Channel 4 and HBO have co-produced award-winning director Dan Reed's Leaving Neverland, a two-part documentary about two men who recount their experiences of being sexually abused by Michael Jackson.
When allegations of abuse by Michael Jackson involving young boys surfaced in 1993, many found it hard to believe that he could be guilty of such unspeakable acts. Leaving Neverland explores the experiences of two young boys, James Safechuck, at age ten, and Wade Robson, at age seven, who were both befriended by Jackson. They and their families were entranced by the singer's fairy-tale existence as his career reached its peak.
Director Dan Reed states this.
"If there's anything we've learned during this time in our history, it's that sexual abuse is complicated, and survivors' voices need to be listened to. It took great courage for these two men to tell their stories and I have no question about their validity. I believe anyone who watches this film will see and feel the emotional toll on the men and their families and will appreciate the strength it takes to confront long-held secrets."
Through gut-wrenching interviews with Safechuck and Robson, now in their 30s, as well as their mothers, wives and siblings, LLeaving Neverland crafts a portrait of sustained abuse, and explores the complicated feelings that led both men to confront their experiences after each had a young son of his own. Playing out against the backdrop of our collective experience, the film documents the value of breaking silence, even when it implicates a powerful and revered figure.
Both of the accusers featured in this film have previously repeatedly denied that they were abused by Jackson. Their civil case and claims against Jackson were dismissed by a judge without trial in 2017. Wade Robson testified for Jackson's defence as an adult and while under oath in Jackson's highly publicised trial (2005) at the end of which Jackson was acquitted of all charges. During Jackson's life, Wade Robson continued his friendship with Jackson, dedicating his MTV show to him, using Neverland Ranch as a location for his film project. Even in death Wade Robson requested to attended Jackson's memorial service, performed in an MTV tribute performance, contributed to an official Michael Jackson tribute book released by the MJ Estate, contributed to Jermaine Jackson's book about Michael Jackson, and was even in talks with the MJ Estate to direct one of two Cirque Du Soleil tribute shows.
Leaving Neverland was commissioned by Channel 4 Commissioning Editor Tom Porter. The two-part series is made by AMOS Pictures and directed by Dan Reed. Leaving Neverland will premiere on HBO and Channel 4 this spring.
The Jackson estate has denounced the documentary as "yet another lurid production" in an outrageous and pathetic attempt to exploit and cash in on Michael Jackson.