Michael Jackson‘s estate is responding to the forthcoming doc, “Leaving Neverland.”
According to a report in The Blast, the late artist’s estate has filed a $100 million dollar lawsuit against HBO. The estate filed a petition to compel the network into arbitration over the documentary.
HBO released the first trailer for Leaving Neverland earlier this week. The documentary, which is slated to air in March, is centered on two men, James Safechuck and choreographer and Jackson’s former backup dancer Wade Robson, who allege Michael Jackson sexually abused them when they were children.
Jackson’s legal team claims, “Michael Jackson is innocent period.”
Legal documents obtained by The Blast, show the estate is arguing Jackson has a “longstanding contractual relationship” with HBO, and believe a non-disparagement clause was breached.
The estate is seeking 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 the legacy of Michael Jackson.”
They also address the alleged victims, claiming they’re using a “litigation strategy.”
Jackson estate attorney, Howard Weitzman, told The Blast, “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.”
He continued, “HBO could have and should have ensured that Leaving Neverland was properly sourced, fact-checked and a fair and balanced representation,” but claims, “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.”
HBO released a statement on Thursday, saying, “Despite the desperate lengths taken to undermine the film, our plans remain unchanged. HBO will move forward with the airing of Leaving Neverland,” adding, “this will allow everyone the opportunity to assess the film and the claims in it for themselves.”
The two-part documentary airs on March 3rd and 4th on HBO.
Ivie is a Nigerian-American, native New Yorker, and journalist covering culture. Usually on-air, on deadline, and on point. @ivieani