After continued fallout from the explosive Michael Jackson documentary “Leaving Neverland,” MTV is considering cutting ties with Jackson’s name for its annual Video Music Awards in August.
“There’s a lot of heated discussion at the network about how to handle the Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award this year, and it’s getting ugly,” a source told us. “There’s talk about if they should change the name, or get rid of it altogether. [There’s also talk] about who would present it and who would accept it. It’s a mess.”
HBO’s controversial documentary focused on disturbing sexual-abuse allegations by former Jackson protégés Wade Robson and James Safechuck. Both claim Jackson groomed them as kids to have a sexual relationship.
Jackson’s estate denied the allegations and filed a $100 million lawsuit against HBO for violating a clause from a 1992 contract that barred the network from making “disparaging remarks” about the King of Pop. HBO countered in court docs that the contract had expired.
But months after the film aired, there are still shock waves being felt in the industry.
“MTV [potentially] banning his name is the latest fallout. They haven’t decided yet, but they’ve been going back and forth on it. There are a lot of issues,” a source said.
The award is not given annually, which could also buy MTV time.
Jackson received the Vanguard Award in 1988, and MTV renamed it in his honour in 1991
Rihanna, Beyoncé, Kanye West, Britney Spears, U2 and Jennifer Lopez (last year’s recipient) are some of the stars to have been honoured under the name.
MTV announced its VMA nominees this week, with Ariana Grande, Taylor Swift, Billie Eilish and Lil Nas X topping the list. Grande and Swift lead the nominations with 10 each.
But while MTV announced Lopez as the MJ Vanguard recipient last July, ahead of the late August airdate, the network so far remains mum on whether there is a recipient this year.
MTV did not get back to us.