The estate of Michael Jackson no doubt knew that going after HBO for airing the controversial documentary Leaving Neverland wouldn’t go off without a tough legal fight. The cable giant is firing back in the case, demanding that the lawsuit brought by the state be dismissed.
The Blast reports:
According to court documents obtained by The Blast, HBO is not holding back in court against Jackson’s estate. They are continuing to demand the estate’s legal action against them over “Leaving Neverland” be dismissed.
They explain the entire case was brought, “Less than two weeks before Leaving Neverland was scheduled to premiere on HBO, Optimum Productions, John Branca, and John McClain (collectively, “Plaintiffs”) very publicly filed a Petition to Compel Arbitration that aggressively attacks HBO for exercising its free speech rights when it chose to exhibit the documentary, seeks to compel an unavailable ‘public’ arbitration over an expired contract, and asserts they are entitled to more than $100 million in damages— including punitive damages—allegedly arising from statements made in the film about Michael Jackson.”
HBO takes the estate to task saying, “ The only possible reason why Plaintiffs filed their Petition in court was to attract maximum attention to their public relations campaign against Leaving Neverland and the documentary’s subjects, two men who recount in the film in extraordinary detail how, as boys, they were serially sexually abused by Mr. Jackson”
The continue, “But neither the Estate of Michael Jackson nor anyone else owns history, especially history involving a world-famous and controversial public figure. Leaving Neverland’s filmmakers were fully within their rights to tell Mr. Robson’s and Mr. Safechuck’s important stories, and HBO was fully within its rights to exhibit the newsworthy documentary.”
The outlet adds that the estate is arguing that the 1992 non-disparagement clause agreed upon between Jackson and HBO should stand and that the Leaving Neverland documentary’s presents a slanderous angle that violates the agreement. HBO believes that the contract is expired and thus they were within full rights to tell Wade Robson’s and James Safechuck’s story.