Child abuse allegations in Leaving Neverland prompt cartoons makers to act

Al Jean

An episode of The Simpsons featuring Michael Jacksons voice has been pulled by its producers after a powerful documentary accused the star of sexually abusing two men when they were children.

The HBO documentary Leaving Neverland, which was shown on Channel 4 this week, featured James Safechuck and Wade Robson who claimed they were sexually abused by Jackson.

The singer featured in the Stark Raving Dad Simpsons episode which aired in 1991, but his involvement was only confirmed years later. Jackson voiced Leon Kompowsky, who meets Homer in a psychiatric hospital, where he claims to be the pop star and does the moonwalk.

Producers of The Simpsons have decided to remove the episode from streaming services and TV channels which broadcast the show, with executive producer James L Brooks saying it was the only choice to make.

Fellow executive producers Matt Groening and Al Jean agreed with the decision, Brooks said, telling the Wall Street Journal: The guys I work with where we spend our lives arguing over jokes were of one mind on this.

This was a treasured episode. There are a lot of great memories we have wrapped up in that one, and this certainly doesnt allow them to remain.

He added: Im against book-burning of any kind. But this is our book, and were allowed to take out a chapter.

Jacksons family have denied the allegations against the singer and denounced the documentary.

The estate claimed that, by showing Leaving Neverland, HBO was violating a non-disparagement clause from a 1992 contract.

On Thursday, an Australian radio network pulled Jacksons music from its airwaves. The Nova Entertainment Company, which counts easy-listening station Smooth FM among its stable, became the first Australian company to take action after the accusations were broadcast in the documentary on Sunday.

At least three radio stations in Canada, one in the Netherlands, as well as New Zealands public broadcaster RNZ and its major commercial rivals Mediaworks and NZME also said they would stop playing the artists music.

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