6:20pm PT by Katie Kilkenny
'Simpsons' Episode Guest-Starring Michael Jackson Pulled From Circulation
The Simpsons' top creatives have decided to remove an episode featuring the voice of Michael Jackson from streaming platforms, networks re-running the show and forthcoming physical copies such as box sets, The Hollywood Reporter has confirmed.
Executive producer James L. Brooks, creator Matt Groening and showrunner Al Jean collectively made the decision to pull the episode "Stark Raving Dad" from recirculation after they watched the HBO documentary Leaving Neverland, which alleges child sexual abuse on the part of the "Bad" singer. The Wall Street Journal was the first to report the news. 20th Century Fox declined comment.
"It feels clearly the only choice to make,” Brooks told The Wall Street Journal. "The guys I work with — where we spend our lives arguing over jokes — were of one mind on this."
The episode, the premiere of the animated series' third season, aired in 1991, featured Jackson playing Leon Kompowsky, a man who believes he is Michael Jackson. Homer Simpson meets Kompowsky in a mental institution where he is briefly committed; because he does not know Michael Jackson, he believes Kompowsky is the real deal, and when he returns home with his new friend, all of Springfield shows up to see the pop star. Jackson, a fan of the show, offered to guest star and was originally credited under the pseudonym "John Jay Smith." While Jackson spoke his character's lines, a voice double sang for him.
As of Thursday night, the episode still remained available to view on the FXX streaming platform. Brooks noted to the Journal that “this was a treasured episode. There are a lot of great memories we have wrapped up in that one, and this certainly doesn’t allow them to remain.”
Leaving Neverland features the testimony of Wade Robson and James Safechuck, two men who met Jackson and spent time with him as boys. The men and their families allege that Jackson groomed the boys for sexual abuse, showed them pornography and repeatedly told them not to tell others about their encounters.
Since Leaving Neverland debuted on HBO on Sunday and Monday nights to a sizable documentary audience for the channel, Canadian radio stations have removed Jackson songs from their playlists and a Jackson statue was removed from Britain's National Football Museum.