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Paris Hilton accepts Sarah Silverman's apology after 2007 MTV Awards jokes resurface

Back in 2007, Silverman poked fun at Hilton just as she was about to undergo a stint in jail.
TODAY Illustration / Getty Images
/ Source: TODAY

The Sarah Silverman-Paris Hilton feud is over: Hilton has accepted Silverman's apology for remarks made at the 2007 MTV Movie Awards.

"She was so genuine and so sweet, and it really moved me," Hilton said in a special 10-minute "This Is Paris" podcast devoted to the apology. "I felt emotional hearing it, and I could tell that she really did mean what she said when she was apologizing. Thank you. I really appreciate you doing that. I know it's difficult for anyone to apologize, and for someone to do that really means a lot."

She also posted some of her remarks on Instagram:

"I respond to Sarah Silverman’s apology after opening up about my emotional experience at the 2007 MTV Movie Awards," she wrote in the caption.

Fourteen years ago, Silverman made Hilton, then largely known for being a reality star and hotel heiress, the butt of her monologue for the awards. Hilton was about to head to jail for a short stint regarding an alcohol-related driving offense, and was in the audience when Silverman made her jokes.

"Paris Hilton is going to jail," Silverman said at the time, and the audience proceeded to roar in delight. Silverman continued with some crude comments about how Hilton might be made comfortable behind bars.

Four years later, Silverman was promoting her book "The Bedwetter: Stories of Courage, Redemption, and Pee," and told an audience that what made the joke so awful was the way the audience responded and the camera focused on Hilton. But, she added, "I wasn't going to abandon ship" in the middle of the joke.

Fast-forward to the first week of March 2021. Hilton revisited the humiliation on her podcast, discussing the incident with her sister, Nicky. "What Sarah Silverman did was so disgusting and so cruel and mean," she said. "I was so shocked and surprised because I'd actually met her a few years before when I was at an event and she couldn't be nicer. So sweet. I knew I was about to check myself into jail in a couple hours (so I was) trying to be brave.

"To sit in the audience with her just literally publicly humiliating me, being so mean, so cruel (about my prison time), I was sitting there wanting to die," she continued. "I was trying to hold back my tears so hard. I had tears welling in my eyes, I wanted to run out of the entire room, but I just was trying to be strong and sit there, and the whole audience is laughing and she would not stop. It was so painful."

Silverman responded two days later on "The Sarah Silverman Podcast," and said she had written to Hilton shortly after the broadcast to apologize — but, "I never heard back. I certainly wouldn't expect to anyway, but on her podcast the other day, she said she never heard from me which just bums me out, because I guess it never got to her. I don't know how that happened. I'm just real sorry my note didn't get to her because I really meant it."

Sarah Silverman
Sarah Silverman, hosting the 2007 MTV Movie Awards in Los Angeles, California.Kevin Mazur / WireImage

Silverman added, "So here I am 14 years later, telling you, Paris, that I am really sorry. I was then and I am much more completely, and with more understanding, I think, now. I can't imagine what you were going through at that time."

She noted that her "understanding of humanity through the lens of my work as a comedian had not yet merged" at that time.

"Comedy is not evergreen," said Silverman. "We can't change the past so what's crucial is that we change with the times... Paris, I hope that you accept my apology and I hope that you feel my remorse. I felt it the second I saw your face that night. It feels terrible to know that you have hurt someone and it's important to make it right so I hope this does that."

In her apology acceptance, Hilton said she was "shocked" and "pleasantly surprised" that Silverman had stepped forward; she also noted she'd never received the letter. "We've all said things in our past that, you know, we felt bad about, we later regretted," said Hilton. "And, just, I don't know, I think everyone is guilty of doing that.

"Apologies are never late, so it's OK," Hilton continued. "But, yeah, I do wish that whoever you gave it to (would have given) it to me, because that would've just, I don't know, meant a lot back then, especially back then when I was going through so much."

Hilton's clearly going through many of her old interviews and finding that they have not aged well, particularly the way she was attacked. She posted one interview on Instagram Wednesday, with an extended caption that read in part, "I will never forget the feeling I felt in that room. It’s something I had to go through on too many occasions. It makes me so angry and sad to watch."

Britney Spears
Britney Spears, performing at the 2007 MTV Video Music Awards in Las Vegas, Nevada.Kevin Winter / Getty Images

Last month, Silverman apologized for taking potshots at Britney Spears that same year, at the MTV VMA Awards. Following Spears' performance, Silverman quipped, "She is amazing. I mean, she is 25 years old and she's already accomplished everything she's going to accomplish in her life."

She also called Spears' children "adorable mistakes."

Called out on Twitter for that routine, Silverman wrote, "I was known then 4 roasts. MTV asked me to mini-roast Britney after her big performance.... Art changes over yrs as we know more & the world changes. I wish I could delete it but I can't."

Apologies are always welcome, but these particular instances of burying the hatchet seem to reflect the new level of public discourse since the New York Times documentary "Framing Britney Spears" premiered. Casting a fresh light on how celebrity women were treated in the 1990s and early 2000s, the documentary has caused a new generation of fans — and those both behind the jokes and the subject of them — to revisit the turmoil caused.

Silverman noted that she's pleased with the re-examination.

"It’s how we grow. It's how we change," she said. "I'm super down with reflecting on the past and my part in perpetuating real ugly s---."