The executive producer of “The Simpsons” says a 1991 episode featuring a character voiced by Michael Jackson will be permanently shelved in response to the HBO documentary “Leaving Neverland.”
“It feels clearly the only choice to make,” James L. Brooks told the The Wall Street Journal.
Brooks told the Journal that though he went into the film wanting to believe that Jackson was innocent, he came away convinced that “the documentary gave evidence of monstrous behavior.”
The four-hour documentary details the accounts of Wade Robson and James Safechuck, who say Michael Jackson sexually assaulted them over several years beginning when they were young boys.
The Jackson estate called the documentary “the kind of tabloid character assassination Michael Jackson endured in life, and now in death.” The estate is suing HBO for $100 million, accusing the network of violating a non-disparagement clause included in an agreement to air Jackson’s Dangerous World Tour live back in 1992.
Brooks told The Wall Street Journal that the reason the episode wasn’t shelved sooner is because Jackson was acquitted in his 2005 sexual abuse trial, but that the documentary convinced him. He said also that the “The Simpsons” production team was “of one mind on this.”
The third season episode, “Stark Raving Dad,” features Jackson as the voice of a man in a mental institution who believes he is Michael Jackson. For contractual reasons, Jackson wasn’t credited when the episode originally aired, but his participation was confirmed several years later.
Fox Television, which distributes “The Simpsons,” did not immediately respond to a request for comment from TheWrap.