Michael Jackson autopsy show cancelled
Thousands of late singer's fans protest planned Discovery program
The Discovery television network said Friday it has cancelled plans to air a program that claims to be a medical documentary re-enacting the autopsy performed on Michael Jackson.
Michael Jackson's Autopsy: What Really Killed Michael Jackson was set to air in Britain and several western European countries on Jan. 13.
But Discovery Networks International announced the cancellation in a statement.
"Given the commencement of legal proceedings beginning next week, and at the request of Michael Jackson's estate, the scheduled broadcast of the medical documentary related to Michael Jackson's official autopsy has been postponed indefinitely," it said, referring to the preliminary hearing of Dr. Conrad Murray, who has been charged in Jackson's death.
More than 9,000 of the late singer's fans around the world protested the program in an online petition launched earlier this month.
"We ask the directors of the Discovery Channel programming to proceed with the outright cancellation of this indecent documentary," the petition read.
As well, the executors of Jackson's estate sent a letter to Discovery CEO David Zaslav urging him to cancel the fictitious account of what the autopsy might have been like.
"Your decision to even schedule this program is in shockingly bad taste and insensitive to Michael's family," wrote co-executors John Branca and John McClain.
An advertisement for the program depicted a body covered by a sheet. One hand, wearing a sequined glove — a Jackson trademark — is visible.
"Discovery obviously views this as clever advertising and creative 'branding' for its program," Branca and McClain wrote.
The program had not been scheduled in Canada or the U.S.
Jackson was 50 when he died on June 25, 2009. The autopsy performed by the Los Angeles County Coroner's Office showed he died of an overdose of the surgical anesthetic propofol.
The preliminary hearing of Murray, who was Jackson's physician when the singer was preparing for a series of sold-out shows in London, England, starts Tuesday,
Charged with involuntary manslaughter, Murray has pleaded not guilty.