Media mogul Oprah Winfrey, and cable giant HBO have distanced themselves from the controversial documentary “Leaving Neverland.”
The docuseries “Leaving Neverland,” which aired on HBO in March, featured Wade Robson and James Safechuck who accused Michael Jackson of sexually abusing them over a number of years. The alleged abuse began when the men were young boys. Oprah Winfrey conducted the interview in front of 100 sexual abuse survivors.
The triggering docuseries sparked outrage and admonishment of the now-deceased “King of Pop.” Michael Jackson’s family maintained his innocence and continued postmortem support of the pop legend.
And after an important discrepancy was pointed out, Winfrey and HBO changed their tunes.
Safechuck claimed he was abused by Jackson inside the train station at the Neverland Ranch, which didn’t exist during the time he claimed the abuse happened.
One of Jackson’s biographers, James Sullivan, alleged there was a train station on the Neverland estate in 1990. Another Jackson biographer, Mike Smallcombe, claimed that Sullivan never visited the ranch and that his assertion was based off of a video Sullivan had viewed of the ranch in 2003.
Smallcombe came with receipts in tow stating via Twitter, “A handful of people are citing something in Randall Sullivan’s book saying Neverland’s train station existed in 1990. Sullivan assumed the station was there then—his description of what Neverland might have looked like to visitors then, is based on a 2003 sheriff’s dept. video.”
Sullivan had sourced the construction permits for the 1993 train station, which proved the building work was approved in September 1993 but not actually built until a year later.
I'm inundated with messages about a couple of mock-up tabloid stories regarding the Neverland train station – again. Here is a statement which should address those false stories. The bottom line is, Neverland's one and only train station opened in 1994. pic.twitter.com/UkO70qYbfn
— Mike Smallcombe (@mikesmallcombe1) April 9, 2019
“Leaving Neverland’s” director, Dan Reed, maintains that Safechuck is telling the truth. He, basically, disregarded the inaccuracy stating Safechuck’s abuse was over an extended period of time.
1. James Safechuck was at Neverland both before and after the construction of the train station there. The two still photos of the station shown in #leavingneverland were in fact taken by James, who is very clear that he was abused by Jackson in multiple places over many years.
— Dan Reed (@danreed1000) April 4, 2019
Meanwhile, Oprah Winfrey has removed all of the Youtube videos with interview footage of Robson and Safechuck from her channel. HBO has discretely removed the documentary from its lineup. “Leaving Neverland” was supposed to air until September but the documentary won’t run after this week.
Michael Jackson’s estate has filed a lawsuit against HBO and his nephews are in the process of raising money to film their own documentary to counter “Leaving Neverland.”