Sky Arts made the announcement Friday, via Twitter, saying it had elected not to air the episode "Elizabeth, Michael & Marlon" due to "concerns expressed by Michael Jackson's immediate family." The episode was scheduled to broadcast on Jan. 19, and would have featured Stockard Channing as Elizabeth Taylor and Brian Cox as Marlon Brando.
Though many people expressed skepticism when Fiennes, a white actor, was cast to play Jackson, a black singer, the "concerns" referenced by Sky Arts are likely in reference to the reaction after the first footage of Fiennes as Jackson was released earlier this week, to much horror and Internet hilarity. Members of Jackson's family, including his daughter Paris, took great offense to the images. His nephew Taj accused Sky Arts of "blatant disrespect."
Urban Myths is a new comedy series that puts its own spin on "(mostly) true stories," according to Sky Arts. The Michael Jackson episode was slated to be the series premiere.
According to Sky Arts' tweets, Fiennes "completely supports" the network's decision not to air the episode. See the network's full statement below.