Looks like we won't be watching British actor Joseph Fiennes portray late superstar Michael Jackson after all: Sky Arts has officially pulled the episode of comedy series "Urban Myths" that was to have featured the odd casting choice, after a public outcry from Jackson's family and fans.
In a statement, the UK channel explained that it decided to cancel the episode, about a rumored road trip that Jackson, Elizabeth Taylor, and Marlon Brando reportedly took together after the events of September 11, 2001. According to the statement, the main motivation was the backlash from Jackson's family, who were offended by Fiennes's casting.
The statement said:
We have taken the decision not to broadcast Elizabeth, Michael & Marlon, a 30min episode from the Sky Arts Urban Myths series. This decision was taken in light of the concerns expressed by Michael Jackson's immediate family. We set out to take a light-hearted look at reportedly true events & never intended to cause any offence. Joseph Fiennes fully supports our decision.
When the first trailer for the series debuted earlier this week (the segment has since been scrubbed from the show's promos), the network initially stuck by its programming. The "Urban Myths" tagline says it's made up of "True...ish Stories," after all, and Sky Arts released a statement that reaffirmed producers' creative freedom.
But Jackson's daughter, Paris, was particularly upset by the promo, and tweeted out her unequivocal disapproval, noting she was "incredibly offended" and that Fiennes's portrayal made her "want to vomit." She also called the episode "insulting" and "shameful."
@TheMJCast 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-Michael K. J. (@ParisJackson) January 11, 2017
@TheMJCast 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— Paris-Michael K. J. (@ParisJackson) January 11, 2017
@TheMJCast where is the respect? they worked through blood sweat and tears for ages to create such profound and remarkable legacies. shameful portrayal— Paris-Michael K. J. (@ParisJackson) January 11, 2017
The rest of the eight-episode series is still set for air, and will debut on Sky Arts on January 19.