Joseph Fiennes in Park City, Utah, on Jan. 24.
Jerod Harris—Getty
Updated: January 27, 2016 1:28 PM ET | Originally published: January 27, 2016 8:42 AM EST

Correction appended, Jan. 27

Yes, you read that right: Joseph Fiennes will play Michael Jackson in a half-hour British TV comedy special about the King of Pop trying to escape New York City with Elizabeth Taylor and Marlon Brando after the events 9/11.

If that sounds like bizarre celebrity fan fiction, there may be some truth to it, according to The Guardian. The show, to be aired on Sky Arts, is based on a Vanity Fair story that cites a former Jackson employee and alleges that the superstar, along with his friends Taylor and Brando, tried to get back to Los Angeles by car after the attacks, driving as far as Ohio. (Versions of the story differ, however—an assistant of Taylor has said the actress stayed behind.)

Fiennes’ casting is already causing controversy among audiences who think it’s in poor taste for a white actor to play one of the most successful black entertainers in music history given the limited opportunities available to non-white actors in the film and television industries.

A Sky spokesman said in a statement to TIME that the company “gives producers the creative freedom to cast roles as they wish, within the diversity framework which we have set.”

[The Guardian]

Correction: The original version of this story incorrectly described the format of the show starring Joseph Fiennes. It will be a half-hour comedy special.

Write to Nolan Feeney at

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