White actor Joseph Fiennes to play Michael Jackson in TV drama

January 27, 2016
Joseph Fiennes will star as Michael Jackson in a TV drama set to broadcast later this year, it was reported on Wednesday, Jan. 27, 2016. The white British star of “Shakespeare in Love” plays the late King of Pop in “Elizabeth, Michael and Marlon,” alongside Stockard Channing as Elizabeth Taylor and Brian Cox as Marlon Brando. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP, File)

LONDON (AP) — Joseph Fiennes will star as Michael Jackson in a one-off TV comedy set to broadcast later this year — a casting decision that has added fuel to a raging debate about opportunities for non-white actors in movies and TV.

 

The white British star of "Shakespeare in Love" plays the black King of Pop in "Elizabeth, Michael & Marlon," alongside Stockard Channing as Elizabeth Taylor and Brian Cox as Marlon Brando.

 

The script is based on a possibly fictitious road trip the three stars are rumored to have made in an attempt to leave New York after the famous 9/11 attacks on New York City.

 

Sky Arts, which commissioned the drama, confirmed the casting and said Wednesday that the show is in post-production and is due to air in 2016. The channel said it was "part of a series of comedies about unlikely stories from arts and cultural history."

 

Jackson had vitiligo, a condition that causes patchy loss of skin pigmentation, and his complexion lightened dramatically as he grew older. He died in 2009 aged 50.

 

The casting news comes amid a debate about lack of diversity in Hollywood, sparked by an all-white slate of Academy Awards acting nominees.

 

Iranian-British comedian Shappi Khorsandi tweeted: "Joseph Fiennes is playing Michael Jackson? Fab. Now we can all shut up about lack of diversity."

 

Sky said the network "puts the integrity of the creative vision at the heart of all its original commissions."

 

"We believe in giving producers the creative freedom to cast roles as they wish, within the diversity framework which we have set," Sky said in a statement released by a spokeswoman.

 

Meanwhile many fans around the world have taken to social media to express their disapproval:

 

"I can't even comment on this Michael Jackson/Joseph Fiennes thing.  It's so ridiculous that it feels like we're all being punk'd," one Twitter user said.

 

"Joseph Fiennes can play Michael Jackson. (A real person). But Idris can't play James Bond (a fake spy for a fake agency)?  Cool, cool, cool," another stated.

 

"Too crazy for words! #JosephFiennes playing Michael Jackson! What next? Tom Cruise playing Muhammad Ali?  Uma Thurman playing Rosa Parks?" another user mocked.

 

 

 

 

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