UPDATE After seeing our story, HBO has decided to schedule the doc for March 3 and March 4th. Disappointing, but we’ll live.
EARLIER “Leaving Neverland” may not be ready for prime time, after all.
I’m hearing that Dan Reed’s controversial documentary that portrays Michael Jackson as a pedophile may not show up on HBO’s schedule as planned.
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.
The documentary is incredibly one-sided according to those who saw it at Sundance. It gives only specious claims by Wade Robson and James Safechuck, includes no defense of Jackson or any kind of counterbalance.
HBO’s documentary division is so well respected that I’m told Weitzman’s criticisms, as well those voiced in other places including this column, may wind up killing the doc’s presentation.
No one would accuse HBO of caving in, but rather having a thoughtful re-evaluation of the material at hand. Robson and Safechuck could not find a court of law to help them. An unbalanced documentary would cause damage to Jackson’s reputation that the Estate would have to spend a lifetime correcting.
Also, there may be interference from HBO’s new owner, AT&T. They may not be so keen to see lots of bad press from claims that can’t be backed up. So far the only endorsements the doc is getting are from completely discredited former Neverland employees who were also bounced out of court in the 90s after selling their stories to the tabloids.
I saw revived claims yesterday from Adrian McManus, one of the infamous former Neverlanders who thought they could cash in after Jackson’s payoff to Jordan Chandler was revealed in the 90s. They are, like the stories made up by other staff who were kicked out at that time, ridiculous. Some of them testified against Jackson in 2005, and they were completely unbelievable. If HBO is going to rely on that gang, they should definitely reconsider.