Joseph Fiennes to play Michael Jackson in 9/11 TV comedy

Stockard Channing will star opposite him as Elizabeth Taylor

Joseph Fiennes has been cast as Michael Jackson in Elizabeth, Michael & Marlon, a forthcoming TV comedy from Sky Arts.

The one-off 30-minute comedy is based on an urban legend, entertainingly documented in a 2011 Vanity Fair article, which claims Jackson, Elizabeth Taylor and Marlon Brando fled New York City together in a rental car in the wake of 9/11.

According to the legend, Jackson had invited the Hollywood icons to his concert at Madison Square Garden and after the 9/11 attacks, when all air travel was cancelled, the trio decided to take a road trip to safety in California. “They actually got as far as Ohio – all three of them, in a car they drove themselves,” a former employee of Jackson later claimed. Along the way, they apparently made pitstops at several fast food restaurants.

Alongside Shakespeare In Love actor Fiennes, Stockard Channing has been cast as Elizabeth Taylor and veteran actor Brian Cox (Rushmore, Troy) will play Brando. Journalist/author Neil Forsyth, the creator of cult BBC Four sitcom Bob Servant Independent, has written the script.

Fiennes said of the one-off comedy: “It’s a fun, 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.”

Meanwhile, a Sky Arts spokesperson added: “Elizabeth, Michael & Marlon is a Sky Arts comedy which takes a light hearted look at a reportedly true event; Joseph Fiennes is cast as Michael Jackson. 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.”

Elizabeth, Michael & Marlon will premiere on Sky Arts later this year.