Remember all those jokes about Michael Jackson’s skin lightening in his later years due to his rare skin condition, vitiligo? Turns out they’re not so funny, especially when someone tries to bring them to life. British TV channel Sky Arts has pulled a controversial installment of its anthology comedy series Urban Myths after Jackson’s family criticized white actor Joseph Fiennes’ casting as her father.
A trailer for the series debuted on Wednesday, and Jackson’s daughter Paris responded almost immediately. Replying to a tweet calling for a boycott of the “culturally insensitive” episode, Paris said, “I’m so incredibly offended by it, as i’m sure plenty of people are as well, and it honestly makes me want to vomit.” A petition to boycott the episode also gained over 20,000 signatures, according to Billboard.
As a result, Sky has now yanked the episode from its schedule. “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,” the network said in a statement. “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.”
Urban Myths features comedic retellings of maybe-true celebrity stories. The controversial Jackson episode was to tell the tale of how the singer, Marlon Brando and Elizabeth Taylor supposedly tried to road trip from New York to California after the 9/11 attacks. The only real downside to the episode being pulled is that it negates the brilliant casting of Brian Cox as Brando and Stockard Channing as Taylor.
Urban Myths will still air beginning January 19th with episodes about Bob Dylan (Eddie Marsan), Cary Grant (Ben Chaplin) and LSD guru Dr. Timothy Leary (Aidan Gillen), and Adolf Hitler (Ivan Rheon) and a close friend (Rupert Grint). Watch the new trailer — without Fiennes’ Jackson — below.