HBO boss Casey Bloys told TheWrap there is “nothing to” a Friday report that HBO is reconsidering its splashy “Leaving Neverland” documentary acquisition. And no, the premium-TV channel is not going to edit the content either.
“There is no hesitation, there are no plans to not air it,” Bloys told TheWrap this afternoon.
“Leaving Neverland” will premiere on Sunday, March 3, as HBO announced between the Showbiz 411 story published and our sitdown conversation with Bloys. The four-hour documentary by Dan Reed features detailed accounts from two men, Wade Robson and James Safechuck, who say Jackson molested them when they were underage boys. The film’s premiere last month during the Sundance Film Festival required extra security amid fears that protesters would try to disrupt the film.
“All I ask of this is that people watch it and judge for themselves,” Bloys said of the film. “I think you will see a very powerful, very moving, disturbing documentary. Once people see it, they can decide for themselves.”
“We’re not dealing with any legal issues or concerns,” Bloys answered when we asked about such possible ramifications. “It’s going to air and we have not edited it.”
And, yes, the documentary has passed muster with Bloys’ legal department.
“We have a very, very experienced legal team,” he told us. “This has been vetted.”
The Jackson estate has been extremely critical of the doc, calling it “blatantly one-sided,” and referring to both Robson and Safechuck by name as “admitted liars.”
“This is yet another lurid production in an outrageous and pathetic attempt to exploit and cash in on Michael Jackson,” the estate said last month, in a statement. “Wade Robson and James Safechuck have both testified under oath that Michael never did anything inappropriate toward them. This so called ‘documentary’ is just another rehash of dated and discredited allegations. It’s baffling why any credible filmmaker would involve himself with this project.”
Although “Leaving Neverland” prompted a harsh response from Jackson’s estate and his fans since its premiere, Reed says his documentary isn’t meant to be about the late pop star, but rather about his two sexual assault accusers.
“That’s not the story we’re telling,” Reed told TheWrap’s Steve Pond at Sundance. “We’re telling the story of the sexual abuse of James Safechuck and Wade Robson, which is a story that they know and that their families know because now it’s come out and that their families are in a position to talk about.”