By Daniel Kreps
British actor’s controversial casting features in anthology series about similarly strange and rumored “true…ish stories”
Joseph Fiennes (controversially) portrays Michael Jackson in the first trailer for a new comedy show that reimagines the urban legend about the King of Pop’s post-9/11 road trip with Marlon Brando and Elizabeth Taylor.
Originally called Elizabeth, Michael & Marlon, the film has since been retitled and integrated into Urban Myths: A Brand New Collection of Comedies, an anthology that revolves around other “true…ish stories” that have circulated as urban legends.
In the trailer, Fiennes’ Jackson appears as a largely silent, wild-eyed passenger as Taylor (played by Stockard Channing) and Brando (Brian Cox) drive cross-country after the airports have been shut down in the aftermath of 9/11.
At one point, the famous trio get pulled over by a highway patrolman who is shocked to encounter the three megastars in a rented red sedan.
“This is territory that is sensitive,” Fiennes previously said of the role after he was accused of “whitewashing” the singer. “One must determine if this portrayal is one that is going to be positive entertainment, and one that will not bring about division and put anyone’s noses out of joint, so I went with the mind that this was a positive light-hearted comedy.”
Sky Arts, which will broadcast Urban Myths in the United Kingdom, told Rolling Stone in a statement, “Joseph Fiennes is cast as Michael Jackson. It is part of a series of comedies about unlikely stories from arts and cultural history. Sky Arts gives producers the creative freedom to cast roles as they wish, within the diversity framework which we have set.”
Other Urban Myths stories include Cary Grant’s alleged love of LSD, a story about Adolf Hitler and “Hitler’s friend” and another episode involving Samuel Beckett. Eddie Marsan plays Bob Dylan in an episode about the singer’s search for someone named “Dave.”