James L. Brooks, the animated comedy’s longtime executive producer, told The Wall Street Journal in an article published Thursday that “it feels clearly the only choice to make” following allegations of child sexual abuse reprised against the singer in HBO’s new documentary “Leaving Neverland.”
Brooks said the four-hour documentary, directed by British filmmaker Dan Reed, “gave evidence of monstrous behavior.”
“This was a treasured episode,” Brooks added of “The Simpsons” show. “There are a lot of great memories we have wrapped up in that one, and this certainly doesn’t allow them to remain. I’m against book burning of any kind. But this is our book, and we’re allowed to take out a chapter.”
Brooks said he made the decision with “The Simpsons” creator Matt Groening and showrunner Al Jean after watching the HBO film, which Jackson’s family has called “a public lynching.”
Jackson, who died in 2009, voiced the character of a psychiatric patient called Leon Kompowsky (who thinks he is Michael Jackson), who meets Homer Simpson for the episode.
Groening confirmed in 2018 that the character’s birthday serenade of Lisa Simpson was performed by a sound-alike, in front of Jackson, due to contractual issues.
This article has been updated to note that the New York-themed episode has since been reinstated into syndication.
Need help? Visit RAINN’s National Sexual Assault Online Hotline or the National Sexual Violence Resource Center’s website.