LONDON -- A British broadcaster said Friday it was canceling a TV comedy starring Joseph Fiennes as Michael Jackson after the program was condemned by the late musician’s family.
Sky Arts said it has decided not to broadcast the program “in light of the concerns expressed by Michael Jackson’s immediate family.” It said Fiennes “fully supports our decision.”
Sky had been criticized for casting the white “Shakespeare in Love” star as the King of Pop in “Elizabeth, Michael and Marlon.” The half-hour program also features Stockard Channing as Elizabeth Taylor and British actor Brian Cox as Marlon Brando.
Jackson’s daughter Paris tweeted that she felt angry after watching a trailer for the show, which was due to be broadcast next week.
“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,” she wrote. “It angers me to see how obviously intentional it was for them to be this insulting, not just towards my father, but my godmother Liz as well.”
The show is an episode in the “Urban Myths” series, which Sky says looks at “remarkable stories from well-known historical, artistic and cultural figures, which may or may not have happened in real life.”
It centers on a possibly apocryphal cross-country road trip taken by Jackson, Taylor and Brando after the Sept. 11 attacks. Sky said it was intended as “a light-hearted look at reportedly true events and never intended to cause any offense.”
Fiennes defended his casting last year, saying that no disrespect was meant by the project. “No one’s trying to do an exact impersonation, but it’s just a sense of the fun of the road trip,” the actor said. “If it did happen, maybe it happened like this. That’s all it is, a lighthearted take.”
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