After Lifetime dropped the ball last year with their Michael Jackson biopic, you’d hope the TV movie fascination with the King of Pop’s last moments would be over. And yet, here we are. On Thursday night, ABC will air a two-hour documentary titled The Last Days of Michael Jackson, and Jackson’s estate does not approve of the project.
According to Deadline, the Michael Jackson estate claims the documentary was in no way “sponsored or approved” by Jackson’s heirs, which they believe violates their intellectual property rights. The estate wrote 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 statement continues:
“ABC was using a copyrighted photo and silhouette image owned by the Estate in the trailers and promotional material for the special. Only after notice from our attorneys to ABC News indicating they were infringing on our IP rights were the materials removed. 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.
“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.”
ABC denied the estate’s assertion in their own statement, which reads:
“ABC News’ documentary explores the life, career and legacy of Michael Jackson, who remains of great interest to people worldwide. The program does not infringe on his estate’s rights, but as a courtesy, we removed a specific image from the promotional material.”
It doesn’t bode well that we’ve seen movies about Jackson’s final days go terribly wrong in the past.