'The Simpsons' producers pull 1991 Michael Jackson episode in response to 'Leaving Neverland'

The executive producer of “The Simpsons” says a 1991 episode featuring a character voiced by Michael Jackson will be permanently shelved in response to the HBO documentary “Leaving Neverland.”

“It feels clearly the only choice to make,” James L. Brooks told The Wall Street Journal.

Brooks told the paper that though he went into the film wanting to believe that Jackson was innocent, he came away convinced that “the documentary gave evidence of monstrous behavior.”

The decision comes amid a continuing reassessment of Jackson’s legacy following comprehensive accusations of child sexual abuse made in the documentary “Leaving Neverland.” The four-hour documentary details the accounts of Wade Robson and James Safechuck, who say Michael Jackson sexually assaulted them over several years beginning when they were young boys.

Related: Michael Jackson Neverland 

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Michael Jackson Neverland
LOS OLIVOS, CA - JULY 08: General view of the front gate at Neverland Ranch on July 8, 2009 in Los Olivos, California. (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - JANUARY 27: Aerial view of Neverland Ranch, once the home of famed singer Michael Jackson, in the Santa Ynez Valley of Santa Barbara County, California (Photo by Carol M. Highsmith/Buyenlarge/Getty Images)
TODAY -- Pictured: Neverland Ranch-- NBC News' Matt Lauer gets an exclusive behind-the-scenes of Neverland Ranch, where Michael Jackson lived for 15 years, getting a rare look inside the private world of the King of Pop (Photo by Trae Patton/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
TODAY -- Pictured: Inside Neverland Ranch -- NBC News' Matt Lauer gets an exclusive behind-the-scenes of Neverland Ranch, where Michael Jackson lived for 15 years, getting a rare look inside the private world of the King of Pop (Photo by Trae Patton/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
TODAY -- Pictured: Inside Neverland Ranch -- NBC News' Matt Lauer gets an exclusive behind-the-scenes of Neverland Ranch, where Michael Jackson lived for 15 years, getting a rare look inside the private world of the King of Pop (Photo by Trae Patton/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
TODAY -- Pictured: Inside Neverland Ranch -- NBC News' Matt Lauer gets an exclusive behind-the-scenes of Neverland Ranch, where Michael Jackson lived for 15 years, getting a rare look inside the private world of the King of Pop (Photo by Trae Patton/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
TODAY -- Pictured: Inside Neverland Ranch -- NBC News' Matt Lauer gets an exclusive behind-the-scenes of Neverland Ranch, where Michael Jackson lived for 15 years, getting a rare look inside the private world of the King of Pop (Photo by Trae Patton/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
TODAY -- Pictured: Inside Neverland Ranch -- NBC News' Matt Lauer gets an exclusive behind-the-scenes of Neverland Ranch, where Michael Jackson lived for 15 years, getting a rare look inside the private world of the King of Pop (Photo by Trae Patton/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
TODAY -- Pictured: Neverland Ranch-- NBC News' Matt Lauer gets an exclusive behind-the-scenes of Neverland Ranch, where Michael Jackson lived for 15 years, getting a rare look inside the private world of the King of Pop (Photo by Trae Patton/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
TODAY -- Pictured: Neverland Ranch-- NBC News' Matt Lauer gets an exclusive behind-the-scenes of Neverland Ranch, where Michael Jackson lived for 15 years, getting a rare look inside the private world of the King of Pop (Photo by Trae Patton/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
TODAY -- Pictured: Inside Neverland Ranch -- NBC News' Matt Lauer gets an exclusive behind-the-scenes of Neverland Ranch, where Michael Jackson lived for 15 years, getting a rare look inside the private world of the King of Pop (Photo by Trae Patton/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
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The Jackson estate opposes the documentary, calling it “the kind of tabloid character assassination Michael Jackson endured in life, and now in death.” The estate is suing HBO for $100 million, accusing the network of violating a non-disparagement clause included in an agreement to air Jackson’s Dangerous World Tour live back in 1992.

Brooks told The Wall Street Journal that the reason the episode wasn’t shelved sooner is because Jackson was acquitted in his 2005 sexual abuse trial, and that the documentary convinced him. He said also that the “The Simpsons” production team was “of one mind on this.”

The third season episode, “Stark Raving Dad,” features Jackson as the voice of a man in a mental institution who believes he is Michael Jackson. For contractual reasons, Jackson wasn’t credited when the episode originally aired, but his participation was confirmed several years later.

Fox Television, which distributes “The Simpsons,” did not immediately respond to a request for comment from TheWrap.

 

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