Janet Jackson only needs to flash her breast to get America outraged, at least John Lydon has to shout “fucking cunts” to secure a few complaints. Despite issuing an apology for Lydon’s comments on a live segment of ‘I’m A Celeb’, ITV insiders say that the 98 complaints they have received from an estimated audience of 12 million shows how things have changed – even though the show is on quite late you would have expected more outrage in the past. Certainly the fall out was nothing compared to what followed that other famous Lydon live TV outburst when – having been challenged by BBC presenter Bill Grundy to “say something outrageous” on tea time telly – Lydon called the presenter a “fucking rotter” – a TV moment that caused questions to be asked in the Commons, a tabloid frenzy and, of course, the Daily Mirror’s famous ‘The Filth and the Fury’ headline.
Despite all that ITV confirmed they were adding a slight time delay to the live segments of the jungle show: “We’ve no wish to offend viewers or mar their enjoyment. We’re therefore building a very short time delay into transmission to enable us to bleep unacceptable language.”
Though as one caller to Radio 5 Live pointed out – you have to assume ITV expected some Lydon swearing: “My nine-year-old daughter begged me to stay up and watch it, but I didn’t let her because I expected bad language. I mean for goodness sake, why else have they got Johnny Rotten on?”
From CMU, which also brings us more news on Nipplegate.
More, yes that’s right, more on the whole Justin / Janet Superbowl routine (what some in the US media are now calling Nipplegate). Firstly some words from MTV boss Tom Freston whose company produced the Superbowl halftime show. Speaking at a conference in New York yesterday he made reference to one of his station’s own hidden camera shows by commenting: “We were punk’d by Janet Jackson.”
He continued: “When you’re doing live television there’s a great reliance and trust you have to put in the performers. And our trust was violated by the performer. Janet Jackson isn’t the type of person you would think would be doing that. So yes, we were surprised, but such is the nature of what live TV can be.” Freston added that he welcomed the Federal Communications Commission’s decision to investigate the matter, though presumably won’t be so pleased to hear that sister company CBS could be fined $27,500 for every station that showed the breast-exposing routine – which could leave the network with a bill for millions, on top of moves by AOL to get a refund on its sponsorship of the event.
Meanwhile the whole thing is having an effect on other live televised music events. CBS have confirmed they will use a video delay when screening this weekend’s Grammys giving TV execs the power to pull the feed should anything too controversial take place. The network’s technicians are currently putting the system in place, apparently hoping to find something more “viewer-friendly” than a black screen for the broadcast to cut to should any censorship be needed.
Meanwhile CBS bosses have still not ruled out banning both Janet Jackson and Justin Timberlake from appearing on the Grammys show. As reported yesterday, the former is due to present an award at the event, while Timberlake is on the bill to perform at the show. Word is that if an internal CBS investigation blames the artists for what happened on the weekend execs at the network will force Grammy producers to regig their bill.
With perhaps that thought in mind Justin Timberlake, who seemed a tad ambivalent about the routine earlier in the week despite his initial apology, was sounding more serious yesterday. He told reporters: “The fact of the matter is, I’ve had a good year, a really good year, especially with my music, even me personally. I don’t feel like I need publicity like this. And I wouldn’t want to be involved with a stunt, especially of this magnitude. I immediately looked at her, they brought a towel up onstage, I immediately covered her up. I was completely embarrassed and just walked off the stage as quick as I could.”
Whether or not Timberlake himself is affected by the fallout from the Superbowl – his former band mate JC Chasez has been hit. Justin’s fellow Nysnc member was scheduled to perform at Sunday’s NFL Pro Bowl – but organisers have axed him from the halftime festivities. League spokesperson Brian McCarthy said yesterday: “In light of what happened Sunday, we took a hard look at what he was going to perform and decided to move in another direction. This is a reflection of what was communicated by the league on Monday. We said we are making changes and this is the first one.”
Chasez was diplomatic about the whole thing: “No one could be more disappointed than I that the NFL has canceled my halftime performance at the Pro Bowl. I’ve told the NFL I understand the pressure that they are under since the Super Bowl.”