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The battle over HBO’s Michael Jackson documentary, Leaving Neverland, explained

The film could change how we think about the pop icon.

The Robson family, as seen in HBO’s Leaving Neverland, with Michael Jackson.
The Robson family, as seen in HBO’s Leaving Neverland, with Michael Jackson.

Two men have accused Michael Jackson of sexually abusing them as children in a devastating new HBO documentary. In Leaving Neverland, Wade Robson and James Safechuck say they were manipulated and abused by a man they worshipped — a man they loved. It’s much more detailed than anything we’ve ever seen or heard about Jackson allegedly abusing kids before, and it could change the way we think about the music legend.

Now, the Michael Jackson estate is suing HBO for potentially more than $100 million over the documentary, in part because the film’s director, Dan Reed, never reached out to the estate for comment.

We talked with Reed and Jonathan Steinsapir, a lawyer for Jackson’s estate, on the latest episode of Today, Explained. It’s Steinsapir’s first extended broadcast interview in response to the film.

You can listen to the full episode here, or on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, or Google Play.

The second part of Leaving Neverland airs Monday, March 4, on HBO.

Learn more:

Leaving Neverland makes a devastating case against Michael Jackson, by Vox’s Alissa Wilkinson

The Michael Jackson estate airs rare concert films to try to distract from Leaving Neverland, by Vox’s Aja Romano

What do we do when the art we love was created by a monster? by Vox’s Constance Grady

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