After continued controversy surrounding the Michael Jackson documentary Leaving Neverland, MTV is considering disassociating one of its Video Music Awards from the King of Pop's name starting this year.
"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. 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," a source told Page Six.
HBO's controversial documentary Leaving Neverland 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 with the award. 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.
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