The lawsuit comes as HBO’s Leaving Neverland continues to wreak havoc on the image of the once-adored Michael Jackson.
The documentary, which aired earlier this year, shed light upon alleged child abuse committed by Jackson. The film dropped like a bomb, with two accusers — Wade Robson and James Safechuck — painting Jackson as a manipulative monster who repeatedly abused them over a period of years.
The documentary, which was generally well received by critics, has drawn the ire of many Jackson fans. Now, following a largely unsuccessful lawsuit from Michael’s estate, some of these fans are taking steps to combat what they perceive to be an unfair and one-sided assessment of Jackson’s legacy.
The estate has mostly been stymied in its efforts to sue HBO for a massive $100 million.
Specifically, several members of France-based Michael Jackson fan clubs are suing the men who made accusations in Leaving Neverland. Under French law, it is a crime to tarnish a deceased individual’s image; however, it is not a crime to do so in the United States or Canada.
The matter is expected to reach the courts in the coming weeks. At this stage, it’s unclear what level of damages are being claimed.
Jackson’s estate attempted to make HBO pull the documentary shortly after its release.
The Pop King’s lawyers stated that by creating Leaving Neverland, HBO had breached a three-decade-old contract that they signed with Jackson ahead of their broadcasting two of his shows. The said contract included a clause that essentially prohibited HBO from producing negative media about Jackson.
Jackson’s lawyers have unsuccessfully tried to make the case heard behind closed doors, and at the time of writing, the matter is still set to be decided in a traditional court. Even if the Jackson Estate is found to be in the right, details pertaining to the allegations could well be released to the media.
Some stars have come to Jackson’s defense, and Michael Jackson: Chase the Truth is set to be released on August 13th. The counter-documentary will attempt to disprove the allegations made by Jackson’s alleged victims.
Incidentally, Jackson’s music sales and streams have actually increased by about 10% since Leaving Neverland debuted.