HBO tried to appeal the arbitration order in a battle with Michael Jackson's estate over ''Leaving Neverland.''
Michael Jackson's estate has been part of a nasty court battle with HBO for the production of Leaving Neverland. The 4-hour documentary focuses on the experiences of Wade Robson and James Safechuck, who claim they were sexually abused by Michael Jackson when they were young.
The documentary won an Emmy award, which the singer's estate considered a ''complete farce,'' considering it was a ''non-fictional'' production solely based on opinions of the alleged victims and their families. HBO was, therefore, sued by Jackson's estate for $100 million, because they believe the production company created the show for ratings.
HBO tried to counter the suit under California’s anti-SLAPP statute by stating their rights for free speech and claiming that the topic was subject to public concern. According to them, they were only enlightening people about the concerns for sexual and child abuse. However, this was a violation of their contract for a Michael Jackson film in 1992, which involved a non-disparagement provision. For this reason, Jackson's counsel filed an arbitration order. The judge sided with the estate, and HBO's motion to dismiss the arbitration order was denied a month ago.
The motion was just appealed by HBO counsel. The appeal was predicted by the judge and opposing counsel. Although there were no comments made by HBO, Michael Jackson's estate lawyer took advantage of the PR opportunity and stated, “soon there will be a hearing, as the Court ordered, and damages will be awarded for HBO’s intentional and unlawful conduct.'' He added, “the real questions are what is HBO afraid of and how much will they end up paying the Estate of Michael Jackson.”