Michael Jackson Documentary ‘Leaving Neverland’ Will Air on HBO This Spring – TheWrap

A new four-hour documentary about two men recounting experiences in which they say they were sexually abused by Michael Jackson as boys, will premiere on HBO this spring.

The documentary, “Leaving Neverland,” is told in two parts and was a surprise addition to the 2019 Sundance lineup.

The synopsis for the film, directed by Dan Reed, is: “When allegations of abuse by Jackson involving young boys surfaced in 1993, many found it hard to believe that he could be guilty of such unspeakable acts. ‘Leaving Neverland’ explores the experiences of two young boys, James Safechuck, at age 10, and Wade Robson, at age 7, who were both befriended by Jackson. They and their families were entranced by the singer’s fairy-tale existence as his career reached its peak.”

Also Read: Michael Jackson Doc About 2 Sex Abuse Accusers Joins Sundance Lineup

“If there’s anything we’ve learned during this time in our history, it’s that sexual abuse is complicated, and survivors’ voices need to be listened to,” Reed said in a statement. “It took great courage for these two men to tell their stories and I have no question about their validity. I believe anyone who watches this film will see and feel the emotional toll on the men and their families and will appreciate the strength it takes to confront long-held secrets.”

“Leaving Neverland” uses tough interviews with Safechuck and Robson, now in their 30s, as well as their mothers, wives and siblings, in order craft what the filmmakers say is a portrait of sustained abuse. It also sets out to explore the complicated feelings that led both men to confront their experiences after each had a young son of his own.

A rep from Jackson’s estate told TheWrap: “This is yet another lurid production in an outrageous and pathetic attempt to exploit and cash in on Michael Jackson.” The rep added that the two accusers had “both testified under oath that Michael never did anything inappropriate toward them” and said that they “filed lawsuits against Michael’s Estate, asking for millions of dollars. Both lawsuits were dismissed.”

Also Read: Michael Jackson’s Estate Sues Disney, ABC Over ‘The Last Days’ Special

Jackson was acquitted of sexually molesting two brothers at his criminal trial in 2005. They are not the men in the documentary. He also paid a civil settlement in 1994 over accusations that he molested another boy, who is now in his 30s and is also not one of the men in the doc.

The Jackson rep’s statement added: “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.”

“Leaving Neverland” was a co-production of Channel 4 and HBO and made by AMOS Pictures. It will premiere on HBO as well as Channel 4 this spring.

11 Best Documentaries of 2018, From ‘Minding the Gap’ to ‘Monrovia, Indiana’ (Photos)


  • Documentaries managed to find an even broader audience this year, with streaming services like Netflix and Hulu doubling down on non-fiction, both as producers and distributors of new unscripted films and TV shows. But whether they screened in theaters, at home or at film festivals, these documentaries were the best of the best:

    Focus Features/Hulu/Netflix


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    10. “Scotty and the Secret History of Hollywood”:

    Matt Tyrnauer’s portrait of legendary Tinseltown “procurer” Scotty Bowers had plenty of vintage show-biz dish, but it also raised interesting questions about who decides when and how LGBTQ history is “appropriate” to share with the masses.

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  • Hale County This Morning, This Evening

    9. “Hale County This Morning, This Evening”:

    Equal parts visual poem and ethnographic documentary, RaMell Ross’ debut film examines a handful of residents of the titular Alabama county as his camera turns quotidian moments into something breathtaking and magical.

    Louverture Films


  • Bathtubs Over Broadway

    8. “Bathtubs Over Broadway”:

    Besides providing a fascinating glimpse into the industrial musical — elaborate song-and-dance extravaganzas mounted by companies like Xerox or Purina to excite their sales teams — this film follows one collector’s journey from snarky outside observer to fan, champion, and archivist.

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  • Monrovia, Indiana

    7. “Monrovia, Indiana”:

    Frederick Wiseman, arguably our greatest living documentarian, takes his camera to the Midwest and reveals more truths about the American heartland than a dozen New York Times let’s-talk-to-Trump’s-base think-pieces.

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  • That Way Madness Lies

    6. “That Way Madness Lies”:

    Sandra Luckow’s portrait of her brother Duanne’s battles with mental health issues — and the impact they have had on their entire family — feels almost painfully intimate at times, focusing on the helplessness that people can feel as they watch a loved one disappear into disorder and exposing the shortcomings of the public health system to deal with such crises.

    First Run Features


  • Jane Fonda in Five Acts

    5. “Jane Fonda in Five Acts”:

    The on-screen and off-screen life of this iconic actress and activist sweeps through a fascinating chunk of modern American history in this compelling documentary from director Susan Lacy (working with the blueprint laid out by Fonda’s 2006 memoir).

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  • Three Identical Strangers

    4. “Three Identical Strangers”:

    The tale of triplets separated at birth and reunited as adults is a fascinating enough story, but it’s just the first act of a family saga so bizarre and tragic that no novelist could ever invent it. Tim Wardle recounts this yarn with grace.

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  • Won't You Be My Neighbor/They'll Love Me When I'm Dead

    3. (tie) “They’ll Love Me When I’m Dead”/ “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?”:

    The great Morgan Neville (“20 Feet From Stardom,” “Best of Enemies”) scored two of the year’s best docs with looks at two exceedingly different cultural figures: the cantankerous Orson Welles and the thoroughly kind and empathetic Fred Rogers.

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  • Shirkers

    2. “Shirkers”:

    Sandi Tan retraces the path to her own lost indie feature film from decades ago, discovering uncomfortable truths about her collaborators and herself along the way. She pulls no punches as she confronts both her own work and her own past.

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  • Minding The Gap

    1. “Minding the Gap”:

    Bing Liu turns the camera on himself and his lifelong friends (all avid skateboarders) to uncover the pain in their childhoods and to explore new directions toward healing themselves and each other as adults. It’s an emotional knockout that offers a much-needed jolt of hope.

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TheWrap’s Best & Worst of 2018: Critic Alonso Duralde picks the best non-fiction films that span a gamut of styles and stories

Documentaries managed to find an even broader audience this year, with streaming services like Netflix and Hulu doubling down on non-fiction, both as producers and distributors of new unscripted films and TV shows. But whether they screened in theaters, at home or at film festivals, these documentaries were the best of the best:

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