Michael Jackson‘s Estate scored an early victory in their legal showdown with HBO over what they’ve called a “mockumentary” aimed at damaging the King Of Pop’s name.
MJ’s team have claimed that, beyond being rooted in fictitious claims by accusers who have defended the deceased star in the past, ‘Leaving Neverland’ fundamentally violated an enduring “non disparagement” agreement the network signed with the singer as part of their ‘Dangerous Tour’ broadcast rights.
Lawyers for HBO moved to dismiss the Estate’s case against them on the merit of California’s anti-SLAPP statute, which discourages frivolous litigation intended to chill speech on issues of public interest.
But, per Variety, Judge George Wu disagreed and in a tentative ruling he concluded that the statute does not apply to requests for arbitration. He is expected to make the ruling final by the month’s end.
Still, it looks like there’s more legal wrangling to come; a reality Wu acknowledged when relaying that whoever comes out on the lesser end is likely to appeal:
“You’re a big company, they’re a wealthy estate. It’s a clash of the titans.”