In Depth

The Simpsons producers pull Michael Jackson episode

Child abuse allegations in Leaving Neverland prompt cartoon’s makers to act

An episode of The Simpsons featuring Michael Jackson’s voice has been pulled by the show’s producers following the broadcast of an HBO documentary into sexual abuse allegations against the singer.

The long-running cartoon featured Jackson in 1991, during its third series, in an episode titled Stark Raving Dad. The singer voiced a character in a psychiatric ward who believed he was the pop star.

Producers of The Simpsons announced they have decided to remove the episode from streaming services and TV channels which broadcast the show, with executive producer James L. Brooks telling The Wall Street Journal it was “the only choice to make”.

Fellow executive producers Matt Groening and Al Jean agreed with the decision, Brooks said, telling the newspaper: “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 doesn’t allow them to remain.”

He added: “I’m against book-burning of any kind. But this is our book, and we’re allowed to take out a chapter.”

In the documentary, Leaving Neverland, two men, James Safechuck and Wade Robson, say they were befriended by the so-called King of Pop and abused from the ages of 7 and 10 respectively in the early 1990s.

It “prompted a mixture of horror and disbelief when it ran on US cable channel HBO on Sunday and Monday”, says ABC News.

Jackson’s 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”, reports The Guardian.

It is not the first time The Simpsons has removed one of its episodes from circulation. Following the 9/11 terror attacks the producers pulled the 1997 episode titled The City of New York vs Homer Simpson.

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