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The Discovery television network on Friday said it canceled plans to air a reenactment of the autopsy on Michael Jackson's body, citing an upcoming court hearing and concern by the late pop star's estate.

The show, "Michael Jackson's Autopsy: What Really Killed Michael Jackson," had been set to air in several countries of western Europe and in the United Kingdom on January 13.

"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," Discovery Networks International said in a statement.

A Discovery spokesman declined comment beyond the statement.

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The "Thriller" singer died suddenly of a prescription drug overdose on June 25, 2009, age 50, only weeks before beginning a series of comeback concerts. An autopsy by Los Angeles officials showed Jackson died chiefly of an overdose of the powerful anesthetic propofol that he used as a sleep aid.

Discovery's show, which was not scheduled to air in the United States, was an unofficial, fictional account of what the autopsy must have been like and its results.

But Jackson fans worldwide protested in an online petition launched earlier this month, and the co-executors of his estate sent a letter this week to Discovery Networks calling the program "insensitive" and "in shockingly bad taste."

A print advertisement for the program shows a body covered by a sheet, with one hand poking out wearing the singer's well-known sequined glove.

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"On behalf of Michael's family, fans, common sense and decency, we urge you to reconsider and cancel this program," co-executors John McClain and John Branca wrote in the letter.

An estate spokesman was not immediately available to comment.

Jackson's physician at the time of his death, Dr. Conrad Murray, has admitted giving the singer propofol, which is often used in surgery, and Murray has been charged by authorities with involuntary manslaughter in Jackson's death.

Murray has pleaded not guilty, and a preliminary hearing to determine if enough evidence exists to make him stand trial begins in Los Angeles on January 4.

(Editing by Christine Kearney)

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