Joseph Fiennes to play Michael Jackson in upcoming TV drama

Joseph Fiennes to play Michael Jackson in TV Drama

UPDATE: TJ Jackson, Michael Jackson’s nephew and legal guardian of his three children, gave the following statement to Entertainment Tonight:

“It’s offensive to me and my family for my uncle Michael to be portrayed in a comedy taking place around 9/11. Like everyone else, he was distraught, saddened and trying to process what had just happened. Following the events of 9/11, my uncle, Michael, stayed with a family friend in New Jersey for a week before flying back. The rest of our family immediately took buses back to Los Angeles as planes were grounded. There was no road trip with Elizabeth Taylor and Marlon Brando. I have no comment on the casting of the project.”

ORIGINAL STORY: Joseph Fiennes is set to star as pop superstar Michael Jackson in a TV drama set to broadcast later this year.

The white British star of Shakespeare in Love will play the late King of Pop in Elizabeth, Michael and Marlon alongside Stockard Channing as Elizabeth Taylor and Brian Cox as Marlon Brando.

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The script is based on a — possibly fictitious — road trip the three stars are rumoured to have made in an attempt to leave New York after the Sept. 11 attacks.

READ MORE: Charlotte Rampling, Oscar nominee: #OscarsSoWhite “racist to whites”

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.

Twitter exploded with incredulous reactions about the casting.

The casting news comes amid the intense #OscarsSoWhite debate about lack of diversity in Hollywood, sparked by an all-white slate of Academy Awards acting nominees.

READ MORE: Chris Rock remains Oscars host, writing “new show” to address #OscarsSoWhite

The nominees for the 2016 Academy Awards were announced on Jan. 14, and immediately after they were revealed, the Internet exploded with anger and vitriol. For the second straight year, there were no nominees of colour in the Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Supporting Actor and Best Supporting Actress categories.

Directors Spike Lee and Michael Moore, along with actors Jada Pinkett Smith and Will Smith, have all announced they’re boycotting the Oscars ceremony due to the#OscarsSoWhite controversy.

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With files from The Associated Press