Casting of White Stage Actor to Play Michael Jackson Stirs Outcry

News   Casting of White Stage Actor to Play Michael Jackson Stirs Outcry
 
In the midst of backlash that the 2016 Academy Award nominations were egregiously lacking racial diversity, U.K.'s Sky Arts announced that British stage actor Joseph Fiennes has been cast to play King of Pop Michael Jackson in a new television film comedy.

"Elizabeth, Michael & Marlon," according to Deadline.com, tells the imagined story of an alleged road trip between Elizabeth Taylor, Michael Jackson and Marlon Brando in the aftermath of the 9/11 terror attacks. The project is inspired by a 2011 Vanity Fair article.

Joseph Fiennes
Joseph Fiennes

Fiennes, a white actor known for starring in "Shakespeare in Love," is cast as Jackson, with Tony Award winner Stockard Channing as Taylor and Olivier Award-winning U.K. stage actor Brian Cox as Brando.

Jackson, the black superstar who was launched from the Motown scene, suffered from the skin condition vitiligo later in life. However, investigators reported having found 30 tubes of skin whitening cream in his home following his death.

The network defended Fiennes' casting, saying, "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."

Filming on the project is already complete, and screenwriter Neil Forsyth said it would be released "soon."

Fiennes' casting comes on the heels of the news that the new "Absolutely Fabulous" movie cast Scottish actress Janette Tough to portray a Japanese fashion designer named "Huki Muki." Comedian and activist Margaret Cho called out the film's creators for the use of yellowface.

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