HBO is standing by its controversial Michael Jackson documentary that reveals the horrific alleged sexual abuse of young boys he took under his wing and invited to stay in his lair Neverland.
Despite rumors that HBO is reconsidering acquiring the rights to Leaving Neverland, the network’s boss Casey Bloys says he has every intention to continue with the film.
‘There is no hesitation, there are no plans to not air it,’ Bloys, HBO’s programming president, said to The Wrap.
He added that despite challenges from Michael Jackson’s estate attorneys, the network will proceed with airing the film on Sunday March 3.
‘All I ask of this is that people watch it and judge for themselves. I think you will see a very powerful, very moving, disturbing documentary. Once people see it, they can decide for themselves,’ Bloys said.
‘We’re not dealing with any legal issues or concerns. It’s going to air and we have not edited it,’ he said when asked about any possible ramifications.
‘We have a very, very experienced legal team. This has been vetted,’ he added.
The bombshell four-hour documentary, directed by Dan Reed, was first screened at the Sundance film festival in January and HBO and Channel 4 quickly scooped up the rights for the shocking film.
The film follows the story of Wade Robson and Jimmy Safechuck who claim that they were molested by the pop star while they were children.
The abuse alleged in the film was so appalling there were counselors on hand for traumatized viewers.
Since airing, the film has sparked backlash and outrage among Jackson fans and the king of pop’s estate.
Jackson’s estate has slammed the abuse claims as false and sent a 10-page letter to HBO executives to discredit Robson and Safechuck’s accounts in the documentary.
The estate released a statement last month calling the film ‘yet another lurid production in an outrageous and pathetic attempt to exploit and cash in on Michael Jackson’.
‘Wade Robson and James Safechuck have both testified under oath that Michael never did anything inappropriate toward them. This so called “documentary” is just another rehash of dated and discredited allegations. It’s baffling why any credible filmmaker would involve himself with this project,’ the statement added.
Estate lawyer Howard Weitzman offered to meet with HBO executives in his letter and says that if the network cares about ethical standards ‘this documentary will never air on HBO’.
‘We know that this will go down as the most shameful episode in HBO’s history,’ he said in the letter.
‘We know that Michael’s devoted fans, and all good people in the world, will not swiftly forgive HBO for its conduct,’ he added.
Afterwards, HBO released a statement defending the film.
‘Our plans remain unchanged…Dan Reed is an award-winning filmmaker who has carefully documented these survivors’ accounts. people should reserve judgement until they see the film.’
Director Dan Reed also defended his movie.
‘Anyone who sees the film will know it is solely about hearing the stories of two specific individuals and their families in their own words, and that is a focus we are very proud of,’ he said in a statement.