Oprah Winfrey knows what she's getting herself into.
The media mogul admitted that she's prepared for some backlash with her new special, After Neverland, an interview with two men who have accusedMichael Jackson of sexually abusing them when they were young boys. During the show's taping on Wednesday at the New York Times Center, she told the audience that she was aware of the controversy she was walking into.
“I’m gonna get it,” Winfrey said, per Variety. The talk show host also argued, however, that the issue of sexual abuse is too important to remain silent, despite how much it may anger fans of Jackson's.
“This movie transcends Michael Jackson,” she told the crowd, which consisted of more than 100 abuse survivors. “It allows us to see societal corruption.”
According to Variety, Winfrey made it clear during the taping that she believesJackson accusers Wade Robson and James Safechuck, who joined her on stage. The director of HBO's Leaving Neverland documentary, Dan Reed, was also present at the program, which will air on March 4.
“Beware of people who just want to be around your children,” Winfrey said during the taping. Leaving Neverland has been met with pushback from the Jackson family and the singer's estate, which has issued strong rebukes of the film to ET, calling it a “lurid production.”
“This so-called ‘documentary’ is just another rehash of dated and discredited allegations,” their statement read. “It’s baffling why any credible filmmaker would involve himself with this project.”
The estate also filed a $100 million lawsuit against HBO in February, claiming the network violated a non-disparagement clause in a 1992 contract it had with Jackson and that the documentary is nothing but “unvetted propaganda to shamelessly exploit an innocent man no longer here to defend himself.”
In Leaving Neverland, Safechuck and Robson -- now married adults with sons of their own -- allege they engaged in sexual relationships with Jackson that started when both were underage, 10 and 7 years old, respectively. In on-camera interviews, they recall how they each first met the music icon and later, became closer and closer with him.
While Safechuck and Robson previously testified in Jackson’s defense during a 1993 civil suit, both express regrets in the HBO documentary for that decision, and have since come forward with their own allegations of extended abuse. Robson was also served a subpoena and testified at Jackson’s 2003 criminal case.