HBO says reports claiming they pulled ‘Leaving Neverland’ are not true

It comes after reports that they'd pulled the Michael Jackson documentary off air

HBO have denied cutting the controversial Michael Jackson documentary Leaving Neverland from its programming.

Directed by Dan Reed, Leaving Neverland focuses on testimony by Wade Robson, 36, and James Safechuck, 41, who both claim that Jackson sexually abused them when they were children. Jackson denied any wrongdoing until his death in 2009.

Earlier this week, reports began circulating that US cable network had removed the two-part documentary series from its programming schedule. Some reports claimed that the documentary was supposed to air until September but was now listed as having a final date of April 17.

Contrary to the claims, HBO have said that the reports are untrue.

“Leaving Neverland is available on HBO through April 16th and then will continue to be available on HBO NOW and HBO GO,” the broadcaster told Complex. “It is now the second most watched [documentary] on HBO in 10 years having reached 7.5 million people for Part 1.”

Meanwhile, director Reed continues to defend the film against a biographer’s claims that his newfound evidence could disprove some of the child sexual abuse allegations levelled at Michael Jackson by Robson and Safechuck.

Mike Smallcombe, a British journalist and the author of Making Michael, said that he uncovered historic testimony by Robson’s mother that contradicts Robson’s allegations detailed in Leaving Neverland. Smallcombe also claims that a part of Safechuck’s allegation is inconsistent with facts surrounding the construction of Jackson’s Neverland’s train station.

Safechuck claimed in his 2014 lawsuit against Jackson’s Estate that he was abused from 1988 until 1992, when he was 14. The alleged victim, now 41, said that he was abused in an upstairs room in Neverland’s train station.

But Smallcombe also uncovered permits that show that the train station was approved for construction on September 2 1993. “The deficiency in Safechuck’s story is this,” he said. “Construction on Neverland’s train station didn’t start until the latter part of 1993, and it didn’t open until the first part of 1994, when Safechuck was 16.

Leaving Neverland director Dan Reed then responded on Twitter, admitting that there must be truth in the construction of the station – but adding that he stood by Safechuck’s abuse claims, though not their dates.

“Yeah, there seems to be no doubt about the station date,” wrote Reed. “The date they have wrong is the end of the abuse.”

Also, details in accounts from two of Jackson‘s bodyguards and a biographer appear to corroborate some of James Safechuck’s claims against the star.

Writing in the 2014 book Remembering The Time: Protecting Michael Jackson In His Final Days, Bill Whitfield and Javon Beard said: “In 1990, Michael Jackson opened the gates of his Neverland Valley Ranch to the public for the first time.

“Neverland’s visitors entered the ranch at its train station, boarding a steam engine that took them up to the main house.”

Additionally, Randall Sullivan corroborated that account in his 2012 biography Untouchable: The Strange Life And Tragic Death Of Michael Jackson. “Reporters invited to tour Neverland at the 1990 public unveiling most often began by inspecting the towering statue of Mercury (the Roman God of profit, trade and commerce) in the drive of the mansion,” he wrote.

“Then climbed a hill out back that led to a near replica of the Main Street train station at Disneyland, with a floral clock that was more magnificent than the one Walt Disney had designed for his own park.”

Diana Ross, among many others, has come to the defence of Jackson after the release of Leaving Neverland.

The singer tweeted her thoughts on Jackson after the film’s release, writing: “This is what’s on my heart this morning. I believe and trust that Michael Jackson was and is A magnificent incredible force to me and to many others.”

She added in a reference to her 1965 hit with The Supremes, writing: “STOP IN THE NAME OF LOVE” You can see the tweet below.