Michael Jackson’s family has been up in arms over HBO’s sex abuse documentary Leaving Neverland. Now, the late singer’s estate is fighting back with a shocking lawsuit. RadarOnline.com can reveal exclusive details on the estate is suing the documentary for $100 million.
In the lawsuit obtained from Los Angeles County Superior Court, Jackson’s estate is suing HBO for breach of contract and breach of the covenant of good faith and fair dealing.
The petition to compel public arbitration of claims filed on Thursday, February 21, proclaims Jackson’s innocence.
"In 2005, Michael Jackson was subjected to a trial—where rules of evidence and law were applied before a neutral judge and jury and where both sides were heard—and he was exonerated by a sophisticated jury,” the petition read. “Ten years after his passing, there are still those out to profit from his enormous worldwide success and take advantage of his eccentricities. Michael is an easy target because he is not here to defend himself, and the law does not protect the deceased from defamation, no matter how extreme the lies are. Michael may not have lived his life according to society’s norms, but genius and eccentricity are not crimes.”
The filing, which Deadline first reported, continued, “Nothing and no one can rewrite the facts which show that Michael Jackson is indeed innocent of the charges being levied at him by HBO in its ‘documentary’ Leaving Neverland.”
The estate accused HBO of “character assassination,” claiming the network is “so desperate for eyeballs.”
“In producing this fictional work, HBO ignored its contractual obligations to Michael and his companies by disparaging both him and the Dangerous World Tour that HBO had previously profited from immensely,” the filing continued.
Wade Robson and James Safechuck, who accused Jackson of sexual abuse in the documentary, are labeled “perjurers.”
“With more holes in their stories than anyone can count, both view Michael Jackson, the man who they previously swore was an inspiration and did nothing to them, as a lottery ticket through accusations never brought during Michael’s life,” the lawsuit continued. “They never brought these claims during Michael’s life, because they knew Michael would have held them both legally accountable for their defamation.”
The estate claims director Dan Reed “refused” to offer counter-point to their “fabrications” and allegedly refused to talk to anyone whose statements may not fit the storyline on the documentary.
“With more holes in their stories than anyone can count, both view Michael Jackson, the man who they previously swore was an inspiration and did nothing to them, as a lottery ticket through accusations never brought during Michael’s life,” the petition read. “They never brought these claims during Michael’s life, because they knew Michael would have held them both legally accountable for their defamation."
The filing continues that HBO refused to meet with representatives of the estate or his three children Paris, Prince and Michael Jr., who “made no threats but just asked for a meeting to discuss problems with the ‘documentary.’”
“The real victims here are the primary beneficiaries of the Estate, Michael’s three children, who are forced to endure this attack on their father, ten years after they buried him, and when he has no chance to respond,” the lawsuit claimed.
The estate allegedly wrote a detailed, 10-page letter explaining the problems with the film, but they claim HBO never responded.
The estate is seeking all damages, which could exceed $100 million.
Estate Attorney Howard Weitzman told RadarOnline.com in a statement, “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. 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.”
The statement continued, “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. 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.”