Justin Timberlake has issued a public apology distancing himself from any involvement in a "silly, unsavoury" video which features homeless people congratulating the singer and his new wife Jessica Biel on their recent Italian nuptials.
The controversial footage was shot by the pop superstar's real estate agent pal Justin Huchel as a funny wedding gift for the newlyweds.
It opens with a title card which reads, "Greetings from your Hollywood friends who just couldn't make it," and then features vagrants and down-and-outs wishing the couple well, with one toothless man saying, "Justin and Jessica, I haven't seen you for a long time. I hope the wedding goes fine for you. My gift is in the mail."
The clip, which was reportedly played at Timberlake and Biel's wedding reception in Italy last week (19Oct12), soon emerged on Gawker.com, sparking a backlash from fans and advocates for the homeless, and prompting Huchel's lawyers to fire off a cease and desist letter to website bosses, claiming the video had been stolen and demanding it be taken down.
Now Timberlake has moved to clear up the controversy by penning an open letter to "clear the air" about what has become "a very upsetting portrayal of the people closest to me and myself".
In the online note, the SexyBack hitmaker insists he had "no knowledge of its existence" and had "absolutely ZERO contribution" to what he refers to as "clearly a lapse in judgement" by "good people", and states that contrary to reports, the video was not shown at his wedding.
Defending Huchel and his wife, he writes, "I don't believe it was made to be insensitive. More so, I think it was made as a joke on me not having that many friends attending my own wedding (which IS kind of funny if you think about it)."
But he agrees an apology is required: "I think we can all agree that it was distasteful, even though that was not it's intention. Once again, in the world that we live in where everyone thinks that they know everything, I want to be very clear... I am NOT defending the video. I agree with the overall consensus...
"I want to say that, on behalf of my friends, family, and associative knuckleheads, I am deeply sorry to anyone who was offended by the video. Again, it was something that I was not made aware of. But, I do understand the reaction and, by association, I am holding myself accountable."
And Timberlake assures fans he's not about to let Huchel off the hook for the failed prank, adding, "P.S. You can bet your a** that I'm having my friend do at least 100 hours of community service... Boom."