7:10am PT by Evan Real
Oprah Winfrey to Interview Michael Jackson Accusers in 'Leaving Neverland' Special
Oprah Winfrey will interview Michael Jackson accusers Wade Robson and James Safechuck in a TV special that will air after the premiere of HBO's upcoming documentary Leaving Neverland.
The special, titled Oprah Winfrey Presents: After Neverland, will be taped before an audience that includes survivors of sexual abuse. The one-hour special will air simultaneously on HBO and OWN on March 4 at 10 p.m. immediately following the second and final part of the two-night Leaving Neverland.
Leaving Neverland follows Robson and Safechuck as they recount childhood abuse they claim to have suffered at the hands of Jackson. Last week, HBO unveiled the doc's first trailer, in which both men explain how their experiences with the late pop superstar — who passed away in 2009 at age 50 — have affected them.
"Secrets will eat you up," Safechuck said of the details about his relationship with Jackson that he previously kept quiet. "You feel so alone."
Dancer and choreographer Robson — best known for his work with Britney Spears and 'N Sync, among other pop acts — adds, "[Jackson] told me if they ever found out what we were doing, he and I would go to jail for the rest of our lives."
Robson defended Jackson in court during the singer's infamous 2005 child molestation case, but the Australia native says in the trailer that he wasn't telling the truth in his testimony. "I want to be able to speak the truth as loud as I had to speak the lie for so long," Robson, now 36, explains.
After Leaving Neverland's debut in January at the Sundance Film Festival, Jackson's estate called the four-hour film "a tabloid character assassination" and insisted it "isn't a documentary," while his family called director Dan Reed and the film's two accusers "opportunists."
Jackson's estate has since filed a $100 million lawsuit against HBO and its parent company, Time Warner, claiming that the network has violated a non-disparagement clause from a 1992 contract, which was written up after HBO aired one of Jackson's concerts.
HBO last week issued a statement, staying firm on its plans to premiere the documentary. "Despite the desperate lengths taken to undermine the film, our plans remain unchanged," read the statement. "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."