HBO’s new documentary, Leaving Neverland, tells the story of two men who allege that Michael Jackson molested them when they were children. The film first premiered at the Sundance FIlm Festival in January, and is now coming to HBO for home viewers. Because the film isn’t airing all at once, you may want to know how many parts Leaving Neverland is and when each part premieres on HBO.
Leaving Neverland will air on HBO in two parts, with the first two-hour installment premiering on Sunday, Mar. 3 and the second on Monday, Mar. 4, both at 8 p.m. ET. After Monday, Mar. 4, both parts will be available to stream on HBO NOW, HBO GO, HBO On Demand and other partnered streaming platforms.
According to HBO, the two-part documentary “explores the separate but parallel experiences of two young boys, James “Jimmy” Safechuck, at age ten, and Wade Robson, at age seven, both of whom were befriended by Michael Jackson.” The film features interviews with Safechuck, now 37, and Robson, now 41, as well as their families, along with old photos and videos of the two with Jackson as children. In the film, both Safechuck and Robson allege that they were sexual abused by Jackson for years, and reveal their experiences in graphic detail.
NBC News reported that Jackson’s family and estate have denied the allegations and in a statement following the film’s release, they condemned it as a “public lynching” and a "tabloid character assassination” of the late singer. “Michael is not here to defend himself, otherwise these allegations would not have been made,” the statement says. “He was an easy target because he was unique. But Michael was subjected to a thorough investigation which included a surprise raid of Neverland and other properties as well as a jury trial where Michael was found to be COMPLETELY INNOCENT. There has never been one piece of proof of anything — Michael Jackson was and always will be 100% innocent of these false allegations.”
In the statement, the Jackson Estate referred to Jackson’s 2005 criminal child molestation trial, which ended with his acquittal on all counts after years of investigation and litigation. According to CNN both Robson and Safechuck had previously made sworn statements saying Jackson never molested them. During the 2005 trial, Robson testified in support of Jackson and at the time, Safechuck allegedly told investigators that he was never abused by the singer.
When HBO announced that it would air Leaving Neverland, the Jackson estate sent HBO CEO Richard Plepler a scathing 10-page letter that slammed the network’s decision, reported The Hollywood Reporter. Now, on the heels of the cable TV premiere of Leaving Neverland, the late singer’s estate is suing HBO, citing the breach of a 1992 contract that allowed the network to air “Michael Jackson in Concert in Bucharest: The Dangerous Tour.” The lawsuit claims that by airing the unfavorable documentary, HBO is violating the contract’s non-disparagement clause.
THR also reported that in a statement, HBO defended its decision to air Leaving Neverland. "Despite the desperate lengths taken to undermine the film, our plans remain unchanged," the network wrote. "HBO will move forward with the airing of Leaving Neverland, the two-part documentary, on March 3rd and 4th. This will allow everyone the opportunity to assess the film and the claims in it for themselves."