Al Jean says he "strongly" believes Michael Jackson used his classic — and now pulled — cameo in Season 3 of "The Simpsons" to "groom boys".
The Simpsons showrunner spoke in detail to The Daily Beast about Jackson's Stark Raving Dad guest role in 1991, telling the publication at South by Southwest (SXSW), "It wasn't just a comedy to [Jackson], it was something that was used as a tool."
Below are the relevant excerpts from the wide-ranging interview, which readers can find in full here.
Daily Beast: The very first episode of Season 3, Stark Raving Dad, featuring the voice of Michael Jackson made some news recently when it was revealed that you decided to remove the episode after watching the Jackson documentary Leaving Neverland. That must have been a difficult decision for you, seeing as you wrote it and it was your first episode at the reins. Al Jean: Yes. It wasn't something that makes me happy. It's something I agree with completely. What saddens me is, if you watch that documentary–which I did, and several of us here did–and you watch that episode, honestly, it looks like the episode was used by Michael Jackson for something other than what we'd intended it. It wasn't just a comedy to him, it was something that was used as a tool. And I strongly believe that. That, to me, is my belief, and it's why I think removing it is appropriate. I lose a little bit of money financially, it's not something that's great personally to lose one of the most successful things I ever did, but I totally think it's the right move. I don't believe in going through and making judgements on every guest star and saying "this one was bad, that one was bad," but the episode itself has a false purpose, and that's what I object to about it now.
UNITED STATES - FEBRUARY 27: Madonna and Michael Jackson 1991 (Photo by Vinnie Zuffante/Getty Images)
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SANTA MARIA, UNITED STATES: Entertainer Michael Jackson arrives at the Santa Barbara County Courthouse for his child molestation trial in Santa Maria, California 12 May, 2005. Jackson's defense team is in a strong position after 'Home Alone' star Macaulay Culkin told jurors 11 May he was outraged by claims Jackson had fondled him. But the 24-year-old actor did admit on Wednesday that he had shared Jackson's bed when he visited the superstar's Neverland ranch in the early 1990s. AFP PHOTO/POOL/Reed Saxon (Photo credit should read REED SAXON/AFP/Getty Images)
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US pop star and entertainer Michael Jackson performing during a concert in Paris on September 13, 1992
Pop star Michael Jackson (C) waves to fans next to his father Joe ( R), on leaving the Santa Barbara County Superior Court, in Santa Maria. Jurors in Jackson's child molestation trial heard Thursday fingerprint analysis of adult magazines found in his home was not completed until long after they were seized. Jackson is accused of molesting a boy at his Neverland ranch in 2003. (Photo by Kimberly White/Corbis via Getty Images)
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FILE - In this Dec. 3, 1984 photo, Michael Jackson performs with his brothers at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, as part of their Victory Tour concert. The Michael Jackson estate has sent a letter to the U.K.'s Channel 4 warning that a documentary on men who accuse the singer of molesting them as boys violates the network's programming guidelines. Estate attorneys say in the letter released to The Associated Press on Monday, Feb. 11, 2019, that "Leaving Neverland," includes no response from Jackson defenders as the channel's guidelines require. (AP Photo/Doug Pizac, File)
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DB: And the false purpose was what?
AJ: I think it was part of what he used to groom boys. I really don't know, and I should be very careful because this is not something I know personally, but as far as what I think, that's what I think. And that makes me very, very sad.
Last week, fellow Simpsons executive producer James L. Brooks said the episode featuring Jackson will be permanently shelved.
"It feels clearly the only choice to make," Brooks told the The Wall Street Journal.
Brooks told the Journal that though he went into Leaving Neverland wanting to believe that Jackson was innocent, he came away convinced that "the documentary gave evidence of monstrous behaviour."
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.
The Jackson estate the called documentary "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, but 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.