Well, it seems you won’t get watch Joseph Fiennes do a half-hour impression of Michael Jackson after all.
As unveiled in a since-removed promo earlier this week, the actor that you didn’t know existed outside of Shakespeare in Love and Enemy at the Gates was meant to appear as the King of Pop in an episode of Urban Myths, an upcoming Sky Arts comedy series about strange-but-possibly-true celebrity stories. But upon the footage’s debut, it was immediately met by outcry for Fiennes’ portrayal of Jackson. Firstly, there was the obvious discomfort over a white guy playing a black man—even one who, at that point in his life, had more a more Anglo-Saxon appearance than not. Secondly, he was doing a mocking, hammy impersonation of a recently-deceased icon while wearing makeup that made him look like a revolting Criss Angel Muppet. At one level or another, it was pretty gross. Unsurprisingly, Jackson’s own daughter also thought it was gross, saying, “I’m so incredibly offended by it, as I’m sure plenty of people are as well, and it honestly makes me want to vomit. It angers me to see how obviously intentional it was for them to be this insulting, not just towards my father, but my godmother Liz as well.”
So, now Sky Arts is pulling the episode. In a statement today, the network wrote, “We have taken the decision not to broadcast Elizabeth, Michael and Marlon, a half-hour episode from the Sky Arts Urban Myths series, in light of the concerns expressed by Michael Jackson’s immediate family. We set out to take a lighthearted look at reportedly true events and never intended to cause any offense. Joseph Fiennes fully supports our decision.” Audiences will instead just have to confirm that Fiennes is still around with Hulu’s The Handmaid’s Tale, the dystopian series premiering April 26.