The Simpsons boss Al Jean has spoken up about the decision to remove the show's Michael Jackson-centric episode from streaming and syndication.
Following the debut of HBO's disturbing Leaving Neverland documentary, in which James Safechuck and Wade Robson detailed their allegations that they were sexually abused as children by Jackson, Jean joined with Simpsons creators Matt Groening and James L. Brooks in an announcement that they would be pulling an episode that centered on the late pop star.
In the Season 3 premiere episode, titled "Stark Raving Dad," Jackson made a guest appearance as the voice of the character Leon Kompowsky, a mental institution patient who claims to be Jackson. The trio of Simpsons creatives unanimously decided to archive the episode; Brooks told The Wall Street Journal that it was "the only choice to make."
The 10 Saddest and Most Shocking Michael Jackson Revelations in Leaving Neverland
Now, Jean is elaborating on the group's decision to remove "Stark Raving Dad" from Simpsons World and from all future airings. In an interview with The Daily Beast, the showrunner said he suspects Jackson may have used his episode of the show to "groom boys."
"If you watch [Leaving Neverland] -- which I did, and several of us here did -- and you watch that episode, honestly, it looks like the episode was used by Michael Jackson for something other than what we'd intended it," Jean told The Daily Beast. "It wasn't just a comedy to him, it was something that was used as a tool."
"I think it was part of what he used to groom boys," Jean continued. "I really don't know, and I should be very careful because this is not something I know personally, but as far as what I think, that's what I think. And that makes me very, very sad."
The allegations in Leaving Neverland have been disputed by Jackson's estate, which is suing HBO. The estate released a lengthy statement in response to the documentary in January, calling it "the kind of tabloid character assassination Michael Jackson endured in life, and now in death. The film takes uncorroborated allegations that supposedly happened 20 years ago and treats them as fact. These claims were the basis of lawsuits filed by these two admitted liars which were ultimately dismissed by a judge. The two accusers testified under oath that these events never occurred. They have provided no independent evidence and absolutely no proof in support of their accusations, which means the entire film hinges solely on the word of two perjurers."
Leaving Neverland is available for streaming at HBO. The Simpsons airs on Sundays at 8/7c on Fox.
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