“Leaving Neverland”, the controversial two-part documentary featuring two men accusing late King of Pop Michael Jackson of sexually abusing them as children, got more eyeballs in the UK than in the US.
The film, directed by “The Paedophile Hunter” director Dan Reed, peaked with 2.4 million viewers and won the slot for 16-34 viewers with a 20.5 per cent share as Channel 4 broadcast it, reported deadline.com.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, the broadcast of the first part of the documentary on HBO in the US, drew 1.29 million viewers, the third largest audience for a HBO documentary this decade. The second instalment pulled in 927,000 viewers.
There have been serious repercussions of the documentary as an Australian radio station joined three in Canada and two in New Zealand to pull out MJ songs, and Manchester’s National Football Museum removed his statue.
MJ’s nephew Taj Jackson says his uncle would be “crying” over the allegations made by Wade Robson and James Safechuck in the “Leaving Neverland” documentary.
Taj said the allegations are “hurtful” but believes they won’t have a lasting effect on the singer’s legacy.
“I think it’s temporary in terms of the stain. First of all I believe the truth will come out,” he told a radio channel, reported BBC.
Meanwhile, fans of Michael Jackson gathered outside Channel 4’s London headquarters to protest the broadcaster’s move. His supporters have called the documentary an unjustified smear on the singer’s reputation.
Defending its decision to air the documentary, Channel 4 said that showing “Leaving Neverland” was in the public interest and that viewers could reach their own conclusions.
According to The Guardian, Michael Jackson’s estate is now engaged in a campaign of adverts, lawsuits and interviews in an attempt to salvage his image after the documentary’s screening.
Jackson’s estate – which has made $2.1 billion since his death in 2009 and is run by John McClain, a co-executor with Jackson’s former lawyer John Branca – originally tried to block the release of the documentary by contacting Channel 4 and issuing a $100 million lawsuit against HBO, which broadcast the film last weekend in the US.
The estate said the documentary is “the kind of tabloid character assassination Michael Jackson endured in life, and now in death”, and added that “the film takes uncorroborated allegations that supposedly happened 20 years ago and treats them as fact”.