Oprah Winfrey is well aware of the criticism she will face for giving two of Michael Jackson’s alleged victims a platform.
Ahead of tonight’s HBO premiere of controversial documentary Leaving Neverland, Winfrey interviewed Wade Robson and James Safechuck about the film and their relationship to the now-deceased King of Pop, whom they accuse of child molestation. They were joined by director Dan Reed before an audience of sexual abuse survivors.
The Jasmine Brand reports that during the discussion, Winfrey acknowledged she and Jackson’s accusers will face backlash from both fans and Jackson’s family.
“All the fans and the estate. You guys know you’re gonna get it, right? I’m gonna get it. Are you prepared for that,” she asked.
The Jackson estate filed a lawsuit last week against HBO claiming the doc is based on false accusations and its accusers have been financially motivated to lie. More important, HBO reportedly entered into a nondisparagement agreement with Jackson in 1992 when it aired his Michael Jackson in Bucharest: The Dangerous Tour concert. The agreement restricts individuals from taking any action that negatively impacts an organization, its reputation, products, services, management or employees.
“HBO and the director were well aware of their financial motives and that ample opposing facts are available from numerous sources, but made the unconscionable decision to bury any evidence casting doubt on their chosen narrative,” said Howard Weitzman, the Jackson estate attorney. “Had they made an objective film it would have allowed viewers to make up their own minds about these allegations, instead of having a television network dictate to them that they must accept these false claims about Michael Jackson.”
The two-part Leaving Neverland premieres March 3 at 8 p.m. EST on HBO. Oprah Winfrey Presents: After Neverland will debut simultaneously on HBO and OWN at 10 p.m. EST March 4, immediately following the conclusion of part two of the documentary.
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Born and raised in Compton, California, Jessica Bennett began her career as an intern at The Oakland Post, and later, The Source Magazine. She went on to write for respected hip hop publications such as DJ Booth and Hip Hop DX before becoming the Urban Editor of pop culture website, Wetpaint.com. She joined Ebony as the Entertainment Editor August 2017. Bennett has interviewed such names as Vanessa Williams, Spike Lee, Tyra Banks, Forest Whitaker, Magic & Cookie Johnson and several others.