Leaving Neverland Aftermath: All of the Backlash Against Michael Jackson Since Documentary Aired Alleging Abuse of Boys
Jackson's Estate Cancels Plans for Jukebox Musical
Three weeks after the documentary screened at the Sundance Film Festival, Jackson’s estate announced on Feb. 14 that it was canceling a planned Chicago tryout of a new jukebox musical about him.
The estate and its producing partner, Columbia Live Stage, said that they would try to bring the musical — titled “Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough” — straight to Broadway in 2020 instead due to “scheduling difficulties,” according to The New York Times.
Neverland Ranch Goes on Sale
In February, Jackson’s estate relisted his 2,700-acre Neverland Ranch (now renamed Sycamore Valley Ranch) at a new asking price of $31 million, nearly $70 million less than its original listing from 2015.
Neverland Ranch was first purchased by the King of Pop in 1987 for $19.5 million and remained his home for 15 years.
After Jackson died in 2009, his estate and the fund manager put up the Los Olivos, California estate for $100 million six years later.
Since then, his family has struggled to sell the property.
Radio Stations Pull Songs from Their Playlists
Three major Canadian radio stations in Montreal pulled Jackson’s music from airplay after the documentary aired on HBO on March 3 and 4, according to Variety.
“We are attentive to the comments of our listeners, and the documentary released on Sunday evening created reactions,” a spokesperson for Cogeco Media, which owns the three stations — CKOI, Rythme and The Beat — told the outlet. “We prefer to observe the situation by removing the songs from our stations, for the time being.”
Two radio stations in New Zealand, MediaWorks and NXME, also dropped Jackson’s music, according to Billboard.
Music Sales Drop
Sales for Jackson’s albums and songs as a whole, including both his solo work and his time with Jackson 5 and The Jacksons, dropped four percent in the wake of the documentary’s premiere, while his combined sales for March 3-5 also dropped from the previous week, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
In addition, on-demand audio and video streams dropped by five percent, with radio airplay falling to 13 percent, the outlet reported.
Corey Feldman Speaks Out
Although the former child star was friends with Jackson, he said during an appearance on CNN’s Headline News on March 6 that he could no longer defend the late singer in wake of the allegations made against him in the documentary.
“I don’t want to be perceived as I’m here to defend Michael Jackson, because I can no longer do that,” Feldman said. “I can not in good consciousness defend anyone who’s being accused of such horrendous things.
He added: “But at the same time, I’m also not here to judge him, because again, he did not do those things to me and that was not my experience.”
British Museum Removes Statue
A statue of Jackson was removed from the National Football Museum in Manchester, England on March 7, according to CNN.
The soccer museum, which had displayed the statue since 2014, told the outlet in a statement: “The National Football Museum has made a number of changes to its exhibitions and the objects on display over the last few months.”
“As part of our ongoing plans to better represent the stories we want to tell, we have made a decision to remove the Michael Jackson statue from display,” the statement continued.
The Simpsons Pull Episode
Top creatives from the long-running Fox animated series — including creator Matt Groening, executive producer James L. Brooks, and showrunner Al Jean — all collectively agreed to remove the episode from re-runs, streaming platforms, and even upcoming DVD/Blu-ray box sets, The Wall Street Journal reported.
“It feels clearly the only choice to make,” Brooks told the outlet. “The guys I work with — where we spend our lives arguing over jokes — we’re of one mind on this.”
On the episode, Jackson voiced a character named Leon Kompowsky who believes he’s actually Michael Jackson. Brooks called it “a treasured episode” while speaking to the Journal, but admitted the allegations in the documentary changed that. “There are a lot of great memories we have wrapped up in that one, and this certainly doesn’t allow them to remain,” he said.
LaToya Jackson Interview Resurfaces
During the press conference, which was broadcast by MTV at the time, LaToya alleged that her brother had committed “crimes against small innocent children.”
At the time the comments were made, LaToya was estranged from her family while Jackson was facing accusations of molesting 13-year-old Jordan Chandler. Though Jackson denied the accusations, the case was eventually settled out of court for over $20 million. Police were also investigating various allegations from three other boys, though criminal charges were never filed.
Still, LaToya appeared to believe the claims were true, claiming her mother had shown her hush-money payments in “very very large amounts” made to the youngster’s families.
Years later, LaToya would recant her statements, claiming that she was convinced to make them by her then-husband Jack Gordon.
Louis Vuitton Men's Pulls Jackson-Inspired Clothing
Louis Vuitton’s Fall/Winter 2019 menswear collection drew a lot inspiration from Jackson. From the backdrop (designed to resemble the “Billie Jean” music video set) to the graphic tees (which featured the singer’s infamous high socks and loafers), Jackson’s influence on the men’s artistic director, Virgil Abloh, was highly prevalent.
But since the release of Leaving Neverland, the brand has decided not to produce any of its Jackson-inspired looks from the show. Along with the T-shirt, pieces in the collection featured Jackson’s character from the 1978 film The Wiz. Additionally, some models wore bedazzled white gloves (one of Jackson’s signatures) down the runway.
Both LVMH, the owner of Louis Vuitton, and Abloh, released a statement to WWD about their decision to pull any Jackson-themed items from the line. “I am aware that in light of this documentary the show has caused emotional reactions. I strictly condemn any form of child abuse, violence or infringement against any human rights,” Abloh said in the statement.
Children's Museum Removes Memorabilia
Jackson’s iconic black fedora and signature white sparkle glove — which were purchased several years ago at auction — have been removed from the museum’s American Pop exhibit, representatives from the organization told PEOPLE in a statement.
“As the world’s largest children’s museum, we are more sensitive than most to our audience,” museum representatives said. “In an excess of caution, and in response to the controversy over the HBO film called Leaving Neverland, which directly involved allegations of abuse against children, we removed those objects while we carefully consider the situation more fully.”
Another item, a signed Michael Jackson poster that was on display in The Power of Children exhibit, has also been removed — though some photos of Jackson in that exhibit still remain as a tribute to Ryan White, a boy who died in 1990 of complications related to AIDS.
Jackson Family and Estate Deny All Allegations
Jackson’s family has repeatedly denied all allegations put forth in Leaving Neverland, and said in a January statement the film was “another rehash of dated and discredited allegations,” calling it “yet another lurid production in an outrageous and pathetic attempt to exploit and cash in on Michael Jackson.”
Two co-executors of the singer’s estate and Optimum Productions also sued HBO and its parent company, Time Warner, for $100 million in February, claiming that the network’s decision to air Leaving Neverland violated a non-disparagement clause, according to court documents obtained by PEOPLE.