Join me, as we step back in time to the simpler and more innocent era of two days ago: the trailer for British TV network Sky Arts’ new program Urban Myths had just surfaced, teasing a collection of whimsical shorts featuring fictionalized versions of such celebrities as Bob Dylan, Adolf Hitler, and Cary Grant. One segment in particular commanded more headlines than any other, an episode featuring Liz Taylor, Marlon Brando, and Michael Jackson taking a drive through the country in the wake of 9/11. White actor Joseph Fiennes shocked everyone with his getup as the post-skin-whitening Jackson, and many cried foul at what is technically a blackface performance. The late King of Pop’s daughter Paris tweeted that she was “incredibly offended” by the performance and that it “makes [her] want to vomit.”
When noted British actor and confirmed Caucasian male Joseph Fiennes announced last year that he’d play Michael Jackson for an upcoming TV series called Urban Myths, the public had an understandably adverse reaction. Though Fiennes confirmed that he’d portray the King of Pop after he got his controversial skin-whitening procedure, the fact remains that a white man would be playing an African-American man in a confusing sort of blackface without a literal black face. The Fiennes’ credit, he’s confessed to The Hollywood Reporter that he understands “why people are up in arms,” but hopes that audiences will be a little more understanding when they see that the show takes all sorts of liberties with the personal lives of historical figures.
“You know the one where Michael Jackson dresses up as an old white guy and dances in a haunted house?” is a thing I’ve said to countless people about the short film Ghosts. But every time I mention the Michael Jackson and Stephen King collaboration, no one knows what I’m talking about. That’s right, the King of Pop and the master of horror made a short film together in 1996. While the film may have 14 million views on YouTube, I’ve only met one other person who can slightly recall the movie. In honor of Halloween, I’m looking back on the 15-year-old movie and trying to figure out why it’s been forgotten.
Dramatized event series of major cultural touchstones have been on fire since FX’s People v. O.J. Simpson, and it looks like Michael Jackson may next get the TV treatment. J.J. Abrams has re-teamed with Tavis Smiley for an event series based on the last days of pop icon Michael Jackson, based on author Smiley’s book.
The screenplay for Bubbles topped the 2015 Black List, but unlike many of the other scripts to land on the list over the years, we won’t have to wait very long to see this one make it to the big screen. Based on Michael Jackson’s pet chimpanzee (yes, really), Bubbles is a pretty weird story, to say the least, and one that requires an equally creative team to adapt it. Enter former Community showrunner and creator Dan Harmon, who is producing a stop-motion animated film based on Bubbles.
Today in news that sounds like a series of escalating dares: Joseph Fiennes is set to play Michael Jackson in an original dramedy film for British network Sky Arts, which will tell the story of how Jackson, Elizabeth Taylor and Marlon Brando allegedly piled into a car to escape New York following the 9/11 terrorist attack. Yes, as in that Michael Jackson.
In an interview with VICE, Ahmed Best, best known as the man who appeared in three less-than-enthusiastically received Star Wars prequels as the less-than-beloved Jar Jar Binks, says that while he was the one who ended up winning the role, there was a far more famous superstar who really wanted to play everyone’s ninth-favorite Gungan. And that man was Michael Jackson.
Although he passed away five years ago, Michael Jackson is still just as prolific as ever, and the King of Pop might be headed to the big screen soon as John Landis, director of the seminal music video "Thriller," has plans for a 3D rerelease. Well, eventually, anyway.