The casting of white actor Joseph Fiennes as Michael Jackson for a British TV show caused controversy when it was first announced last year, and following the release of the show’s first footage, members of the Jackson family are especially not happy about the casting.
Fiennes is portraying Jackson in an episode of Urban Myths, which features a number of stories that we’ve passed down over time. Fiennes’ episode is based on an unverified report that Jackson, Liz Taylor, and Marlon Brando took a road trip after 9/11, and while we don’t see much action in the trailer, we weren’t expecting Fiennes to look like he did.
Since the trailer debuted, members of the Jackson family have spoken out about the casting and how he’s portrayed in the show. After being asked her thoughts by a fan, Jackson’s daughter Paris Jackson ripped apart the show not just for how it’s appearing to portray her father but Taylor, who is her godmother, as well.
Jackson’s nephew Taj also spoke out against the show, calling it “blatant disrespect.”
— Taj Jackson (@tajjackson3) January 11, 2017
It’s not the only Urban Myths casting news to make headlines this week: Game of Thrones’ Iwan Rheon will also play a young Adolf Hitler in an upcoming episode. Urban Myths debuts on Sky Arts Jan. 19.
Update 7:18am CT, Jan. 13: Sky has pulled the Jackson episode of Urban Myths after complaints from the Jackson family. The episode was originally set to air in April, and Urban Myths director Ben Palmer had defended the choice as recently as this week, telling viewers not to rush to judgment.
“Sky is not in the habit of pulling programmes but we felt that this was the right decision to take,” Sky said in a statement. “Sky Arts puts the integrity of the creative vision at the heart of all of its original commissions, and casting decisions are made within the overall diversity framework which we have set.”
In light of this decision, the trailer (previously embedded above) has been removed from YouTube.