After backlash, Neil Patrick Harris says gory Amy Winehouse gag was ‘regrettable’

A man in a white dress shirt and black blazer looking stoic
Neil Patrick Harris attends a screening of “The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent” in New York in April.
(Evan Agostini / Invision / Associated Press)

Neil Patrick Harris regrets turning the death of singer Amy Winehouse into a gory gag at a 2011 Halloween party. More than a decade later, the actor is now facing a firestorm that reignited last week when the image returned to the internet’s consciousness.

“A photo recently resurfaced from a Halloween-themed party my husband and I hosted 11 years ago,” the five-time Emmy winner said Monday in a statement to Entertainment Weekly. “It was regrettable then, and it remains regrettable now. Amy Winehouse was a once-in-a-generation talent, and I’m sorry for any hurt this image caused.”

The “How I Met Your Mother” star and his husband, David Burtka, were skewered online then and now for dishing up a Winehouse-fashioned platter titled “The Corpse of Amy Winehouse” at the party, describing the grotesque buffet offering as “beef ribs, pulled pork, chicken sausage in a spicy BBQ sauce.”


“Modern Family” star Jesse Tyler Ferguson and now-husband Justin Mikita were guests at the event and Mikita tweeted (then deleted) a photo of the gory meat platter at the time — mere months after the “Back to Black” and “Rehab” singer died at 27 of alcohol poisoning.

There’s lots of blame to throw around when it comes to the early demise of Amy Winehouse.

June 18, 2015

But the off-putting image and the bad press surrounding it eventually got lost in the annals of the internet. However, Harris was called out for being insensitive about the death when the photo resurfaced last week and shocked people anew.

“I cannot believe how many very online people over the age of 25 are just now finding out about Neil Patrick Harris’s disgusting Amy Winehouse cake …” tweeted writer Ashley Reese, stoking the online discourse while misidentifying the platter as a dessert.

After hosting the Tonys four times and the Emmys twice, this year’s Oscar emcee, Neil Patrick Harris, talks about the genius of Billy Crystal and his R-rated selfie idea as he weaves through Manhattan in the back of a taxi.

Feb. 12, 2015

Others also shared their disdain for the move, which led to a pile-on in the comments of Harris’ most recent tweet, on Reddit and in news outlets, with many noting how Harris was also dismissive of “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” star Rachel Bloom when she worked the 2018 Tony Awards.

A representative for Harris did not immediately respond Tuesday to The Times’ request for comment.

Here’s a look at how others felt about Harris’ misstep: