UPDATE: ABC News has responded to Michael Jackson estate’s objections over the network’s The Last Days of Michael Jackson. “ABC News’ documentary explores the life, career and legacy of Michael Jackson, who remains of great interest to people worldwide,” an ABC News spokesperson said in a statement. “The program does not infringe on his estate’s rights, but as a courtesy, we removed a specific image from the promotional material.”
The Michael Jackson estate lashed out at television network ABC and its parent company Disney over the upcoming documentary The Last Days of Michael Jackson, a two-hour special that the estate claims was made without their authorization.
“We want consumers to know that The Last Days of Michael Jackson, a television special airing on ABC TV (a subsidiary of The Walt Disney Company) tomorrow May 24th, is not sponsored or approved by the Estate of Michael Jackson,” the Jackson estate said in a statement.
“It is particularly disheartening that Disney, a company known to strongly believe in protecting its own IP rights, would choose to ignore these rights belonging to the Estate.”
The estate added that ABC employed “a copyrighted photo and silhouette image” of Jackson to promote the TV special; the promotional materials were ultimately removed after the estate’s attorneys filed a notice of copyright infringement. The trailer and commercials for the special were subsequently pulled.
“We are told ABC intends to use music and other intellectual property owned by the Estate such as photos, logos, artwork, and more in the program itself, without having licensed the rights to any such material,” the estate said.
“Imagine if this was done with any of ABC’s intellectual property. We believe the special to be another crass and unauthorized attempt to exploit the life, music and image of Michael Jackson without respect for Michael’s legacy, intellectual property rights or his children.”
Jackson and Disney previously collaborated on the sci-fi 3D short film Captain EO, which was shown at Disney’s theme parks from 1986 to 1996; following Jackson’s death, Captain EO was brought back in 2010 before the attraction closed again in 2015.
The Last Days of Michael Jackson boasts never-before-seen interviews between the King of Pop conducted by Diane Sawyer and Barbara Walters, as well as a look into Jackson’s life and career. It is still currently scheduled to air May 24th.