Despite hard pushback from his estate over the documentary “Leaving Neverland,” which accuses former pop icon Michael Jackson of sexually abusing underage boys, the “Queen of All Media” Oprah Winfrey will interview the now-deceased singer’s two accusers.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, Wade Robson and James Safechuck, who both allege that Michael Jackson molested them on his Neverland Ranch, will sit down for an hourlong interview with Oprah as part of an OWN/HBO special that will air following the premiere of the documentary on HBO.
“The special, titled Oprah Winfrey Presents: After Neverland, will be taped before an audience that includes survivors of sexual abuse,” reports THR. “The one-hour special will air simultaneously on HBO and OWN on March 4 at 10 p.m. immediately following the second and final part of the two-night Leaving Neverland.”
“Leaving Neverland” has been bogged down in controversy ever since it premiered at the Sundance Film Festival. Critics of the film have denounced it as being one-sided by presenting the allegations of pedophilia made by Wade Robson and James Safechuck without any accompanying defense of Jackson.
“Secrets will eat you up,” Safechuck said of his relationship with Jackson. “You feel so alone.”
Robson defended Jackson during the 2005 child molestation case. He now claims to have been lying. “I want to be able to speak the truth as loud as I had to speak the lie for so long,” the 36-year-old Australian native said.
Kyle Smith of National Review says the documentary presents a “damning picture” of the singer as an abuser of little boys on his Neverland Ranch:
Wade Robson, 36, and James Safechuck, 40, have previously stated under oath that they weren’t victimized by Jackson when they were children. They are now saying their previous testimony was untrue and that it resulted from direct pressure by Jackson himself, who told them that he and they would be jailed if he should be convicted of sexual abuse. “I want to speak the truth as loud as I spoke the lie,” Robson says in the four-hour documentary Leaving Neverland, which has just premiered at the Sundance Film Festival ahead of being broadcast on HBO later this year. In the film, he and Safechuck tell their stories in gruesome, indeed sickening, detail. (A statement from the Jackson estate dismissed the allegations as uncorroborated “tabloid character assassination.”)
Safechuck was a child actor who says he met Jackson at age ten while filming a Pepsi commercial. Starting when he was eleven, he says, they engaged in sex acts many times at Jackson’s Neverland compound — in a castle, in an attic, in a pool, in a train station. Safechuck says the pop singer used to hold drills in which he would train the boy in putting his clothes on quickly in case any witnesses should appear. Jackson also told him that “if anyone ever found out that we were doing these sexual things, we would go to jail for the rest of our lives.” “I was terrified.” When Safechuck was 14, he says, Jackson staged a mock wedding with him, complete with vows and a diamond-encrusted wedding ring.
For a brief time, it appeared that HBO would not go forward with airing the documentary amid mounting backlash from Jackson’s estate and his die-hard fanbase. Last week, HBO issued a statement saying the documentary will air as scheduled.
“Despite the desperate lengths taken to undermine the film, our plans remain unchanged,” read the statement. “HBO will move forward with the airing of Leaving Neverland, the two-part documentary, on March 3rd and 4th. This will allow everyone the opportunity to assess the film and the claims in it for themselves.”