Leaving Neverland, which split opinion when part one aired in the UK earlier this month, focuses on testimony by Wade Robson, 36, and James Safechuck, 41, who both claim that Jackson sexually abused them when they were children. In the wake of the film being shown, Jackson’s songs were subsequently banned on numerous radio stations around the world.
Now the co-executor of Michael Jackson’s estate John Branca has slammed the film as a “made-for-TV-movie”, adding that while there have been “challenges” he doesn’t believe Jackson’s legacy will be forever tarnished.
“People love Michael. They love Michael’s music for sure,” the told the Harvard Institute of Politics, reports USA Today. “And if the investigation is effective, which I think it will be, in showing that there is severe doubt about what may or may not have happened, we will be back to people feeling ‘It’s OK to say I like Michael’.”
This comes after it emerged that Jackson’s children were “quietly investigating” Robson and Safechuck as they advance their own legal proceedings against the pair.
“The three children say that all they want is to preserve their father’s musical legacy,” a representative told Page Six. “They feel that the ‘documentary’ was one-sided and the two men have made numerous claims that aren’t true. As for the allegations, they believe that per their own investigation and other news sources, money raised by the two men and maybe others has not gone to a charity or to promote anything positive.
- Read: “More victims will come out” – ‘Leaving Neverland’ director Dan Reed on Michael Jackson’s legacy
They continued: “They want formal answers on the ‘charity’ issue of Mr. Robson and his ‘donation’ and more. They certainly haven’t used their new platform and that is the point. The Jacksons use theirs to help others. It’s the principle, but it’s also possibly illegal and they want answers.”
This week, a lawyer for Robson and Safechuck said Jackson’s estate were seeking to discredit the singer’s accusers out of their own financial interest.
“Their recent comments are just part and parcel of the same thing they’ve been doing for years, which is protect the estate so they can continue to profit off of it,” attorney Vince Finaldi said.
Elsewhere, Reed has defended his film against a biographer’s claims that newfound evidence could disprove some of the paedophilia allegations levelled at Jackson. The main point of contention is an inconsistent recollection of dates by Safechuck in relation to the construction of Jackson’s Neverland train station– Safechuck claims he was abused in the station’s upstairs room.
Reed responded: “James Safechuck was present at Michael Jackson’s Neverland Valley Ranch both before and after the construction of the train station there. The two still photographs of the train station shown in the documentary were taken by Safechuck and provided to the film-maker by him. Safechuck’s testimony in the film is that he was abused by Jackson in multiple places over several years, into his teens.”
Jackson denied any wrongdoing before his death in 2009.