Michael Jackson’s estate slams HBO plans for abuse claims documentary

Michael Jackson’s estate has criticised a US TV network’s decision to air a documentary that includes claims from two men that the superstar molested them.

A 10-page letter offers a meeting with HBO executives to try to discredit the stories of the two men, Wade Robson and James Safechuck, featured in the documentary Leaving Neverland.

The estate contends the men are lying and that court filings and story inconsistencies prove that.

The letter, written by estate lawyer Howard Weitzman, criticises the documentary for focusing solely on Mr Robson and Mr Safechuck’s stories and not interviewing anyone from Jackson’s family, his estate or others who knew him.

It states Robson had sought work on a Jackson-themed Cirque du Soleil show and raised the molestation allegations only after he wasn’t hired.

Wade Robson, from left, director Dan Reed and James Safechuck
Wade Robson, from left, director Dan Reed and James Safechuck (Photo by Taylor Jewell/Invision/AP, File)

The first instalment of the four-hour documentary will air on HBO on March 3, with the second half airing the following night.

HBO said in a statement after the letter’s release: “Our plans remain unchanged. … Dan Reed is an award-winning filmmaker who has carefully documented these survivors’ accounts. People should reserve judgment until they see the film.”

Both Mr Robson and Mr Safechuck both alleged they were molested and unsuccessfully sued Jackson’s estate after the singer’s June 2009 death. Robson gave evidence in Jackson’s defence at a 2005 molestation trial that ended with the singer’s acquittal.

Director Dan Reed has said he intentionally focused on the stories of Robson and Safechuck.

“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,” Mr Reed said in a previous statement.

Mr Weitzman’s letter includes an offer to meet with HBO executives to discuss the film, and states 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,” Mr Weitzman’s letter said.

“We know that Michael’s devoted fans, and all good people in the world, will not swiftly forgive HBO for its conduct.”