Rev. Jackson: Michael Richards' participation in radio program is a chance to apologize

Saturday, November 25th 2006, 7:34 pm
By: News On 6

CHICAGO (AP) Michael Richards will appear on the Rev. Jesse Jackson's nationally syndicated radio program to discuss his racist rant at a Los Angeles comedy club, the civil rights leader said Saturday.

Richards' participation in the ``Keep Hope Alive'' program is a chance to reach out and apologize to the black community, Jackson said.

``He is embarrassed,'' said Jackson, who spoke to Richards by telephone this week after being contacted by the actor's publicist. ``I think he wants to recover from the pain he now feels and the pain he's caused others.''

While he called Richards' words ``hateful,'' ``sick,'' and ``deep-seated,'' Jackson said his inclusion in the radio show airing Sunday would be a chance for a broader discussion about black actors, writers and directors' ``cultural isolation'' in the entertainment industry.

``We might turn this minus into a plus,'' Jackson said.

Richards, who played Jerry Seinfeld's wacky neighbor Kramer on the TV sitcom ``Seinfeld,'' was performing at West Hollywood's Laugh Factory last week when he lashed out at hecklers with a string of racial obscenities and profane language. A cell phone videocamera captured the outburst, and the incident later appeared on

Richards appeared via satellite on the ``Late Show with David Letterman'' on Monday, where he said the tirade was fueled by anger at being heckled, not bigotry. He also apologized to the Rev. Al Sharpton.

Jackson said Richards apologized to him, but his ``public meltdown'' showed he needs psychiatric help.

``I asked him, 'Why do you hate blacks? Have you been robbed or accosted or molested in some way?''' Jackson said. ``He said, 'No, I can't quite explain it.' I said, 'That's why you need to talk it out.'''

Richards' publicist Howard Rubenstein said Saturday his client has begun psychiatric counseling in Los Angeles to learn how to manage his anger and why he made the racist remarks.

``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 has been trying to locate the two men he insulted so he can apologize, Rubenstein said.