Michael Jackson’s Family Suing HBO Over Child Molestation Claims
A new documentary about the alleged sex crimes Michael Jackson made its debut at the Sundance film festival last month.
With a runtime of over four hours, Leaving Neverland was only screened once, but despite its small audience, the film quickly became the talk of the festival.
Neverland is set to make its broadcast debut on HBO in March, and according to a new report from TMZ, Jackson’s family is doing everything in its power to prevent that from happening.
According to court papers obtained by the site, the Jacksons — who have already compared the film to “a public lynching” — have filed a $ 100 million suit against the network.
Such a move is not uncommon in cases where a piece of journalism threatens major damage to the reputation of a rich and powerful person — even when that person is no longer living.
What’s unusual in this case is that the Jacksons may have a valid case.
TMZ reports that the family’s attorneys are not disputing the claims made in the documentary.
Rather, they’re arguing that HBO relinquished its right to disparage Jackson in any way when it reached an agreement with the singer nearly 27 years ago.
Back in 1992, HBO aired a concert special entitled Michael Jackson Live in Concert in Bucharest: The Dangerous Tour.
Jackson’s contract at the time required all major media partners to sign a very specific non-disparagement agreement.
“HBO shall not make any disparaging remarks concerning Performer or any of his representatives, agents, or business practices or do any act that may harm or disparage or cause to lower in esteem the reputation or public image of performer,” reads a document reportedly signed by HBO execs.
HBO’s lawyers will likely argue that the contract is voided by the fact that Jackson is dead and HBO is a radically different network now than it was in 1992.
But no doubt the Jacksons have hired a legal dream team, and if there’s no expiration date on the contract, then they may succeed in burying Leaving Neverland — for now.
Unfortunately for the Jackson estate, this is 2019 — an era with a virtually infinite number of media outlets.
Which means the film is sure to find an audience one way or another.