Veteran Australian entertainer Bert Newton has caused a stir at the Logies with jokes that have been slammed for being homophobic and outdated.
The 79-year-old took to the stage on Sunday night to present the Graham Kennedy Award for Most Popular New Talent, named for Newton’s late former TV colleague with whom Newton spent many years working on television.
“As I look out on the audience I’ve got to be honest, there are many faces I know from the screen, but don’t know them personally,” Newton said.
“You might feel the same way, you know ‘Where’s this old poof come from?’”
Logies viewers were divided on social media.
“Don’t use the word poof, ever. It’s not funny & as a gay man who grew up in regional Queensland – had it directed to me as a teenager, full of poison. It hurts to hear,” one person tweeted.
Another tweeted, “It was an IN JOKE between GRAHAM (who called HIMSELF that) and Bert. Those who are old enough to have watched Bert and how who Kennedy is, know this.”
Later in the speech, Newton made a comment about Kennedy’s support for new talent.
“Speaking of young talent, Graham Kennedy was always the sort of man who nurtured young talent. He enjoyed giving young people a chance on television. He was a great mentor – he mentored a lot of young people, Newton joked.
“You knew if you went to his dressing room and it was locked, he’d be inside doing some mentoring… They were wonderful years, and years I wouldn’t swap with anyone.”
The comments were slammed as insensitive in the era of the #metoo movement, but Newton defended the comments about Kennedy.
“It was totally innocent so far as I’m concerned,” he told News Corp.
“In fairness these days, everything is jumped on. I am not that sort of person. I didn’t mean anything untoward.”
Don't use the word poof, ever. It's not funny & as a gay man who grew up in regional Queensland – had it directed to me as a teenager, full of poison. It hurts to hear. #TVWeekLogies
— Brent Davidson (@Brentus88) July 1, 2018
It was an IN JOKE between GRAHAM (who called HIMSELF that) and Bert. Those who are old enough to have watched Bert and how who Kennedy is, know this.
— Salem (@Salem4444) July 1, 2018
— Andrew Mercado (@andrewmercado) July 1, 2018
— Patrick Abboud (@PatrickAbboud) July 1, 2018
— Scott Gumbleton (@scottgumbleton) July 1, 2018