U.K. broadcaster Sky will not air a TV programme in which Michael Jackson is portrayed by white actor Joseph Fiennes, after the late singer’s daughter Paris expressed she was “incredibly offended” by it.
The episode – part of a television series called Urban Myths – had been due to air on U.K. cable channel Sky Arts.
Fiennes stars as Jackson in the programme, alongside Stockard Channing as Elizabeth Taylor and Brian Cox as Marlon Brando, which documents a series of “true … ish” stories including one in which the three stars supposedly took a cross-country road trip together after the 9/11 terror attacks.
After the first trailer for the show was released on Wednesday (11Jan17), Jackson’s daughter tweeted: “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…”
On Friday (13Jan17) Sky released a statement to the BBC announcing that the episode which features the music icon had been pulled following the criticism from the singer’s 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, the statement read.
“We set out to take a light-hearted look at reportedly true events and never intended to cause any offence. Joseph Fiennes fully supports our decision.”
The stories had been described as “mischievous and deliberately ambiguous” by Sky Arts on its website. However, Shakespeare in Love star Fiennes anticipated the backlash would be immediate when he signed on to play Jackson last year (16), telling The Hollywood Reporter he understood why people were “up in arms” about his casting.
In a 1993 interview with Oprah Winfrey, Jackson who died in 2009 aged 50, rejected the idea of a white actor portraying him.