That Weird Michael Jackson Episode Shelved By Urban Myths After Backlash

joseph fiennes michael jackson

In "It Feels Weird That It Took This Long To Get To This Point" news, the upcoming comedy anthology TV series Urban Myths, which inexplicably cast Joseph Fiennes to portray Michael Jackson for an episode, has announced that episode has been pulled from the series' line-up. Why? Because of the backlash that immediately followed the first trailer's release, which gave audiences their first look at Fiennes' King of Pop. I imagine a lot of foreheads are currently being slapped at the U.K. network Sky Arts.

First announced some months back as more of a TV movie and then more recently revealed to be part of an overarching series, the episode in question, "Elizabeth, Michael and Marlon," sounded ridiculous from the start and appeared destined to cause outrage. And even though the trailer released yesterday is a light-hearted and rather silly promo that doesn't intentionally strike out to be insulting, Joseph Fiennes' overwrought makeup applications stuck out like the gnarliest sore thumb. And once Michael Jackson's daughter Paris caught wind of it, her opinion popped up everywhere.

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Paris Jackson's posts went on, and none of them got any more willing to cut the Urban Myths episode any slack. (Understandable.) And it's not as if a lot of Michael Jackson's fans were willing to go unheard after the trailer premiered, either. So, in the face of all that, Sky decided to can the episode (for now at least), releasing the following statement, according to Deadline.

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 offense. Joseph Fiennes fully supports our decision.

If we can take a step back for a second, how generally absurd is it that an episode about a road trip between Michael Jackson, Elizabeth Taylor (Stockard Channing) and Marlon Brando (Brian Cox) has been deemed too insulting and inappropriate for audiences, but the same series features Game of Thrones' Iwan Rheon playing a pre-tyrant Adolf Hitler, and far fewer eyelashes were batted over that. I'm not trying to say what's right or wrong here, I'm just saying any situation where M.J. is more offensive than Ramsay Bolton's Hitler is a bizarre one. I wonder if this will stop any future Jackson-related TV projects from moving forward.

You can take a peek at the full trailer below, which also features Timothy Leary and Cary Grant getting trippy, Eddie Marsan's Bob Dylan, Samuel Beckett and more.

With the rest of the episodes still set to air as intended, Urban Myths will debut on Sky Arts in the U.K. on Thursday, January 19. To see what's coming to the small screen here in the States, head to our midseason premiere schedule.

Nick Venable
Assistant Managing Editor

Nick is a Cajun Country native, and is often asked why he doesn't sound like that's the case. His love for his wife and daughters is almost equaled by his love of gasp-for-breath laughter and gasp-for-breath horror. A lifetime spent in the vicinity of a television screen led to his current dream job, as well as his knowledge of too many TV themes and ad jingles.