The Michael Jackson estate released a two-hour concert film on YouTube Sunday night in an attempt to divert attention from the premiere of Leaving Neverland. The estate plans to drop another performance tonight, March 4th, to coincide with part two of the bombshell HBO documentary.
The Jackson estate has been fiercely critical of Leaving Neverland, which centers around accusations from two men, Wade Robson and Jimmy Safechuck, who claim Jackson sexually abused them repeatedly when they were children. Even the concert film the estate chose to release Sunday night seemed to be a pointed rebuke: Michael Jackson in Concert in Bucharest: The Dangerous Tour first aired as a concert special on HBO in 1992.
The film is also at the center of the Jackson estate’s legal action against HBO over the documentary. While the family can’t sue the network for libel or defamation as dead individuals are exempt from such laws, they did file a $100 million lawsuit claiming that Leaving Neverland violates a non-disparagement clause in a 1992 contract between Jackson and HBO over the rights to air the Bucharest concert special.
“HBO profited off the Dangerous World Tour by airing a concert from the tour and promoting Michael Jackson’s talents,” the suit claims. “Now, HBO is profiting off the Dangerous World Tour by airing a ‘documentary’ that falsely claims Michael Jackson was abusing children on the same tour. It is hard to imagine a more direct violation of the non-disparagement clause.”
The suit, however, did not phase HBO. A representative for the network told Rolling Stone, “Despite the desperate lengths taken to undermine the film, our plans remain unchanged… This will allow everyone the opportunity to assess the film and the claims in it for themselves.”
Tonight, the estate plans to release Jackson’s July 16th, 1988 concert at Wembley Stadium in London, England. Both concert films will be available on YouTube for a limited time. Part two of Leaving Neverland airs at 8 p.m. ET on HBO.