Scrambling to soften the impact of HBO's Leaving Neverland, which alleges that Michael Jackson sexually abused two children, the late singer's estate has been informing the media of its many concerns about the credibility of the film and its stars, accusers James Safechuck and Wade Robson.
The estate recently provided Billboard with a 24-page working PowerPoint document, titled "Leaving Neverland and the Truth," that questions the accusers' memories and the filmmakers' motives in detail. The estate also attached recent news clips in which the singer's defense attorney, Thomas Mesereau Jr. called the charges "hogwash."
The document, not intended for publication, details what the estate says are dozens of examples in the documentary of bias, inconsistency and footage taken out of context. In the film, for example, Robson says Jackson invited him to sleep in his bed, but "in his deposition," the material states, "he makes clear that he and his sister were the ones who initiated the idea, and that Michael insisted they ask their parents." The film also portrays Jackson wishing Robson a happy birthday in a video "suggesting a creepy, predatory manner," when he recorded numerous similar greetings around the same time, the estate notes. Other concerns: the director "audibly coached" Robson at one point in an interview; the film neglects to mention Robson's attempts to find work with Cirque du Soleil's tribute shows after Jackson's death; and Jackson's defense attorney Mark Geragos appears to be threatening an accuser in a 2005 clip shown in the movie -- but the estate says the clip was pulled from a press conference from unrelated litigation involving a charter-jet company.