HBO’s airing of the documentary Leaving Neverland, which describes in graphic detail allegations of sexual abuse from both Wade Robson and James Safechuck, has elicited a firestorm of responses on Twitter, but none more so than several celebrities who weighed in with their opinions surrounding the controversy.
Stars such as Amber Tamblyn, Rosie O’ Donnell, and Bill Mahr gave their thoughts as the two-part documentary debuted its first episode on March 3. The second and final episode will air tonight, March 4.
Opinion seemed to be split against those who believed both Robson and Safechuck and those who did not believe Jackson could do the things described by both men in the documentary.
Former child star Amber Tamblyn tweeted that children should not “be put in the position of performing for the sole purpose of pleasing adults.” She then noted that that type of behavior was a slippery slope toward abuse.
Bill Mahr did not comment formally on the allegations documented in the film but did praise former HBO boss Richard Plepler for the “riveting” television he produced. The normally outspoken Rosie O’ Donnell commented that the documentary was “haunting” and questioned the boys’ parents by noting that as a mother, she would never leave her 7-year-old son with a grown man.
As a former child actress, I can’t help but watch this documentary and think about how wrong it is for children to be put in the position of performing for the soul purpose of pleasing adults. It’s such a slippery, dangerous, often abusive slope. #LeavingNeverland
— Amber Tamblyn (@ambertamblyn) March 4, 2019
Just watched Neverland doc – riveting, as has been so much on HBO with Richard Plepler at the helm, now resigned. I don't usually speak publicly about the inner workings of the/my biz, but just have to say…best boss I'll ever have.
— Bill Maher (@billmaher) March 4, 2019
michael jackson docu is on now on HBO – haunting …
— ROSIE (@Rosie) March 4, 2019
There were others that defended Jackson against the accusations being leveled at him after he was formally exonerated of any charges of molestation in 2005. The charges came about after Jackson was interviewed by Martin Bashir in 2003, and he remarked that he didn’t think it was unusual to share a bed with a child.
View this post on Instagram
Reposted from @metoomvmt – Leaving Neverland premieres tomorrow night, 8pm on HBO. The two-part documentary explores the separate but parallel experiences of James Safechuck and Wade Robson, who were befriended by Michael Jackson when they were just 10 and 7 years old, respectively. We are glad to be among the network of organizations (@1in6org, @rainn, @childhood.usa, @d2lorg, MOSAC, @safehorizon, @itsonus, @worldchildhoodfoundation) who contributed to the viewing support guide, produced by @HBO. Before watching, please consider reading the guide (the link is in our bio) and creating a personal care plan. Regardless of where you stand, this is an important topic that deserves our attention. We need to talk about men as survivors of sexual abuse. We need to talk about child sexual abuse, grooming, and trauma. We need to show up for each other. #disruptsexualviolence #endsexualabuse #believesurvivors #leavingneverland – #regrann
Taj Jackson, a nephew of the late singer, stated on Twitter that he was angry as his “uncle is not here to defend himself.”
You are right. I’ve been around my uncle only thousands and thousands of hours. And since my uncle is not here to defend himself, the credibility of the accusers matter. And Wade and James have none. https://t.co/fF0OgYXUBz
— Taj Jackson (@tajjackson3) March 4, 2019
I need to know who are the HBO producers behind the documentary. I need to let them know Wade Robson and Jimmy Safechuck are con artist! During My tenure with MJ I never met these dudes and you had to go through me to see MJ. They are LIARS!!
— Bill Whitfield (@MJBODYGUARDS) March 3, 2019
Bill Whitfield, who worked for Jackson, said on the social media site that the young men were “con artists.” Finally, Geraldo Rivera stated in a series of posts that he believed the men were only out to profit from the Michael Jackson estate.
Like virtually all #MichaelJackson accusers #JamesSafechuck & #WadeRobson had horrific stories to tell-except under oath. Both sold their stories after failing in lawsuits vs Jackson estate. Both sold their allegations to tabloids for profit, rather than testify to them in court.
— Geraldo Rivera (@GeraldoRivera) March 4, 2019
The case against Jackson ramped up after the Bashir interview when a housekeeper of the deceased singer revealed in sworn testimony that she saw a then-10-year-old Robson in bed with Jackson, alleging he was naked from the waist up. She also said she believed the two had showered together after seeing Robson’s Spiderman underwear on the bathroom floor, per a 2005 article published by The Los Angeles Times.
View this post on Instagram
Reposted from @anthonykingdancer – The documentary "Leaving Neverland" premieres tonight. I encourage everybody to watch it. If you feel that you don't want to watch it, then please reconsider, to acknowledge and support the victims. I am so proud of them and happy for them! Here are the broadcast times for USA, UK, France and Norway: – United States: HBO Sunday 3rd March and Monday 4th March – United Kingdon: Channel 4 Wednesday 6th March and Thurs 7th March – Norway: NRK TV on Sunday 10th March at 06:00, and NRK 2 at 22.50 – France: M6 Thursday 21st March 21 in the first half of the evening I want to say this to the people who defended, failed to condemn or excused Michael Jackson's behaviour: You degraded the victims of child abuse because you liked the way somebody danced and sang. This was not a passive action, you actively attempted to destroy their reputations because of your defence of somebody that you did not know. You are a selfish and a child abuse defender, in my opinion. I have screen captured every comment, every message, every excuse and every threat. Stay very far away from me. To the individuals who victim shamed and harassed, to the MJ Estate, to the people who had a duty of care to the children around this predator and to the people who turned a blind eye, to the people who remained silent, to his lying cheerleaders, to the people who have sent me death threats and abuse, to his defenders: SHAME ON YOU! Thank you for helping the cause of child welfare around the whole world. Thank you, Terry George, Michael Jacobshagen, Jordan Chandler and Garvin Arvizo. Thank you to the work of long gone "‘Desiree speaks so listen’" to "MJvictims", "MJfacts", Diane Dimond and Thomas W. Sneddon Jr and all the others. Read more on my Facebook and linked on my Twitter account anthonyking1 #LeavingNeverland #MichaelJackson – #regrann
At the time of the trial, Robson denied any impropriety had occurred with Jackson. The singer was charged, per The LA Times report, with four counts of molesting a 13-year-old in 2003, four counts of furnishing alcohol to the boy to aid in a crime, attempted child molestation, and conspiracy. Robson later recanted and filed a lawsuit alleging abuse in 2013 against the Jackson estate.
The second part of Leaving Neverland airs tonight on HBO followed by an Oprah Winfrey special where she will speak to Robson and Safechuck directly.
If you or someone you know has been sexually assaulted, call the National Sexual Assault Telephone Hotline at 800-656-HOPE (4673) or visit rainn.org.