Given the current #OscarsSoWhite climate, the orchestration of the following news could’ve been timed better —you’ve likely seen reactions on social media, which range from "WTF" to straight-up outrage. Indeed, Joseph Fiennes is going to play Michael Jackson. Yeah, this sounds perfectly bonkers.
The project, titled "Marlon, Michael & Elizabeth," is a one-off, half-hour comedy for Britain’s Sky Arts, finding Brian Cox in the role of Marlon Brando and Stockard Channing as Elizabeth Taylor. The show will be based on a possibly true story (which Taylor’s friends deny) detailed in Vanity Fair that claims that after the 9/11 attacks, the trio left New York City (Jackson had just performed at two 30th Anniversary shows honoring his career at Madison Square Garden on Sept. 7th and Sept. 10) and promptly took a road trip.
Of course, getting a white British actor to play the dominant African-American performer of the past 35 years is sure to push buttons. It’s an uncomfortable and audacious move, but maybe the filmmakers should be allowed to succeed or fail first before we all get too worked up.
Ben Palmer ("Man Up," "The Inbetweeners Movie") will direct, and the show will air later this year. Sky Arts has released the following statement about the production:
‘Elizabeth, Michael & Marlon’ is a Sky Arts comedy which takes a light-hearted look at a reportedly true event; Joseph Fiennes is cast as Michael Jackson. It is part of a series of comedies about unlikely stories from arts and cultural history. Sky Arts gives producers the creative freedom to cast roles as they wish, within the diversity framework which we have set.
Let us know what you think in the comments section below. [Variety]