Upon hearing that Shakespeare In Love actor Joseph Fiennes was to play Michael Jackson in a short road trip movie about escaping the aftermath of 9/11, you’d have been forgiven for replying with something along the lines of: “don’t take the piss.”
Well it’s true, and now, following a trailer which elicited a response from Michael Jackson’s daughter Paris, who claimed the footage made her want to vomit, Sky Arts have promptly pulled the 30 minute episode as part of its Urban Myths series.
Telling the tale of a panicked Michael Jackson who gathered up Marlon Brando (played by Brian Cox) and Elizabeth Taylor (played by Stockard Channing) in a hire car and took them to a safe place in New Jersey in the wake of the 11 September attacks, Fiennes’ appearance in the trailer caused enough concern that a petition launched to boycott the episode gathered 20,000 signatures.
Explaining the move, Sky said:
"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."
We don’t know what Sky Arts were expecting. Did they genuinely think that Fiennes would be the perfect casting choice for this? Or were they just trying to stir up a bit of controversy and boost viewing figures? Well now they can’t show it at all.
Still, tune in to Sky Arts for what will be a memorable series from 19 January, which will also see Game Of Thrones’ Iwan Rheon play a young Adolf Hitler, Rupert Grint as Hitler’s mate, Eddie Marsen as Bob Dylan and David Threlfall as Samuel Beckett in a series of other short stories.