The entertainment industry is in an uproar after British actor Joseph Fiennes was cast as iconic African-American pop star Michael Jackson in an upcoming TV comedy.
According to AFP via AsiaOne, Fiennes, who is white, will play the late King of Pop in a comedy that is about a road trip across the United States that the singer is said to have taken in 2001 with movie stars Elizabeth Taylor and Marlon Brando.
The show will air on Britain's satellite TV channel Sky Arts.
Sky Arts said in a statement on Wed (Jan 27) that the comedy, called Elizabeth, Michael & Marlon, is "Part of a series of comedies about unlikely stories from arts and cultural history" and that "Sky Arts gives producers the creative freedom to cast roles as they wish, within the diversity framework which we have set".
Jackson had the medical condition vitiligo that lightened the colour of his skin.
He passed away in June 2009 at the age of 50 after a sedative overdose.
The news of the casting sparked outrage online.
Stereo Williams, an entertainment writer for The Daily Beast, said the casting of Fiennes was a "symptom of Hollywood's deep-seated race problem".
"They seriously couldn't find a black actor to play Michael Jackson?" tweeted United States civil rights activist DeRay Mckesson, a member of the Black Lives Matter movement.
"So Joseph Fiennes (A WHITE DUDE!) is gunna play Michael Jackson... I say Denzel Washington plays Elvis in the next movie just to be fair," said @nicomadden on Twitter.