E! apologises to Michael J. Fox
The 71st annual Golden Globe awards had not even started when the first, and biggest, gaffe of the night took place.
During red carpet coverage of the event carried on the cable TV channel E!'s live web stream, an on-screen graphic offered this as a "fun fact": [actor] Michael J. Fox was diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease in 1991.
It was not broadcast on television.
The graphic triggered a storm on social media and an avalanche of counter-tweets offering equally serious observations accompanied by the hashtag #goldenglobefunfacts.
A screen shot of the graphic also quickly turned into an internet meme, with the offending words replaced with other serious observations. One said: "Fun Fact: There is no afterlife, just eternal nothingness."
In the aftermath, E! offered a loud and clear mea culpa.
"We regret the insensitive classification of Michael J Fox's Parkinson's diagnosis during our E! online live stream," the network said in a statement issued today.
"We understand the serious nature of the disease and sincerely apologise."
Fox, 52, was at the Golden Globes with his wife, actress Tracy Pollen.
The graphic was inserted into the live web stream of E!'s coverage as Fox and Pollen walked up the red carpet at Los Angeles' Beverly Hilton, where the Golden Globes were held.
The incident was not connected to the event itself, or the main broadcast, which was carried on the US network NBC.
The E! channel produces its own coverage of the red carpet, which is packaged for television and a live web stream in the US.
The awards were a ratings winner for the US network NBC, drawing their biggest audience in a decade.
The national audience totalled 20.9 million, a lift of about six per cent on 2013's telecast.
Fox was a nominee in the best actor in a television comedy category for his work on the new series The Michael J. Fox Show.
It screens in the US on the NBC network and in Australia it airs on the pay TV Universal Channel.
Fox is best known for the Back To The Future films and the iconic 1980s sitcom Family Ties, in which he played entrepreneurial teenager Alex Keaton.
Sydney Morning Herald