Long before David Tennant renewed Doctor Who's place as a cultural phenomenon, the famous Time Lord was nearly set to regenerate as one of two men who could have catapulted the character's star power in an instant. According to The Times, Michael Jackson and Bill Cosby were the top two choices that Paramount had selected to play the Doctor in a 1988 picture that never came to be. The King of Pop was the studio's first choice, while Cosby was considered as a backup.
The choice of Jackson was apparently based on the singer's success in the film Moonwalker earlier that year. While the details are reported in The Times, Paramount's unlikely casting choices are coming to light thanks to a new book, Now On The Big Screen: The Unofficial And Unauthorised Guide To Doctor Who At The Cinema, which chronicles the many efforts to bring Doctor Who to film. It's not clear why the picture never made it through initial development, but it certainly would have put a much different spin on the Doctor's history.