Despite legal threats from the Michael Jackson Estate, HBO is moving forward with plans to air Leaving Neverland. Directed by Dan Reed, the four-hour documentary details Michael Jackson’s long-running relationships with two underage boys, James Safechuck and Wade Robson, both of who accuse the pop singer of molesting them throughout the 1980s and 90s.
The film will premiere on HBO across two nights on March 3rd and 4th. In anticipation, the first trailer has been unveiled.
In a 10-page letter sent to HBO, Howard Weitzman, an attorney for the Michael Jackson Estate, described Leaving Neverland as “an admittedly one-sided, sensationalist program,” and said HBO “is being used as part of Robson’s and Safechuck’s legal strategy,” as the two are currently seeking appeals in lawsuits against the estate. Weitzman also took issue with the film’s omission of interviews with the Jackson Estate or other parties who would refute the molestation claims.
“That HBO has now joined the tabloid media’s ‘Michael Jackson cacophony’—ten years after his death—is truly sad,” Weitzman went on to say in the letter. “We know that HBO is facing serious competitive pressures from Netflix, Amazon and other more modern content providers, but to stoop to this level to regain an audience is disgraceful. We know HBO and its partners on this documentary will not be successful. We know that this will go down as the most shameful episode in HBO’s history.”
HBO programming president Casey Bloys said the legal threats won’t alter HBO’s plans.“We hope that people will reserve judgment until they see it,” he remarked. “It’s very powerful to see these two men share their stories. I think after everybody sees it, they can decide for themselves.” He also defended the integrity of the film, saying that it “absolutely” meets HBO’s standards.