The movie-blogging community was agog Thursday night when Robert Sanchez resurfaced, showing his face for the first time in months by openly attending the movie-junket circuit screening of “Tron: Legacy.”
Sanchez, a film blogging founding father who fled for Mexico in the midst of a family sex scandal and personal financial crisis, was at the Thursday night screening, and for many who have known and worked with him, the reaction was nothing short of shock.
“There were a lot of people, a lot of journalists who were uncomfortable with him being there,” one attendee told TheWrap.
For background, read: Police seek IESB Founder Robert Sanchez in Child Sex Scandal
According to multiple people who were at the screening, which was held exclusively for journalists and bloggers covering this weekend’s “Tron” junkets, Sanchez was being his old outgoing self, talking with colleagues in line and doing little to address the sex abuse allegations and other legal troubles.
What's more, multiple individuals in film-writing circles have told TheWrap that Sanchez still owes them money for their work, including at IESB.net, the site he founded years before bloggers became a cultural force -- the proverbial Marines of genre film-focused journalism.
His presence certainly caused a ripple at the screening.
“I don’t know what to say to someone like that,” a second person who was there told TheWrap.
Disney's online publicity team would've had to have granted Sanchez access to the screening, which had a "no guests" policy. It was too late to contact the company at this writing (refresh Friday for updates).
Meanwhile, his status at IESB.net (shorthand for "Inland Empire Strikes Back") is not entirely clear. When Sanchez briefly disappeared and deleted his online profiles earlier this year, his wife Stephanie lined up a sale to a group of editors, but after a few months of operating under that arrangement and unable to complete the sale, the editors said they pulled out in a huff.
Contacted by TheWrap, Sanchez said in an email Friday morning that those editors had been fired. He also challenged the notion that he or IESB owed money to anyone.
Now it appears that he's supplying content to his site yet again (a post last month about Star Wars theatrical sequels bore his markings; and IESB's report has been rolling along ever since -- just about all of it bylined "IESB Staff").
In conversations with TheWrap over the past several months, Sanchez -- who has not been charged or arrested, let's be clear -- said he went to Mexico because he was destitute and it was cheap to live there, and because he couldn't afford a lawyer, he was afraid investigators would use loose ends from an old minor theft charge to hold him while they looked into allegations that he sexually assaulted his teenage stepdaughter.
Sanchez has aggressively denied the sex allegations, including a blog post suggesting that the stepdaughter’s myriad personal and psychological problems pushed her to make them falsely.
By the time TheWrap heard Thursday night that Sanchez was back in town, it was too late to check with investigators in Rancho Cucamonga, who have been working for months to get an in-person interview with him. (Check back here Friday for a status update.)