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The role of Jackson went to Joseph Fiennes, who starred as William Shakespeare inShakespeare in Love and is the brother of Maid In Manhattan star Ralph Fiennes. The Brit told WENNthat the script posed a “challenge” before elaborating

on the half-hour plotline. Fiennes said, “It’s a lovely thing about Michael’s relationship with Liz Taylor and Marlon Brando. It’s a fun, light-hearted 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.”

To the dismay of many, the one black protagonist in the comedic drama will be portrayed by a Caucasian. Casting directors may have been inspired by the lightness of Jackson’s skin exhibited in 2001 during the terrorist attacks. However, much of the pop singer’s acclaim is attributed to his door-opening actions for African-Americans and pride in his racial identity. The casting announcement for Elizabeth, Michael and Marlon simultaneously occurred as Comedy Central’s @midnight spoofed the Oscars’ lack of diversity with #MakeAMovieWhiter, prompting critics to add another hashtag and Fiennes to their existing discussions on inclusivity in film and television.

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Actor Orlando Jones tweeted, “I’m TOTALLY on board with Joseph Fiennes playing Michael Jackson IF AND ONLY IF Angela Bassett is cast as Elizabeth Taylor.” He then said, “I await the inevitable Oscar nom for the weirdest version of blackface EVER. #OscarsSoWTF. I’ve made my point. Trollando out.”

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