Believe it or not, British actor Joseph Fiennes will play Michael Jackson -- opposite Stockard Channing as Elizabeth Taylor and Brian Cox as Marlon Brando -- in a road trip comedy called "Elizabeth, Michael & Marlon," following the celebrity trio's rumored cross-country trip after the 9/11 attacks in New York City.
Joseph Fiennes recently described (and defended) the project to WENN:
"I got the script the other day. It's a challenge. It's a comedy. It doesn't poke mean fun but it's a story, possibly urban legend, whereby Michael, Marlon Brando, and Liz Taylor were all together the day before 9/11 doing a concert. Airspace was shut down and they couldn't get out and Michael had the bright idea to go to hire a car and drive. So the three of them got in a car and drove 500 miles to Los Angeles. It took them a while because they had to stop at a lot of Burger Kings for Marlon; but they got out! It's a lovely thing about Michael's relationship with Liz Taylor and Marlon Brando. It's a fun, light-hearted tongue in cheek road trip of what celebrity of that kind is like. But also it's rather beautiful and poignant about their relationships as well."
Sky Arts issued a statement (via Entertainment Weekly) on the half-hour comedy, which is meant to air sometime later this year:
"'Elizabeth, Michael & Marlon' is a Sky Arts comedy which takes a light hearted look at a reportedly true event; Joseph Fiennes is cast as Michael Jackson. It is part of a series of comedies about unlikely stories from arts and cultural history. Sky Arts puts the integrity of the creative vision at the heart of all its original commissions and we believe in giving producers the creative freedom to cast roles as they wish, within the diversity framework which we have set."
That sounds like a pre-emptive strike against anyone threatening to be offended by the white Joseph Fiennes (brother of Ralph Fiennes) taking on the role of Michael Jackson. And, in fact, HitFix has already posted the news under its "Outrage Watch," sharing reaction tweets from critics.
Orlando Jones had a good take:
I'm TOTALLY on board with Joseph Fiennes playing Michael Jackson IF AND ONLY IF Angela Bassett is cast as Elizabeth Taylor
— Orlando Jones (@TheOrlandoJones) January 27, 2016
That would've been great. But it's not happening. And it follows Charlie Hunnam's casting as a Mexican-American drug lord. Needless to say, this is not the diversity many viewers were hoping to see on screen.
The fact that the Joseph Fiennes & Charlie Hunnam whitewashing announcements are made during #OscarsSoWhite campaign says a whole lot.
— Lexi Alexander (@Lexialex) January 27, 2016
Do you think it's in bad taste for Fiennes (and Hunnam) to take roles like this, or should fans just wait and see before judging? Maybe we should be most "offended" by the idea of a comedy set around the September 11 attacks.
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