With one of the most popular entertainers of all time as part of its subject matter, HBO's lawsuit-attracting Leaving Neverland has been a controversial release to say the least. Its two-night telecast on HBO is now complete, but it's obvious that the reverberations are still in full effect. Rather than talking about new and less testy topics, filmmaker Dan Reed wants to keep highlighting Michael Jackson's accusers, and has revealed his idea for a Leaving Neverland sequel.
The current HBO Films documentary is about Michael Jackson's lesser-known accusers Wade Robson and James Safechuck, and Dan Reed says he'd possibly be down with following it up if he could get in contact with Jordan "Jordy" Chandler and Gavin Arvizo, the two then-youths respectively at the center of Jackson's 1993 molestation allegations and Jackson's 2005 court case. Here's how Reed put it to Business Insider:
Wade and James' story hadn't been explored until now, but they didn't make allegations when Jackson was alive. So they never felt the brunt of the attack machine of the Jacksons. Jordan Chandler and Gavin Arvizo, they felt the full force of that.
Wade Robson and James Safechuck definitely now know what it means to have Michael Jackson's family and estate accusing them of all manner of wrongdoing in connection with their accusations. The two men faced criticisms and attacks on their character even before the documentary premiered at Sundance earlier this year.
However, their after-the-fact experiences were quite different from those of Jordan Chandler and Gavin Arvizo. If the latter pair's stories would indeed get depicted through another Leaving Neverland-esque documentary, it would put the spotlight back on two of the most highly publicized criminal investigations in modern history.
Back in 1992, Michael Jackson befriended Jordan "Jordy" Chandler and his family, though the boy's father Evan Chandler would eventually be the one to make the molestation claims official. The complicated case, which also shined a light on Jackson's prescription medication addictions, was eventually ended with an out-of-court settlement in the early weeks of 1994, with around $23 million being paid out. No admissions of wrongdoing were made on Jackson's part. (This is the first trial where Wade Robson testified on Jackson's behalf.)
Then, in June 2003, the ITV documentary Living with Michael Jackson aired, bringing the public's attention to Gavin Arvizo, a boy in cancer remission who'd befriended Jackson in 2000, and who could be seen talking about sleeping in the same bed as Jackson in the TV special. The investigation was reopened by District Attorney Thomas Sneddon, who spent two years building his case before it went to trial in 2005.
The widely publicized trial was noteworthy in many ways, not the least of which being that Wade Robson also testified on Michael Jackson's behalf, as did child star Macaulay Culkin. In the end, the jury gave a verdict of not guilty on all molestation charges, as well as several others, such as conspiracy involving child abduction.
As Leaving Neverland hinted at it, Dan Reed believes the possibility that there was a massive cover-up to hide Michael Jackson's alleged pedophile nature from the outside world. Here's how he put it:
The mechanics of the cover-up is what really interests me. How did it really happen that this guy that we now know was a pedophile hiding in plain sight, how did he get away with it for so long? Who were the people who were part of allowing this crime to go unpunished for so long? There is an inside story that should be told.
Note that no plans are currently in place to get Jordy Chandler or Gavin Arvizo involved with a Leaving Neverland sequel, and they have not been in contact with Dan Reed at this time. The sequel idea is just that, an idea, and could very well go without ever getting made.
Of course, if Dan Reed does attempt to bring Chandler and Arvizo back into the public eye for more Michael Jackson accusations, the backlash might be even larger than it was for Leaving Neverland.
Both parts of Leaving Neverland have now aired, but you can catch up with them on HBO Go and HBO Now, as well as repeat airings throughout the TV midseason on the network proper.