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George Michael regretted Sony court case, says former manager

The documentary focuses on five years of the Careless Whisper singer's life in the 1990s.

George Michael regretted taking on record label Sony in a legal battle at the height of his fame, a new documentary will reveal.

The pop superstar will open up about losing the court case and the death of his first love Anselmo Feleppa from an Aids-related illness in the film, recorded prior to Michael’s death on Christmas Day last year.

Michael’s lifelong friend and former manager, David Austin, said the singer had come to regret the court case which was launched after he grew frustrated over how 1990 album Listen Without Prejudice had been marketed and accused Sony of “professional slavery”.

Austin said: “He says in the film, and when we were talking about the court case and how we were going to handle it, and I didn’t realise this at all, but he turned around to me and said how he regretted it.

“He wished he’d never taken Sony on in the first place. It dented the armour in his career in America, he was a guy who was firing on all four cylinders and it just, it blew that candle out in the US without a doubt.”

Austin, who served as co-director and executive producer on the 90-minute Channel 4 documentary, said Michael discovered Feleppa was dying during the court case.

He said: “All these things happened at the same time. And what’s really interesting that people don’t realise is that while this court case was going on, he was on the stand, he was holding it very close to his heart, obviously nobody knew, he hadn’t come out at the time.

“He was on the stand… he hadn’t come out, his boyfriend was dying, he was holding this close to his chest, which was incredibly, equally just devastating for him.”

Austin said it was the star’s decision to open up about Feleppa in the film as well as include home footage of the couple.

“It was all George’s idea… I think it was just something that George wanted to do, he loved Anselmo, he was an incredibly important person in his life, and it just came from George, it came from George’s heart.”

He added: “I mean that’s really the heartbeat of the film in the centre you know, all these private, all this home footage, that’s the real heart of the film.”

The documentary focuses on five years of the Careless Whisper singer’s life in the 1990s and features a star-studded line-up of celebrities including Liam Gallagher, Naomi Campbell, Mary J Blige, Elton John, and Stevie Wonder.

:: George Michael: Freedom will air on Channel 4 on Monday October 16.

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