Michael Jackson’s estate assails HBO plans for documentary

Lawrence Kim
February 9, 2019

Brenda Jenkyns, left, and Catherine Van Tighem who drove from Calgary, Canada stand with signs outside of the premiere of the "Leaving Neverland" Michael Jackson documentary film during the 2019 Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah. Despite criticism and pressure from the singer's heirs, HBO announced Friday that the film would make its television premiere in two parts March 3 and 4.

Michael Jackson's estate is calling HBO's decision to air a documentary that includes allegations from two men that the superstar molested them "disgraceful" and is urging the cable network to further investigate their backgrounds. The Jackson estate's 10-page response directed at HBO CEO Richard Plepler used equally strong language against Robson, Safechuck and the network itself.

"Apparently, Jackson's estate lawyer Howard Weitzman, according to sources, has sent HBO very tough communications about the downside of libeling the King of Pop even in death", reports Roger Friedman.

Leaving Neverland was embroiled in controversy before its debut.

This is not the first time the Jackson estate has made its displeasure with the documentary known.

In a statement to The Times, HBO said it will air the documentary as planned next month. It's writers quote the film's director Dan Reed, who himself said the project isn't based around first-hand accounts - "no one else who might offer evidence to contradict the program's premise was consulted either, as Dan Reed has publicly admitted", it reads.

"We've been looking for a platform to be able to tell the truth", said Robson. HBO said in a statement after the letter's release: "Our plans remain unchanged".

"When I would go in to pick Jackson's bedroom, many times when there were his special guests there, little boys, they were taking baths with him in his jacuzzi".

In a separate interview with Variety, Bloys said "Leaving Neverland" "absolutely" meets HBO's documentary standards.

"Anyone who sees the film will know it is exclusively about hearing the stories of two specific individuals and their families in their own words, and that is a focus we are very proud of", Reed said in a previous statement.

She claims the singer and songwriter - who has been accused of serious sexual abuse in a shocking new documentary - brought a long line of young boys into his bedroom and that she saw many troubling things while cleaning up after him.

"They were very hard, and crunchy, and yellow, but I didn't know who they belonged to", McManus told the Daily Mail.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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