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Michael Jackson Estate Called Out By HBO Over Wade Robson, Network Wants Lawsuit Dismissed

By Ryan Naumann

The estate of Michael Jackson is being ripped by HBO in their $100 million battle over “Leaving Neverland”.

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.”

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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”

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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."

Gettyimages | Phil Walter

Earlier this year, MJ’s estate filed a petition to compel HBO to arbitration over the documentary ‘Leaving Neverland’.

They argued that Jackson had a longstanding contractual relationship” with HBO, and believe there is a non-disparagement clause that was breached. They accused HBO of being in breach of a 1992 deal, which they had with Jackson to air his Dangerous Tour special.

MJ’s estate is seeking all “damages proximately caused by HBO’s reprehensible disparagement of Michael Jackson, which could exceed $100 million should HBO succeed in the damage it is intending to cause the legacy of Michael Jackson.”

Gettyimages | NBC NewsWire

HBO has been trying to get the whole thing thrown out of court, denying all allegations of wrongdoing.

HBO says the original contact is very clear any legal issues arising would not be heard in private court. They call the estate’s interpretation of the contact “mere fantasy.”

They said “Leaving Neverland” only briefly mentioned the 1992 concert and had nothing really to do with the documentary. They also argue the documentary came out more than 25 years AFTER the termination of the 1992 agreement and “long past any reasonable period of time thereafter.”

In a statement to The Blast, the estate of Michael Jackson says, "A contract doesn’t expire just because you wish it so as HBO does here. There is no expiration term in the contract, nor does it terminate as a matter of law. Likewise, the First Amendment does not protect HBO from willfully and blatantly violating its contractual obligations, as it did here."

The statement continues, "The Estate of Michael Jackson is confident that HBO’s latest attempt to avoid its contractual obligations will fail."

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