They List A Previous Contract As A Reason To Sue
The Michael Jackson estate is not playing with HBO now that the network is close to airing the damning documentary Leaving Neverland.
The doc is set to air on HBO March 3-4 and it will include interviews with two alleged victims, Wade Robson and James Safechuck, who accuse Michael Jackson of sexually abusing them when they were kids.
Jackson’s estate is trying to drag the documentary at all costs, and they’re now suing HBO for $100 million, according to Deadline.
The lawsuit, which was filed Thursday reads:
“The Jackson Estate will seek all damages proximately caused by HBO’s reprehensible disparagement of Michael Jackson, which could exceed $100 million should HBO succeed in the damage it is intending to cause to the legacy of Michael Jackson.”
The 53-page suit continues:
“Petitioners further pray that the arbitrator award punitive damages in the maximum amount permissible if and when Petitioners show their entitlement to such damages.”
Leaving Neverland premiered at the Sundance Film Festival last month under heavy police presence. The two-part, four-hour doc was directed by Dan Reed. HBO is standing firm in their decision to air the doc:
“Despite the desperate lengths taken to undermine the film, our plans remain unchanged,” HBO said in response to the threatening lawsuit. “HBO will move forward with the airing of Leaving Neverland, the two-part documentary, on March 3rd and 4th. This will allow everyone the opportunity to assess the film and the claims in it for themselves.”
Jackson’s estate is using a 1992 deal between Jackson and HBO over a concert special as their legal lynchpin. According to the Jackson estate attorney Howard Weitzman:
“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.”
In language similar to a letter sent to HBO CEO Richard Plepler, Weitzman added:
“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.”
“Nearly four years after Michael died they suddenly changed their recollections, sued the Estate of Michael Jackson for hundreds of millions of dollars and had all of their lawsuits dismissed. Yet they are still seeking money, having appealed. HBO and the director were well aware of their financial motives and that ample opposing facts are available from numerous sources, but made the unconscionable decision to bury any evidence casting doubt on their chosen narrative. Had they made an objective film it would have allowed viewers to make up their own minds about these allegations, instead of having a television network dictate to them that they must accept these false claims about Michael Jackson.”
Michael Jackson died in 2009, four years after being acquitted of seven counts of child molestation and two counts of giving a drug to a 13-year-old boy.
We’ll continue to keep you updated as the lawsuit gains traction.