The fallout from HBO’s Leaving Neverland documentary continues as MTV considers cutting ties with Michael Jackson.
The annual MTV Video Music Awards are coming up in August, and Michael Jackson has long held a position of honor in the show with the ‘Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award’. But that high-profile association is becoming increasingly uncomfortable.
One source said discussions over how to handle the award are getting ugly.
“There’s talk about if they should change the name, or get rid of it altogether. [There’s also talk] about who would present it and who would accept it. It’s a mess.”
Leaving Neverland focused on two first-hand accounts of men who suffered abuse at the hands of Jackson. The Jackson Estate has been aggressively opposed to the documentary since its inception, with legal action quickly ensuing after the initial airing.
In the hard-to-watch film, Jackson proteges Wade Robson and James Safechuck discuss very candidly how Jackson groomed them for a sexual relationship. That followed decades of court battles and allegations of rampant pedophilia at Jackson’s Neverland Ranch.
The Jackson Estate has denied all allegations and sued HBO for $100 million for violating a 1992 contract. HBO’s response in court is that the contract was expired and was therefore no longer valid. HBO won a court judgment in May to keep the case in court rather than forced arbitration.
Meanwhile, the value of the Michael Jackson legacy continues to plunge, with the King of Pop increasingly regarded as a pedophile.
Michael Jackson first received the Vanguard Award in 1988 and MTV renamed the award in his honor in 1991. Sources say MTV is still undecided on whether to rename it or leave it out of the ceremony.
VMA nominees were revealed this week including Billie Eilish, Lil Nas X, Ariana Grande, and Taylor Swift. Both Ariana Grande and Taylor Swift lead nominations with 10 each. Jennifer Lopez won the MJ Vanguard Award last year, but MTV has been mum on a recipient for this year.
It’s pretty likely we’ll see MTV elect to skip this one entirely since the controversy is so fresh. The Vanguard Award is not an annual award, so MTV could buy some time by skipping it at this year’s VMAs.