Sky Arts will not screen the forthcoming episode of its new series ‘Urban Myths’, featuring Joseph Fiennes playing Michael Jackson, following complaints from the late singer’s family.
A statement from the broadcaster read: “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.
“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.”
Paris Jackson, the late singer’s daughter, said that the trailer for the comedy had made her ‘want to vomit’.
In a series of tweets, she added: “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.
“Where is the respect? They worked through blood sweat and tears for ages to create such profound and remarkable legacies. Shameful portrayal.”
Jackson’s nephew Taj added: “Unfortunately this is what my family has to deal with. No words could express the blatant disrespect.”
The series takes and dramatises a range of urban myths, the Jackson episode being particularly intriguing.
It was claimed by Elizabeth Taylor’s former personal assistant that she, Jackson and the actor Marlon Brando, on finding themselves stranded in New York, hired a car and drove 500 miles to Ohio in the days after the 9/11 attacks.
However, Brando soon began to irritate his fellow road trippers by insisting on stopping at every Burger King and KFC along the way.
The casting of Fiennes was revealed last year to accusations of whitewashing, but director Ben Palmer sought to calm such concerns.
“We were casting Michael Jackson in 2001 and that obviously is a challenge in terms of the physical resemblance,” he told told The Guardian.
“We were really looking for the performance that could unlock the spirit, and we really think Joe Fiennes has done that. He’s given a really sweet, nuanced, characterful performance.”
Nevertheless, a petition online calling for the episode to be boycotted reached 20,000 signatures.