Posted on October 7, 2009

Harry Connick Jr. Clashes with Blackface Jackson Family on Aussie TV

S.T. VanAirsdale, Movieline, October 7, 2009

Apparently enough time had elapsed since Michael Jackson’s death that a cheeky comic tribute to him and the Jackson 5 seemed in good taste. At least it seemed that way a troupe of Aussie TV performers, who rounded out last night’s performance as the “Jackson Jive” in full-on blackface. The crowd ate it up, but an American judge who knew better ground the show to a halt until somebody apologized.

It wasn’t supposed to be like this for Harry Connick Jr. or the iconic Aussie variety series Hey Hey It’s Saturday, for whom the midweek show represented a much-anticipated reunion special. {snip} Not cool, said Connick: “If they turned up looking like that in the United States, it’d be like Hey Hey There’s No More Show,” the crooner spat, giving the group a score of zero in the episode’s mock-talent competition. (The Aussie judge beside him was much more forgiving, allowing for a smile and a 7.)

The host brought Connick–who’d appeared on the show before–back out after the break for an official mea culpa: “I know that to your countrymen, that’s an insult to have a blackface routine like that on the show, so I do apologize.” Connick thanked him, adding, “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.” {snip}