Dan Reed’s ‘Leaving Neverland’ was in the news even before its world premiere at Sundance. The two-part, four-hour documentary features searing in-depth interviews with two men, James Safechuck and Wade Robson, who met Michael Jackson when they were young children.
Safechuck appeared in a Pepsi commercial with Jackson, while Robson started to spend time with the pop icon after winning a dance contest in Australia.
Both boys were dazzled, and so were their families.
Robson and Safechuck didn’t get to know each other as children, but both men tell hauntingly similar stories. They say Jackson initiated sexual relations, told them he loved them and swore them to secrecy. He continued to abuse them for years before eventually replacing them with other boys.
Their mothers, who also are interviewed in the film, allowed Jackson to spend nights with their sons. They say they had no idea what was happening behind closed doors. Jackson’s fame and wealth clouded their judgment, but they also describe how Jackson spent time grooming the families as well as the boys.
Though Jackson’s own denials of wrongdoing are included in the film, the Jackson estate--which still has many millions of dollars on the line--is suing HBO, which is airing the film on March 3rd and 4th. The estate asserts that Jackson was innocent, pointing to his 2005 acquittal on 14 counts related to child molestation.
Documentary filmmaker Dan Reed has done projects about difficult topics--including terrorism--before, but nothing quite like this. He tells us how he made this unflinching film, and what he hopes will happen once it’s released.