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Today in “yes, really”: Joseph Fiennes to play Michael Jackson in 9/11 dramedy

Joseph Fiennes in Shakespeare In Love
Joseph Fiennes in Shakespeare In Love

Although “Michael Jackson, Elizabeth Taylor, and Marlon Brando take a road trip to Ohio together” sounds like the setup for a joke, it’s actually the subject of an upcoming film from Sky Arts. According to The Guardian, the network is developing a movie about an urban legend involving the late icons fleeing New York City together after the 9/11 attacks. Unable to fly out of the city, Taylor, Jackson, and Brando supposedly attempted to drive home to California from New York, but only made it as far as Ohio. The story of their trip, which even inspired a short story by Zadie Smith, first started making the rounds in 2011 after Taylor’s former personal assistant gabbed to Vanity Fair.

Now that legendary trip will be dramatized by Sky Arts—who will also soon bring you a night with Phil Collins—with a script by Scottish journalist and author of Other People’s Money, Neil Forsyth. Alternately described as a comedy and drama, the as-yet-untitled road-trip movie has already found its three leads: Stockard Channing has signed on to play Elizabeth Taylor, Brian Cox will star as Marlon Brando, and Joseph Fiennes will play Michael Jackson. Fiennes is an, um, interesting choice to play the pop star, which would suggest that this is yet another rumor. But the actor’s confirmed his part, and has taken to describing the movie as a comedy, while insisting that it doesn’t intend to “poke mean fun.” Maybe Sky Arts thinks it has another I’m Not There on its hands?

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