The estate of Michael Jackson continued its fight against HBO and its new documentary “Leaving Neverland” on Thursday, suing the cable network for violating the terms of an agreement HBO had with Jackson dating back to 1992.
The estate is seeking damages that it say could exceed more than $100 million.
In the lawsuit, the estate says that with the “Leaving Neverland” documentary, HBO has violated a non-disparagement clause that was part of an agreement the two sides had that granted HBO the right to air Jackson’s Dangerous World Tour live.
“HBO breached its agreement not to disparage Michael Jackson by producing and selling to the public a one-sided marathon of unvetted propaganda to shamelessly exploit an innocent man no longer here to defend himself,” the estate’s attorney Howard Weitzman said in a statement. “HBO could have and should have ensured that ‘Leaving Neverland’ was properly sourced, fact checked and a fair and balanced representation. Instead they chose to fund and produce a film where they knew the two subjects had for many years testified under oath and told family, friends and law enforcement that Mr. Jackson did nothing inappropriate to either of them.
“Leaving Neverland,” which is set to premiere on HBO on Sunday, March 3, is a four-hour documentary by director Dan Reed that features detailed accounts from two men, Wade Robson and James Safechuck, who say Jackson molested them when they were underage boys. The film premiered during the 2019 Sundance Film Festival last month, and the screening required extra security amid fears that protesters would try to disrupt the film.
The Jackson estate has vehemently opposed the documentary, calling it “the kind of tabloid character assassination Michael Jackson endured in life, and now in death.”
by Trey Williams