Controversial Michael Jackson Comedy Pulled by Sky Following Criticism From Family
"We set out to take a lighthearted look at reportedly true events and never intended to cause any offense," the company said about the episode of 'Urban Myths' featuring Joseph Fiennes as the late music star.
U.K. pay-TV giant Sky said Friday it has decided not to air a TV program about Michael Jackson after his daughter, Paris Jackson, said she was "incredibly offended" by the portrayal of the late music star.
The episode was scheduled to be part of a series called Urban Myths and was set to air on Sky Arts on Jan. 19. It focused on Jackson's fabled road trip from New York to Los Angeles with Elizabeth Taylor and Marlon Brando after the 9/11 attacks.
Joseph Fiennes played Jackson in a controversial decision, Stockard Channing portrayed Taylor, and Brian Cox played Brando.
"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," said Sky. "We set out to take a lighthearted look at reportedly true events and never intended to cause any offense."
Sky added: "Joseph Fiennes fully supports our decision."
On Thursday, Paris tweeted following the release of a trailer for the episode. She said the trailer made her "want to vomit." She added: "It angers me to see how obviously intentional it was for them to be this insulting, not just towards my father, but my godmother Liz as well."
A petition to boycott the episode was launched and drew more than 20,000 signatures.
Amid backlash last year to the casting of a white man as the King of Pop, Fiennes told The Hollywood Reporter that, though the program was "not a biopic," he understood why people were "up in arms."
"The decision with the casting and the producers — I wrangled with it, I was confused and shocked at what might come my way," said the actor. "And I knew the sensitivity, especially to Michael's fans and to Michael's family. It doesn't negate who he was."