Monday 20 May 2019

'It’s almost like they see a blank cheque' - Michael Jackson’s family speak out against controversial documentary Leaving Neverland

Leaving Neverland is due to air on Channel 4 on March 6 and 7

‘Leaving Neverland’ pulls no punches
‘Leaving Neverland’ pulls no punches
Michael Jackson features in the controversial documentary Leaving Neverland (PA)

Michael Jackson’s family has said a controversial documentary alleging the late musician was a paedophile is “all about the money”.

Leaving Neverland features interviews with two men – James Safechuck and Wade Robson – who allege they were sexually abused by Jackson as children.

The film has provoked a furious reaction from the Jackson estate and it is suing HBO, the US TV channel which co-produced Leaving Neverland alongside Channel 4.

Both HBO and Channel 4 have said they will go ahead with broadcasting the documentary.

Michael Jackson’s estate has condemned a documentary alleging he abused young boys AP Photo/Doug Pizac, File)
Michael Jackson’s estate has condemned a documentary alleging he abused young boys AP Photo/Doug Pizac, File)

Four members of the Jackson family – Michael’s brothers Tito, Marlon, Jackie, and his nephew Taj – will appear on CBS This Morning in the US on Wednesday to discuss the documentary.

In a teaser clip, Marlon told host Gayle King the accusers were looking for compensation and that it is “all about the money”.

Michael Jackson and James Safechuck, then aged 10, in 1988 on Jackson’s private plane. Photo: Dave Hogan/Getty Images
Michael Jackson and James Safechuck, then aged 10, in 1988 on Jackson’s private plane. Photo: Dave Hogan/Getty Images

Taj added: “It’s always been about money. I hate to say it when it’s my uncle, it’s almost like they see a blank cheque.

“These people felt that they’re owed something. You know, instead of working for something, they blame everything on my uncle.”

Wade Robson, director Dan Reed and James Safechuck promote the film Leaving Neverland (Taylor Jewell/Invision/AP)
Wade Robson, director Dan Reed and James Safechuck promote the film Leaving Neverland (Taylor Jewell/Invision/AP)

Taj also suggested his uncle’s downfall had been his “naivete” because he could not see how “odd” his “sleepovers” with young boys appeared to the outside world.

He said: “I grew up in it, so for me it wasn’t odd. You know, I think, to the outside world, yes, I think it can be odd. I mean, I’m not oblivious to what it sounds like.

“But when you’re actually there in that atmosphere and you’re around it, and you’re watching movies with his kids, whether it’s Little Rascals or Three Stooges, and you’re watching these things, it’s like, it’s very innocent.”

Taj added: “But I think the fault on my uncle was he just, he didn’t have that bone in his body to look at it the other way. And I think that was the thing, is that his naivete was his downfall in a way.”

Michael Jackson manipulative and deliberate in grooming children – director

Director Dan Reed has defended Leaving Neverland and said it will demonstrate that the singer was very different from his “Peter Pan-ish image”.

Jackson, who died in 2009, was accused of molesting the then 13-year-old Gavin Arvizo, conspiring to kidnap him and his family and giving him alcohol, but was found not guilty of all charges following a high-profile four-month trial.

Two-part documentary Leaving Neverland is due to air on Channel 4 on March 6 and March 7.

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