Hours after Sky Arts announced it would not air the controversial Michael Jackson episode of the British series Urban Myths, Lifetime has announced Jackson-related project of its own.
The network announced via press release on Friday that a Michael Jackson TV movie is currently in pre-production. The movie, working title Michael Jackson: Searching for Neverland, is based on the best-selling book, Remember the Time: Protecting Michael Jackson in His Final Days, and will begin filming in Los Angeles in February.
Searching for Neverland will tell the story of Jackson's final days through the eyes of his trusted bodyguards, Bill Whitfield and Javon Beard. The Walking Dead's Chad L. Coleman has been cast as Whitfield, while Michael Jackson tribute artist Navi will play the King of Pop, in his acting debut.
Suzanne de Passe, Madison Jones and Robert Teitel are executive producing the project, directed by Dianne Houston from a script written by Elizabeth Hunter.
While Lifetime's MJ project moves forward, Sky Arts confirmed to ET on Friday that its Urban Myths episode about the music icon, titled "Elizabeth, Michael and Marlon," had officially been cut. The network received overwhelming backlash after the first image from the project, featuring Joseph Fiennes as Jackson, was released on Tuesday.
"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," Sky Art's statement read. "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."
Paris Jackson was among the first of MJ's family to criticize the project, calling Fiennes' portrayal of her late father "shameful."
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