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Michael Jackson’s Estate Is Counterprogramming Leaving Neverland by Releasing Concert Films on YouTube

The crowd at a Michael Jackson concert in Bucharest.
A bunch of people enabling Michael Jackson.
MJJ Productions

As you probably know, HBO is airing Leaving Neverland, a documentary about Michael Jackson’s alleged habit of sexually assaulting children, on Sunday and Monday night. This poses a certain problem for the Jackson estate, inasmuch as they would prefer to stop talking bout who did what to whom and continue to make money from the work of the late pop singer, and a four-hour-long film alleging their golden goose was a pedophile can’t be great for revenue. The estate has been on a PR blitz since Sundance, but now that the doc is actually airing, they’ve moved on to a new stage: counter-programming. On Sunday night, the estate dropped an old Michael Jackson TV special that just happens to be exactly as long as the first half of Leaving Neverland on YouTube:

Immerse yourself in Michael Jackson? Michael Jackson Live in Bucharest: The Dangerous Tour isn’t just any Michael Jackson concert special—it’s the very HBO special that forms the basis of the Jackson estate’s $100 million lawsuit against the network. (While making the special back in 1992, HBO executives signed a contract with Jackson that contained a non-disparagement clause that the estate says should bar them from airing Leaving Neverland.) The rights to the special seem to have reverted to the estate—although Sony released a DVD in the mid-aughts, if you buy the special on iTunes today it comes from “MJJ Productions,” Jackson’s company—so there’s no takedown notice coming. Tomorrow, the estate has promised to release another concert film on YouTube in the same desperate hope Jackson’s reputation—and his posthumous career as a steady earner—will survive his accusers’ stories. People do a lot of shitty things for money.

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