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Michael Jackson Estate Slams “Disgraceful” Leaving Neverland Again

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Michael Jackson arriving at the Santa Barbara County Courthouse on May 6, 2005.

By Carlo Allegri/Getty.

The estate of Michael Jackson has taken another step to formally push back against the upcoming documentary Leaving Neverland, which focuses on pedophilia allegations made against the late entertainer. Estate attorney Howard Weitzman sent a letter to Channel 4, the U.K. network that is set to air the film in early March. In the letter, Weitzman claims the Leaving Neverland filmmakers never attempted to reach out to the Jackson estate, nor did they reach out to family, friends, and other defenders of Jackson, falling short of the network’s ethical guidelines.

“Those concerned should be given an appropriate and timely opportunity to respond,” the letter reads, per the Associated Press. “I think we can all agree that the false allegations being made in your ‘documentary’ are ‘significant allegations’ . . . it is hard to imagine more significant accusations that can possibly be made against anyone.”

The estate also sent a letter to HBO, which will air the film in the U.S., calling the Jackson accusers “disgraceful” and saying their backgrounds should be examined, per the A.P.

Channel 4 has responded by noting that Jackson’s past denials of the allegations are included in the film, which is enough to meet the network’s standards. “On this occasion the person against whom the significant allegations are being made is deceased. It is therefore appropriate that his denials during life are included in the program,” the station said, according to the A.P. Jackson died in 2009.

Leaving Neverland director Dan Reed has also responded to the estate, noting that the focus of the film is on the two accusers, Wade Robson and James Safechuck, both of whom have said that Jackson molested them when they were children. In the past, both accusers explicitly told authorities that the singer did not molest them; Robson also testified at Jackson’s 2005 trial. Jackson denied the allegations and was not convicted. “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,” Reed said.

Leaving Neverland made its debut in January at the Sundance Film Festival, where it stunned critics and sparked backlash from Jackson’s most ardent fans. Robson and Safechuck attended the debut screening, sitting down for a Q&A afterward. “We are just trying to tell the story, to shine light on it,” Safechuck said. “The same way—knowing Wade went through this—we can give other people the connection and comfort that we’ve received.”

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