Michael Jackson accusers denounce upcoming biopic

Michael Jackson
Michael Jackson

Even after all the strides of the #MeToo movement, we’ve seen example after perturbing example of exposed predators allowed to simply waltz back into their previously exalted place in society—even posthumously. That’s what’s happening with Michael Jackson, at least according to John C. Carpenter, the attorney representing Wade Robson and James Safechuck, who allege that the “Thriller” singer groomed and assaulted them in his Neverland Ranch compound from the ages of 7 and 10, respectively. Robson and Safechuck—the subjects of HBO’s bombshell 2019 documentary, Leaving Neverland—are currently in the process of taking Jackson estate-owned companies MJJ Productions and MJJ Ventures to court for allegedly enabling their abuse.

While an official court date hasn’t been set yet, the plaintiffs have hit a potential snag. Lionsgate is currently working on Michael, a high-profile Jackson biopic starring the artist’s nephew, Jaafar Jackson, set to premiere in April 2025. While press releases for the film promise a “riveting and honest portrayal of the brilliant yet complicated man,” a leaked screenplay obtained by Puck News and confirmed by Variety says otherwise, at least according to Leaving Neverland director Dan Reed, who called it “startlingly disingenuous.” The film, which is closely tied to the Jackson estate, reportedly follows their position that the singer was innocent and a victim of false accusation.

Carpenter and his team are requesting a trial before the film is released, but the lawyer recently told The Daily Beast that the chances of that happening are “poor—unless the estate changes their tune.” Still, he’s confident that “the truth will prevail” regardless of any changes in public opinion that the film might inspire. “It complicates jury selection, but it’s not insurmountable at all,” he said.

“We just want to get the truth out there as soon as possible... and the sooner we get the truth out, then we don’t have to worry about the propaganda,” Carpenter continued. “Or maybe the movie’s a flop and no one watches it.”

Last month, Reed also voiced his strong objections to the Antoine Fuqua-directed biopic in an op-ed for The Guardian. “To the film-makers, I say: how will you represent the moment when Jackson, a grown man in his 30s, takes a child by the hand and leads him into that bedroom? How will you depict what happens next?” he wrote. “By sidestepping the question of Jackson’s predilection for sleeping with young boys, you are broadcasting a message to millions of survivors of child sexual abuse. That message is: if a pedophile is rich and popular enough, society will forgive him.”