Joseph Fiennes as Michael Jackson
Joseph Fiennes plays Michael Jackson in Urban Myths Sky Arts/Urban Myths

Sky Arts has decided not to air Elizabeth, Michael and Marlon, following criticism from the King of Pop's family. The half hour episode from the Urban Myths anthology series is based on a fable that the three icons Michael Jackson, Marlon Brando and Elizabeth Taylor made a road trip following the attack on the World Trade Center towers in September 2011.

Despite attempting to take a light hearted approach to the story, Sky was slammed for casting Joseph Fiennes, a white actor for the role of the black artiste.

"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," the network said in a statement.

"We set out to take a light-hearted look at reportedly true events and never intended to cause any offence. Joseph Fiennes fully supports our decision."

The trailer for the TV film was released earlier this week to widespread criticism from Jackson's family, friends and fans. "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," the late singer's 18-year-old daughter Paris tweeted.

"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."

An online petition created to boycott the episode garnered more than 21,000 people. "It's easy to see why the story would make a compelling film - but it's harder to understand why the actor best known for his role in Shakespeare In Love was the first choice to play one of the world's most iconic black musicians," the petition stated.

The film was slated to release on 19 January on Sky Arts.