New Orleans band leader Harry Connick Jr. was taken aback during a recent appearance on a celebrity judges panel for an Australian version of The Gong Show when a Jackson Five tribute group called the Jackson Jive — five white men in blackface — took the stage. The group’s performance was cut short by the gong (struck by a fellow judge), and Connick had a sour look on his face when he delivered his score: “Man, you know, if you take the Jackson five and subtract this five,” he said, holding up a card bearing a zero.
After a commercial break, the host apologized to Connick, who has worked with dozens of black musicians during his career and whose latest humanitarian project — the musician’s village in New Orleans for Katrina victims — has aided dozens more. “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,” Connick confessed. “If I knew that was going to be a part of this show I definitely wouldn’t have done it.”