Saturday, June 15, 2024

UPDATE- HBO Schedules Michael Jackson Documentary Despite Complaints from King of Pop’s Estate, Upset Fans


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.


Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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