HBO is set to air bombshell Michael Jackson documentary Leaving Neverland across two nights on March 3 and 4, but the pop star’s estate isn’t going to let that happen without a fight. The documentary, which comes from filmmaker Dan Reed, centers on allegations from two men who claim that Jackson abused them as children, and Jackson’s estate has already denounced the film as a “public lynching.” Now, it’s time for the Jackson estate to try and take this issue to the courts, but since the law doesn’t protect dead people from defamation, it’s taking an odd approach to defending his name.
According to Billboard, the estate has dredged up a contract between HBO and Jackson from 1992 over the rights to air one of Jackson’s concerts after the release of Dangerous because it contains a provision about HBO not making any “disparaging remarks concerning Performer or any of his representatives, agents, or business practices” that may “lower in esteem the reputation or public image of Performer.” In other words, the estate has filed a lawsuit against HBO for breaching this contract from 27 years ago in which it indicated that it would not say anything negative about Jackson. The lawsuit also mentions that “there are still those out to profit from [Jackson’s] enormous worldwide success and take advantage of his eccentricities,” which is pretty rich coming from Michael Jackson’s estate.
HBO has responded to the suit by essentially saying that it’s sticking to its guns, noting that it will still air Leaving Neverland as planned in March so everyone will have “the opportunity to assess the film and the claims in it for themselves.”