Trailer Is Out for Show Starring White Guy as Michael Jackson

Joseph Fiennes stars as the King of Pop in TV special
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 11, 2017 10:58 AM CST

Behold, white British actor Joseph Fiennes playing black American King of Pop Michael Jackson. You can do just that now that the first trailer is out for the TV special in which Fiennes as Jackson, Stockard Channing as Elizabeth Taylor, and Brian Cox as Marlon Brando depict a road trip the odd trio supposedly once took from New York to Ohio after the 9/11 terror attacks. The story may not actually be true; it will be featured on new series Urban Myths on the arts-oriented channel Sky Arts, E! reports. The show, whose tagline is "True...ish Stories," will run eight 30-minute episodes telling similarly strange may-or-may-not-have-actually-happened stories, per the British Comedy Guide. It debuts in the UK Jan. 19, but the Michael Jackson episode isn't slated until April.

Needless to say, the casting of Fiennes as Jackson has caused some controversy:

  • E!'s take on it: "Throughout a lifetime, there will come occasions in which a person has to show restraint. Take the high road. Do absolutely everything in their power not to say what is on their minds. ... This is one of those times."
  • Slate does not take that road. Fiennes has "been made up with skin the color and texture of uncooked pizza dough and a nose that looks like an unintentional tribute to Jackson’s character from The Wiz," writes Sam Adams. "In short, it’s a nightmare."
  • "People aren't quite sure how to feel," notes Rebecca Hawkes at the Telegraph. "The predominant emotion appears to be horror and dismay." She rounds up some of the best tweets on the matter.
  • USA Today simply calls the images of Fiennes as Jackson "unsettling." Rolling Stone chooses "bizarre" to describe the trailer as a whole. And Jezebel goes with "horrifying" and "insane."
(Read more Michael Jackson stories.)

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