On the same day that a Michael Jackson-centric episode of Urban Myths was pulled from broadcast over its controversial casting, Lifetime revealed that the network is prepping their own biopic revolving around the King of Pop.
Tentatively titled Searching for Neverland, the Lifetime movie captures Jackson’s final years through the perspective of two of his personal bodyguards, Bill Whitfield and Javon Beard.
Navi, the self-proclaimed “world’s greatest Michael Jackson impersonator,” will make his acting debut portraying the late singer in the Lifetime biopic, and The Walking Dead vet Chad L. Coleman will portray Whitfield, The Wrap reports.
In Whitfield and Beard’s 2014 book Remember the Time: Protecting Michael Jackson in His Final Days, the duo wrote about protecting the Jackson family even as the King of Pop moved from city to city in the aftermath of his 2005 sexual abuse charges. The bodyguards remained under Jackson’s employ until the time of his 2009 death.
Biopics have become somewhat of a campy specialty for Lifetime in recent years, with the channel turning the lives of Brittany Murphy, Anna Nicole Smith, Toni Braxton, Whitney Houston and, in February, Britney Spears into TV movies.
Searching for Neverland isn’t the first time Jackson’s life story has been portrayed on television: 1992 saw the release of the miniseries The Jacksons: An American Dream, focused on the travails of the Jackson family. In 2004, VH1 premiered their film Man in the Mirror: The Michael Jackson Story, the Los Angeles Times reports.
Warner Bros. is also developing its own series about Jackson’s final weeks based on Tavis Smiley’s Before You Judge Me: The Triumph and Tragedy of Michael Jackson’s Last Days.
Producer Suzanne de Passe, who worked on the 1992 Jackson miniseries, will also serve that role on Searching for Neverland, with TV director Dianne Houston on board to helm the film.
While Jackson’s daughter Paris Jackson was vocal about her disapproval of the Urban Myths episode – it was her angry tweets that ultimately resulted in the episode, which starred British actor Joseph Fiennes as Jackson, being pulled – she has not yet commented on social media about the planned Lifetime biopic. Searching for Neverland starts production in February.