Oprah Winfrey is set to interview Wade Robson and James Safechuck, the two subjects of HBO’s forthcoming Leaving Neverland documentary who say they were abused by Michael Jackson as children. The interviews will air in a special presentation called Oprah Winfrey Presents: After Neverland on HBO and the Oprah Winfrey Network on Monday, March 4, at 10 p.m. ET. In addition to her interviews with the two subjects, Winfrey will also speak to Leaving Neverland director Dan Reed about the project.
Leaving Neverland is set to air on HBO in two parts on March 3 and 4. It follows the stories of the two men, now in their 30s, as Jackson formed relationships with them and their families when they were boys and allegedly sexually abused them. The highly anticipated documentary debuted at the Sundance Film Festival in January and has prompted both widespread praise and criticism.
The Jackson Estate has issued multiple statements decrying the alleged victims as “perjurers” and the documentary as “sensationalist.” The estate has also filed a lawsuit against HBO demanding that the channel not do anything to hurt Jackson’s reputation. Reed responded to the estate’s criticism in an interview with Tatiana Siegel of THR last month, saying, “They have a very precious asset to protect. Every time a song plays, a cash register goes ‘ka-ching.’ It doesn’t surprise me that they’ve come out fighting in defense of their asset.” Reed maintains that the film is less about Jackson himself than an account of the different forms sexual assault can take and the lasting impact it can have on survivors’ lives.
The BBC has also just announced a new documentary to rival Leaving Neverland titled Michael Jackson: The Rise and Fall. It’s set to be a “reappraisal” of the pop superstar’s legacy 10 years on from his death. The program will be hosted by investigative journalist and Jackson historian Jacques Peretti, and will air on BBC Two later this year.
It remains unclear whether the Jackson family plans to respond directly to the airing of Leaving Neverland this weekend or Oprah’s subsequent interview with its subjects. The documentary’s first installment premieres on HBO on Sunday, March 3, at 8 p.m. EST. Watch the trailer below and see everything coming to HBO in March here.