 tour, as well as the “I’m A Slave 4 You” music video, and co-wrote (along with Timberlake) on “What It’s Like To Be Me”, a deep cut from her 2001 album Britney. He also went on to direct her 2001 Dream Within a Dream tour.
When he reflects on this part of his career in Leaving Neverland, Robson says, “Michael had some sort of obsession with Britney and he would call me and he’d wanna know what it was like working with her, what she was like. ‘Isn’t she sexy? Isn’t she beautiful?’ Wondering if I can set up a way for them to meet. And in those conversations as well, Michael was really interested in my sexual life with girls.” Robson goes on to say it was “Just really weird, considering Michael and I’s whole sexual history,” and then the documentary moves on.
One of pop culture’s worst kept secrets is that it was Robson with whom Spears cheated on Timberlake, as Robson’s professional relationship with both seemed to fizzle after their breakup in early 2002. Maybe it was simply a misdirection for which he took the blame to protect his friends, who knows. But it’s a scandal and subject that really hasn’t been brought up so blatantly for over 15 years. So now that Leaving Neverland comes so close to it…should Robson have just addressed it?
Discussing Britney Spears and sex in the same sentence left the door wide open for him. He could’ve taken the opportunity to clear things up (or confirm?) for those that remain obsessed with the pop stars’ former relationship. Perhaps any involvement with Spears would put into context his relationship with Jackson — it’s not that they have nothing to do with each other or she never would’ve come up in this documentary. There’s even the possibility that discussing that moment, one that did change pop culture forever, would’ve earned Robson some sympathy.
On the other hand, it makes sense why he wouldn’t discuss it (or maybe even if it was cut out of the doc). Sure, addressing one major life-defining moment at a time is enough pressure on one person, not that he needed to add another to his honest answers. And it’s likely that discussing a Spears hookup could take away from the seriousness of what he was there to explain in the first place. There’s also that matter that Robson was likely unsure of what the response to Leaving Neverland would be — why bother adding one more thing for people to be upset about?
It’s easy to classify Robson’s possible involvement in the Timberlake/Spears relationship as “none of our business” except that at least two out of the three parties made it their business long before Taylor Swift turned writing about being wronged into an art form (love you, “Cry Me A River”). For those that have been fans of Robson’s for nearly two decades, a man who shaped so much of the singing and dancing of that era, it felt like a platform to set a lot of records straight once and for all. However, it’s also necessary in this moment to understand why so many feel him discussing his background is only his way of being opportunistic, at attempting to get back into the spotlight or get more work, so bringing up another popular scandal could — and likely would — backfire. If we believe him about Michael, would we still believe him about Britney?