Leaving Neverland: Controversial documentary alleging Michael Jackson molested two young boys to air on Channel 4 in UK

A CONTROVERSIAL documentary alleging the late King Of Pop Michael Jackson was a predatory sex offender is set to air on television.

Saturday, 26th January 2019, 10:50 am
Updated Thursday, 7th February 2019, 7:14 pm
The documentary has been criticised by Michael Jackson's family. Picture: PA

Leaving Neverland, which made its debut at Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah, America, yesterday will air on Channel 4 later this year. 

The premiere of the four hour documentary drew a small group of protesters. 

Leaving Neverland features interviews with two alleged victims of Jackson, who said they were children when he groomed and molested them.

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The Michael Jackson estate condemned the film as ‘an outrageous and pathetic attempt to exploit and cash in’ on the superstar.

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The documentary will air in two-parts on Channel 4 in the UK and HBO in the US. 

Tom Porter, Channel 4 commissioning editor, says, ‘Dan Reed has succeeded in making an extraordinarily compelling, yet moving film about two men whose lives were changed forever by one of the most famous men who ever lived.

‘Channel 4 is immensely proud to have commissioned this film and created the opportunity for James’ and Wade’s experiences to be so sensitively told'.’ 

What is Leaving Neverland about? 

The documentary 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 said: ‘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.’ 

The documentary features interviews with Safechuck and Robson, who are now in their 30s, as well as their mothers, wives and siblings.

Healthcare professionals were on hand for those who needed them during the film's premiere at Sundance. 

Why is it controversial? 

One of the men's accounts is controversial because he previously swore under oath that Jackson had never molested him before changing his account in a 2016 lawsuit.

The film premiered at Sundance on Friday and pictures from the scene show about 25 protesters stood outside Park City's Egyptian Theatre in Utah holding signs reading ‘Seek Truth’ and ‘Innocent’.

One fan, Catherine Van Tighem, travelled from Alberta, Canada to join the protest.

She told Variety: ‘This film is not about giving a voice to a victim. The people that are featured in this film have already had their day in court and they have been legally denied.

‘They were seeking financial gain and the case was dismissed ... if Michael were alive today, this film would be considered defamation.’ 

What has the reaction to the film been? 

Despite the controversy surrounding Leaving Neverland, the film received a standing ovation after its four-hour screening.