UPDATE: Oct. 26 -- Justin Timberlake apologized for the video Friday, made by a friend, in which homeless Los Angeles denizens appear wishing Timberlake and his bride, Jessica Biel, congratulations on their wedding. In a letter posted on his website, he also refuted the rumor that the video had been shown at the wedding itself.
Advocates for the homeless and fans of Justin Timberlake and Jessica Biel are disturbed by a video that was screened at their recent wedding because it appears to mock the homeless.
The film, created by Los Angeles real estate agent (and Timberlake's friend) Justin Huchel, used homeless people from LA to make fun of the newlyweds' lavish ceremony. While Timberlake and Biel's extravagance was probably Huchel's original target, the video transforms LA's homeless into sad, living punchlines. One toothless man says, "Justin, Jessica. I haven't seen you all in a long time, my gift is in the mail."
In another part of the video, a voice off camera suggests that a man go shirtless to deliver his congratulations: "Justin? Jessica? It's me, Robert."
Gawker broke the video Wednesday morning, publishing part of the eight-minute film along with a sternly-worded email from Huchel's lawyer, who threatened a lawsuit if any portion of the film was published. Given Gawker's penchant for publishing privileged communication, however, the letter only serves to provide more context for the sick gag.
"Mr. Huchel made a video to be used and exhibited privately at Justin Timberlake's wedding as a private joke without Mr. Timberlake's knowledge," attorney Michael J. Saltz writes. "Mr. Huchel especially has not authorized you or Gawker Media to use or exploit any portion of his copyrighted video."
Saltz's letter claims Timberlake had no way of knowing about the video's contents before it was screened, and some on Twitter made the distinction between actions of the happy couple and their friends.
Aol reporter Naughty But Nice Rob tweeted:
DISGUSTING - It seems Justin Timberlake friends video taped homeless people wishing the couple "congrats" and aired it at the wedding.
— Naughty But Nice Rob (@NaughtyNiceRob) October 24, 2012
While VH1 sarcastically pointed out:
But to some, the video does reflect badly on the company the couple keeps. "Good to know the ultra-rich of Hollywood don't mind making fun of the homeless," remarked Twitter user Duste Allen. A former Timberlake fan tweeted:
The video also provided a stark contrast to People magazine's teaser photo of their upcoming Timberlake-Biel wedding cover, released today.
"It was magical. It was an unforgettable evening," said Timberlake to People about his wedding, estimated to cost about $6.5 million. Don't expect to read about this video in the article.
UPDATE Oct. 25: TMZ tracked down "Eddie," one of the men who appeared in the wedding video. Eddie confirmed to TMZ that he was paid $40 to recite a few lines for the camera, but he had no idea that the video was intended for Justin Timberlake and Jessica Biel's wedding.
"That makes me feel really bad," said Eddie to TMZ. "I feel they played on me."