HBO Film Revives Lurid Claims, Imperiling Thriving Michael Jackson Estate

A check of Mr. Jackson’s market attraction could also be “Don’t Stop ’Til You Get Enough,” the musical produced by the property and Columbia Live Stage, a division of Sony Pictures. Planned for a 2020 Broadway premiere, it has a intellectual artistic workforce: Lynn Nottage, a two-time Pulitzer Prize winner, is writing the ebook, and Christopher Wheeldon, a ballet luminary, is the choreographer.

Since “Leaving Neverland” made its debut at Sundance, the destiny of the musical has prompted speak in theater circles. A Chicago tryout run was canceled; producers blamed scheduling conflicts after an actors’ strike. A spokesman for the present mentioned the manufacturing remained on schedule.

The bigger query, mentioned Stacy Wolf, a Princeton theater professor, is whether or not Ms. Nottage, who is understood for her politically charged work, has the liberty to stray from a sanitized account of Mr. Jackson’s life story. The present, which can incorporate Mr. Jackson’s songs, was introduced as being primarily based on the interval main as much as his “Dangerous” tour of 1992 and 1993 — a tour minimize brief when allegations of abuse surfaced.

“The question is, can she figure out, as a dramatist, how to tell the story she wants to tell, without compromising her politics, and dealing with this very difficult estate?” Ms. Wolf mentioned.

Through the present’s spokesman, the producers and Ms. Nottage declined to remark.

In its petition for arbitration, the Jackson property accused HBO of being in breach of a 1992 settlement it had made with the singer to broadcast a live performance from Bucharest, Romania. The property mentioned the contract had contained a nondisparagement clause that HBO was violating with “Leaving Neverland.”

The submitting — which begins, “Michael Jackson is innocent. Period.” — additionally targets the credibility of Mr. Robson and Mr. Safechuck. Both males, the submitting says, are “pursuing claims against the Jackson estate for hundreds of millions of dollars,” by appeals of their swimsuit. (In response, HBO has mentioned it plans to broadcast “Leaving Neverland” as introduced, “despite the desperate lengths taken to undermine the film.”)

In the #MeToo period, aggressive statements in opposition to accusers will not be efficient, mentioned Matthew Hiltzik, whose agency, Hiltzik Strategies, handles disaster administration for celebrities and firms.

“It’s understandable that an estate would want to fight back in any way possible because of the unique challenges of trying to refute claims against someone who has been dead for 10 years,” Mr. Hiltzik mentioned. “But it may backfire based on the contents of the documentary and the current climate.”

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