Published December 01, 2006
LOS ANGELES – Michael Richards will apologize face-to-face to the audience member he responded to with racially charged remarks, a representative for the actor best known for playing Kramer on "Seinfeld" said Friday.
"Michael Richards would like to apologize in person to the gentleman with whom he had the exchange in the club," says the joint statement from PR agent Howard Rubenstein and lawyer Gloria Allred, who is representing the African American audience member Richards yelled at and three other black men who were with him that night.
"Michael has agreed that they will all meet in the presence of a retired judge who will facilitate the meeting and help the parties resolve this matter. All concerned are hopeful that a face-to-face meeting will be constructive and begin the necessary process of healing and closure," the statement says.
The judge will determine whether Richards should take any other action to resolve the matter, Rubenstein and Allred said Friday.
A cash settlement could be part of the resolution, said Rubenstein.
"My client Michael hopes to put it behind him," Rubenstein said.
Allred said Richards should meet with her clients "to hear the pain that he inflicted on them and to apologize to them."
She and the four men held a press conference Friday morning.
Richards was doing a stand-up act at West Hollywood's Laugh Factory two weeks ago when he lashed out at a group of African Americans with a string of racial obscenities and profane language.
A cell phone video camera captured the outburst, and the incident later appeared on TMZ.com.
Richards repeatedly used the n-word during his anti-black tirade, which reportedly began when his detractors shouted that he wasn't funny.
In an apparent reference to the racially-motivated lynchings of the past, Richards retorted: "Shut up! Fifty years ago we'd have you upside down with a f------ fork up your a--!"
He then paced across the stage, taunting the men with racial slurs.
"You can talk, you can talk, you're brave now mother------. Throw his a-- out. He's a n-----!" Richards shouted, before uttering the racial epithet over and over again.
Richards has since apologized on the Rev. Jesse Jackson's nationally syndicated radio program "Keep Hope Alive" and on the "Late Show with David Letterman." He also apologized to civil rights leader Rev. Al Sharpton.
"For me to be at a comedy club and flip out and say this crap, I'm deeply, deeply sorry," the former "Seinfeld" co-star said during a satellite interview with Letterman. "I'm not a racist. That's what's so insane about this."
He said his rant was fueled not by bigotry but by anger at being insulted, and he went into a "rage" when the audience members interrupted his act. He has begun therapy in Los Angeles to learn how to manage his anger, he and publicist Rubenstein said.
"He acknowledged that his statements were harmful and opened a terrible racial wound in our nation," Rubenstein said. "He pledges never ever to say anything like that again. He's quite remorseful."
Richards' satellite appearance on the "Late Show" was on the same night that Jerry Seinfeld was a guest. Seinfeld, who issued a statement saying he was "sick over this horrible, horrible mistake," explained that he had encouraged Richards to come on the program with him and apologize.
"He's someone that I love, and I know how shattered he is about" the incident, Seinfeld said.
On Jackson's radio show, Richards echoed Seinfeld's characterization of how he felt about his outburst. He told Jackson that he had not used those racial slurs before.
"That's why I'm shattered by it. The way this came through me was like a freight train," Richards said. "After it was over, when I went to look for them, they had gone. And I've tried to meet them, to talk to them, to get some healing.
"I was in a place of humiliation," he added.
Jackson, who has called Richards' words "hateful," "sick," and "deep-seated," said the comedian's inclusion on the show was a chance for a broader discussion about "cultural isolation" in the entertainment industry.
Richards noted that the racial epithet he used is frequent in the entertainment industry, and acknowledged that it could have consequences.
"I fear that young whites will think it's cool to go around and use that word because they see very cool people in the show business using that word so freely," he said. "Perhaps that's what came through in that ... the vernacular is so accessible."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.