British actor Joseph Fiennes will star as Michael Jackson in a made-for-TV British comedy. Though some were enthusiastic about the news, many argued that it was outrageous that a white actor would play the King of Pop.
According to the Guardian, the script is based on a - possibly fictitious - post 9/11 road trip between the King of Pop, Elizabeth Taylor and Marlon Brando
I'm TOTALLY on board with Joseph Fiennes playing Michael Jackson IF AND ONLY IF Angela Bassett is cast as Elizabeth Taylor— Orlando Jones (@TheOrlandoJones) January 27, 2016
BRILLIANT! Ordered my violet contacts & bathed in White Diamonds this morning, so I'm READY! Let's do this! xo! Ang https://t.co/E8O4NY438y— Angela Bassett (@ImAngelaBassett) January 27, 2016
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.
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.
Fiennes' agent did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
(The Associated Press contributed to this story)