UPDATE with more details: Joseph Fiennes is playing King of Pop Michael Jackson in a one-off TV movie/sketch comedy special for the UK’s Sky Arts, the network confirmed to Deadline today. Titled Elizabeth, Michael & Marlon, it’s the story of an alleged road trip undertaken by Jackson, Elizabeth Taylor and Marlon Brando following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. Stockard Channing is playing Taylor and Brian Cox is Brando.
Sky Arts says it has no airdate for the special, which it said was filmed in the later part of last year and is in postproduction, but a 2016 premiere is planned. It is part of a series of comedies about unlikely stories from arts and cultural history. Sky Arts calls Elizabeth, Michael & Marlon a comedy “which takes a lighthearted look at a reportedly true event.” Little Rock Pictures is producing.
Addressing the casting of a white actor as Jackson, Sky Arts says the network “gives producers the creative freedom to cast roles as they wish, within the diversity framework which we have set.”
The trio’s improbable journey was first detailed in a Vanity Fair article in 2011. It was said that Jackson had invited Taylor and Brando to concerts he was giving that month in New York. In an attempt to get out of the city after the attacks, the trio was said to have rented a car and made it to Ohio. But, one of Taylor’s assistants told VF that Taylor was not among the party, and the story is often considered urban legend.
Fiennes told WENN that Elizabeth, Michael & Marlon is a comedy that “doesn’t poke mean fun” but is “a lighthearted tongue-in-cheek road trip of what celebrity of that kind is like. But also it’s rather beautiful and poignant about their relationships as well.”
News of the casting was first reported by Broadcast back in December, but evidently got lost in the holiday shuffle.