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’sattorney 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.
“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,” Weitzman continued.
“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.”
“Leaving Neverland,” which is set to premiere on HBOon 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 extrasecurity 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.”