Harry Connick Jr. Objects to Jackson Five Blackface Sketch
Harry Connick, Jr.
Harry Connick Jr. found himself at the center of a TV scandal when he appeared as a guest judge on a popular Australian variety show.
The singer-actor became visibly uncomfortable when a group of doctors did a Jackson Five routine in blackface and Afro wigs on Hey Hey It's Saturday. The man portraying Michael Jackson, however, was smeared in white makeup.
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Connick gave the performance a score of zero and said if it had aired in the United States, the show would have been pulled off the air. While one of the other judges gave the performance a similarly low score, the other complimented the choreography and gave the group a seven.
The variety show's host, Daryl Sommers, apologized to the crooner at the end of the program, noting that it was insulting to Americans. Connick agreed.
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"I just want to say, on behalf of my country, I know it was done humorously, but we've spent so much time trying to not make black people look like buffoons, that when we see something like that we take it really to heart," he said. " I know it was in good fun, and the last thing I want to do is take this show to a down level...but I feel like I'm at home here, and if I knew that was going to be part of the show, I definitely wouldn't have done it."
Connick, however, has since been called a hypocrite, with detractors citing his portrayal of a Southern minister on Mad TV in 1996 as equally racist and offensive. Connick said he still stands by his comments about the Australian show.
Anand Deva, the frontman of the group, which called itself "Jackson Jive," said the performance was not meant to offend and was a tribute to Michael Jackson, who died in June. Deva said, however, the group would not have performed the routine in the U.S., according to The Associated Press.
See our complete coverage of Michael Jackson's death
Hey Hey It's Saturday ran for 27 years, beginning in 1971. This was the second of two reunion shows for the program, and "Jackson Jive" was brought back to reprise the same group's performance from 20 years earlier, when the group won the competition.
Watch the performance and Connick's reaction below.