Urban Myths: Elizabeth, Michael & Marlon
Urban Myths: Elizabeth, Michael & Marlon

Sky Arts is to broadcast a season of comedies under the title “Urban Myths.”

The eight one-off shows will “look at remarkable stories from well known historical, artistic and cultural figures, which may or may not have happened in real life…”

The channel will begin broadcasting the series starting later this month.

Per the press release from the network, each of the eight original titles in the series has its own unique take on an Urban Myth; some well-known and some that will delight viewers with their obscurity. Using a generous dose of artistic license, the comedies are designed to mischievously spark viewers’ imaginations and answer the question: If these events really did happen, how might they have played out?

Two episodes of the series of note (given this blog’s interests) are:

— “Urban Myths: Elizabeth, Michael & Marlon”

A comedy drama written by Neil Forsyth that imagines what would have happened if long-time friends Elizabeth Taylor, Michael Jackson and Marlon Brando had hired a Budget rental car together to escape Manhattan during the September 11th attacks.

Elizabeth Taylor is played by Stockard Channing, Michael Jackson by Joseph Fiennes and Marlon Brando by Brian Cox. This episode also features one of the final performances of “Star Wars” actor Carrie Fisher. She plays a burger flipper in a diner that the trio visit.

You’ll recall, almost exactly a year ago, when it was announced that Joseph Fiennes would be playing Michael Jackson; although at the time we didn’t know that it would be an episode within a series titled “Urban Myths.” Fiennes and the producers of the project found themselves on the receiving end of much criticism for casting Fiennes (a white actor) to play Michael Jackson. But Fiennes, seemingly not bothered by any of it, defended the project at the time, stating: “It’s a challenge. It’s a comedy. It doesn’t poke mean fun but it’s a story, possibly urban legend… It’s a lovely thing about Michael’s relationship with Liz Taylor and Marlon Brando. It’s a fun, light-hearted tongue-in-cheek road trip of what celebrity of that kind is like. But also it’s rather beautiful and poignant about their relationships as well.”

Needless to say, now that the project has been made and is set to premiere in the UK later this month, I’m sure the initial controversy will resurface, especially in light of #OscarsSoWhite and #BaftaBlackout.

— “Urban Myths: Muhammad Ali”

In the early 1980s, after his recent and high profile defeat to Larry Holmes, boxing legend Muhammad Ali takes it upon himself to talk a suicidal stranger down from a ledge. Using his unique brand of wit and wisdom, he succeeds in persuading the man that life is worth living, and learns a huge amount about himself in the process.

This offering has been written and produced by Neil Webster, and features Noel Clarke as Muhammad Ali.

The remaining 5 include “Urban Myths” about Bob Dylan; Samuel Beckett And Andre The Giant’ Hitler The Artist; Cary Grant And Timothy Leary; The Sex Pistols; Salvador Dali and Alice Cooper.

Phil Edgar-Jones, Director of Sky Arts, says: “We are always looking at new ways of shining a light on the wonderfully bizarre and endlessly fascinating worlds you find across the Arts, and our brand new series of Urban Myths does just that, exploring those tales we’ve kind of heard of and hope are true. We are delighted that some of Britain’s most talented and loved writers, directors and performers have had such a lot of fun with these tales and let their imagination and creative brilliance beam out from every frame.”

No word on whether these will travel west to the USA for American audiences to watch.

A trailer has premiered for the entire series which is embedded below: