An Australian TV channel has apologized for airing a skit in which a group of singers dressed in blackface to parody the [artist id="9867"]Jackson 5[/artist], according to The Australian newspaper.
[artist id="501078"]Harry Connick Jr.[/artist] was serving as a guest judge during Wednesday's airing of "Hey Hey It's Saturday" and reacted strongly to the act, which showcased four men in wigs and black face-paint singing and dancing alongside a Michael Jackson impersonator caked in white makeup. The group's name was the Jackson Jive.
A spokesman for Channel 9, which carries the program, said in a brief statement, "It was never intended to offend and we regret any offense [the act] caused."
According to The Associated Press, at the end of the show, host Daryl Somers apologized to Connick. "I know that to your countrymen, that's an insult to have a blackface routine like that on the show, so I do apologize to you," he said.
The American singer responded, "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."
"I had no idea I was going to be a part of it," Connick later told the Fairfax Radio Network, according to The Australian. "I have absolutely no hard feelings and I'm not even upset, but I felt I had a responsibility to respond."
Anand Deva, a member of the Jackson Jive group, said the act was not intended to be offensive, though he said they would not have performed the segment in America. "Clearly, all of us want to apologize," Deva told Fairfax. "I mean, we have offended some people, no doubt, particularly Harry Connick Jr."
This is not the first time the Jackson Jive have appeared on "Hey Hey It's Saturday." The group performed 20 years ago on the long-running show, which was canceled in 1999. The show on which Connick appeared was the second of two reunion shows.