U.S. TV presenter Wendy Williams has issued an apology after sparking widespread backlash by mocking actor Joaquin Phoenix's "cleft lip".
The 55-year-old star spoke about the Oscar-nominated actor on a recent episode of her The Wendy Williams Show, telling the audience, "When he shaves off his moustache he's got a hairline fracture. He's got one of those - what do you call it? Cleft lip, cleft palate," while mocking the condition by hooking her finger to her lip.
Among those to slam Wendy for the insensitive remark was Canadian professional football player Adam Bighill, who was born with a cleft lip and palate and whose son Beau was also born with the condition.
Bighill has been demanding a public apology from Wendy since she made the comment, and the presenter addressed the sportsman and his family in her apology.
"We're thinking about Beau today as he is in surgery. I want to apologise to the cleft community and in Beau's honour, our show is donating to @operationsmile and @AmerCleftPalate and encourage our Wendy Watchers to learn more and help support the cleft community," she tweeted.
In response, Bighill tweeted: "Thank you @WendyWilliams for your apology, your donation, and for thinking of Beau today for his surgery. I forgive you, and I encourage others to as well. I wish you all the best."
Singer Cher also blasted Wendy for her comment, sharing a screenshot of the moment she hooked her finger to her lip on her Twitter page and writing: "BEFORE THEIR TEENS??MUCH OF THE TIME THEY ARE IN PAIN,AFRAID,BUT HAVE HOPE .THEY WILL LOOK NORMAL. THE (heartbreak) & FEAR THEIR PARENTS GO THROUGH IS UNBEARABLE. IF YOUR MOM SAW WHAT YOU DID SHE'D BE ASHAMED. MY MOM TAUGHT ME TO LOVE & HELP PPL IN PAIN.WHO ARE U??U SHOULD B FIRED (sic)."
Phoenix was born with a scar between his lip and nose, which is actually a microform cleft, the mildest form of cleft lip.