Joseph Fiennes Michael Jackson

Sky Scraps Urban Myths Ep Focused On Joseph Fiennes' Michael Jackson

Following outcries from both family and fans alike, the UK’s Sky Arts has decided not to broadcast a forthcoming television episode featuring the late Michael Jackson portrayed by white actor Joseph Fiennes.

The episode in question, from the television show Urban Myths, was based on a 2011 article in Vanity Fair that alleged that the King of Pop, Elizabeth Taylor and Marlon Brando road-tripped to Ohio shortly after the 9/11 attacks. Controversy erupted after a trailer was released on Tuesday, including comment from Jackson’s daughter, Paris, who was said to be “incredibly offended” by the portrayal.

“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,” a company spokesperson said in a statement to our sister site Deadline. “We set out to take a light-hearted look at reportedly true events and never intended to cause any offense. Joseph Fiennes fully supports our decision.”

Discussing the controversy with Entertainment Tonight in 2016, Fiennes said, “[Jackson] definitely had an issue, a pigmentation issue, and that’s something I do believe. He was probably closer to my color than his original color.” Fiennes also insisted that his portrayal was “not in any way malicious. It’s actually endearing.” Now, the world may never know.

Do you think Sky Arts has made the right decision by scrapping the episode altogether? Are you shocked it was even greenlit in the first place?

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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37 Comments
  1. Shamone! I’ll wait for the inevitable leak.

  2. Oliver says:

    Like it or not, Michael Jackson was white in his later years. Whether his colour was a result of a skin condition or not (which is questionable), the plastic surgery he had on his face (especially his nose) gave him typically white features and to deny that would just be silly. I’m struggling to think of a black actor who could play him and somehow manage to look anything like him.

  3. Dennis says:

    Wow, I’m a liberal and even I think that the county has become too soft, too politically correct, and too influenced by the social-media-Twitter minority (absolutely a minority, as it does not speak for the whole entire country.
    Let people form their own opinions, after it has aired…now we may never know.

    • Mollie says:

      You do realize black peokw come on all shades. For example the following people are black or at least half black: Mariah Carey, Wentworth Miller, Nicole Richie, Meghan Markle, Lenny Kravitz so miss me with a ‘black actor’ couldn’t have played him. It’s stupid and a way to rationalize an offensive portrayal of this man. Besides his family was offended. We don’t get to choose that for them because Michael was a celebrity. That’s theirs. Knock it off.

  4. cuius says:

    Given past history, presumably there was not enough “consideration” involved

  5. Douglas from Brazil says:

    God forbid a white actor play a black turned white person on TV or movies. But having people of color playing white people is always OK.

  6. quang says:

    I think the whole whire-washed thing is only a partial reason for the backlash and the cancellation. Most of the backlash was due to the fact that Ralph looks both comically terrible and nothing like MJ. If they had cast another white actor who actaully resembles MJ – like Nip/Tuck’s John Hensley- far fewer people would care.

  7. Amber says:

    You can take the race issue out of it. It was just a stupid an unnecessary idea and I can’t imagine who wouldn’t cringe watching this. If they can’t remake, reboot, or make a prequel this is the best they could come up with? This picture alone makes me long for the Charmed reboot.

  8. Jason says:

    My main thought is that I hope something similar never happens to Drunk History, because this show seems to be coming from a like minded mentality. Having never seen it, it’s hard to judge completely. Had a black actor in white face makeup played the role, would there have been the same uproar? Do we so prefer to imagine Michael as he was in his prime, that we have an extreme reaction to any representation of him as he later became. We cringe as if it’s a violent assault on our own memory. Comedy is often transgressive. If we start censoring it because of our discomfort, then we’re on a slippery slope into PC oblivion.

  9. Eran says:

    Right, I’ll bite. So who should play later-years Michael Jackson? Cuba Gooding Jr.? Idris Elba? Honest to effin’ god, the man was whiter than Casper the friendly ghost! And if it had been an English black man? Would that have made it all better? Michael Jackson bent identity into so many shapes, forms and colours that for anyone to take preposterous offence at one representation of him as being less true or honest over another is simply ridiculous, PC revisionism.

  10. dab1984 says:

    I’m offended that he was a pedophile.

  11. James R. says:

    I was offended, but only because I thought Jared from Subway was a better fit for this role.

  12. Lynn says:

    So black actors playing Alexander Hamilton and George Washington is not only ok it’s celebrated as great art but a white person playing a black person who, sorry looked more white at the end is a great outrage. Don’t get me wrong, this looked absolutely terrible but I hate that the politically correct have gotten something censored. You have all kinds of sex, murder, rape and crimes shown all over the place on tv yet everyone’s up in arms over this stupid thing.

  13. herman1959 says:

    Yes, I’m glad it was cancelled and yes, I can’t believe it was ever greenlit.

  14. jj says:

    well to quote Jackson, “it doesn’t matter if you’re black or white”. Regardless of the ethnicity of an actor, nobody could get the proper look of Michael in the later years. Not because of skin color, but because of the extensive plastic surgery. Any attempt to give an actor Michael’s extensively plastic surgery look will end up looking like a caricature which many will find offensive.

  15. Jill says:

    I only see Matt Lauer in these photos, not Michael Jackson or Joseph Fiennes!