British TV Episode Featuring Joseph Fiennes as Michael Jackson Pulled After Uproar.
Sky Arts pulled the episode from its schedule following a wave of criticism from both fans and the late King of Pop’s immediate family.
“We have taken the decision not to broadcast Elizabeth, Michael and Marlon, a half-hour episode from the Sky Arts Urban Myths series, in light of the concerns expressed by Michael Jackson’s immediate family,” Sky Arts said in a statement. “We set out to take a lighthearted look at reportedly true events and never intended to cause any offense.”
Following the decision to pull the episode from the series, Sky added in their statement, “Joseph Fiennes fully supports our decision.”
Sky Arts’ decision comes two days after the release of the anthology series’ first trailer featuring Fiennes’ controversial Jackson portrayal. A day later, the late singer’s daughter Paris Jackson tweeted her disapproval of the episode.
“I’m so incredibly offended by it, as I’m sure plenty of people are as well, and it honestly makes me want to vomit,” Paris Jackson wrote in the first of a series of tweets. “It angers me to see how obviously intentional it was for them to be this insulting, not just towards my father, but my godmother [Elizabeth Taylor] as well.”
Paris Jackson also supported a fan-sparked boycott of the episode, which drew more than 20,000 signatures, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
“Where is the respect?” Paris Jackson continued. “They worked through blood, sweat and tears for ages to create such profound and remarkable legacies. Shameful portrayal.”
Elizabeth, Michael and Marlon was a fictional reimagining of the urban legend about the King of Pop’s post-9/11 road trip with Marlon Brando and Elizabeth Taylor, with the three megastars attempting to drive from New York to Los Angeles following the terror attacks.
However, it was Fiennes’ casting that attracted the most controversy, with producers being accused of “whitewashing” Jackson with the casting.
“This is territory that is sensitive,” Fiennes previously said of the role. “One must determine if this portrayal is one that is going to be positive entertainment, and one that will not bring about division and put anyone’s noses out of joint, so I went with the mind that this was a positive light-hearted comedy.”