It will air in the UK next month
The four-hour documentary, which debuted at the Sundance Film Festival on January 25, tells the story of two men – Wade Robson and James Safechuck – who both allege they were sexually abused by Jackson in the 1990s.
The ‘Thriller’ icon’s estate then condemned it as “a one-sided sensationalist programme” and “disgraceful”, denouncing the film and its director, Dan Reed.
However, this week it was announced that Leaving Neverland will air in the UK on Channel 4 on Wednesday 6 and 7 of March at 9pm. Now, the broadcaster has released a statement to defend its decision.
“Channel 4 viewers will make their own judgement about the testimony of the two victims interviewed in the film,” the broadcaster said.
Jackon’s claims that they were never contacted by Reed or anyone associated with the film “to provide the Estate’s views on, and responses to, the absolutely false claims that are the subject matter of the [programme].”
The estate also took aim at what they describe as the “one-sided” claims, stating: “no one else who might offer evidence to contradict the [programme’s] premise was consulted either, as Dan Reed has publicly admitted.”
Last month, viewers of the documentary described it as “brutally upsetting”, with attendees at the viewing reporting that the festival enlisted mental health counsellors for audience members who were upset or affected by the film’s content.
Responding to their views, director Reed said: “It is a four-hour documentary by an experienced documentarian with a long track record in investigation and telling complex stories and this is a complex story.
“I’d say it’s beyond doubt a documentary. Anyone with any knowledge of that form would recognize a documentary. A four-hour piece, is that a tabloid? I didn’t characterize Jackson at all in the film — I think if you watch it you’ll have noticed that it’s a story about these two families and Jackson is an element of that story.
“But I don’t seek to characterize him at all. I don’t comment on Jackson. It’s not a film about Michael. … The film itself is an account of sexual abuse, how sexual abuse happens and then how the consequences play out later in life.”
Meanwhile, it was announced this week that producer Quincy Jones will be playing Jackson’s seminal ‘Off The Wall’, ‘Thriller’ and ‘Bad’ back-to-back with an orchestra at a special world exclusive show in London this summer.