LOS ANGELES Singer Justin Timberlake apologized on Friday for what he called a "distasteful" video that features homeless people in Los Angeles congratulating him and new wife Jessica Biel on their wedding.
The video was made by a friend of Timberlake's and intended as a humorous gift for the couple's lavish wedding in Italy last week. The joke backfired when gossip website Gawker got hold of the video and celebrity news site TMZ.com tracked down one of the homeless men, who said he had been paid $40 for appearing in it.
In an open letter on his website, Timberlake said he had no knowledge of the video and "had absolutely ZERO contribution to it" but agreed that it was "distasteful" and was "made as a joke and not in any way in mockery".
"My friends are good people. This was clearly a lapse in judgment which I'm sure no one who is reading this is exempt from. But, 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)," the "Sexyback" singer said.
"Like many silly rumors that I have been made aware of about the week: It was NOT shown at my wedding...I think we can all agree that it was distasteful, even though that was not its intention."
Timberlake signed off lightheartedly, saying "I'm having my friend do at least 100 hours of community service... Boom."
Gawker was forced to remove the video from their site earlier this week when they were threatened with a lawsuit from attorneys representing Timberlake's friend, Justin Huchel, who said the film was stolen and was made "to be used and exhibited privately at Justin Timberlake's wedding as a private joke without Mr. Timberlake's knowledge".
Timberlake, 31, a former member of 1990s boy band N'Sync who has forged a Hollywood acting career, married "Total Recall" actress Biel, 30, in southern Italy last week with close friends and family in attendance.
People magazine secured the rights to exclusive pictures and details of the three days of festivities, where Biel wore a flowing pink designer wedding dress and Timberlake performed a song he had written for his new wife.
(Reporting By Piya Sinha-Roy, editing by Jill Serjeant and Andrew Hay)