General News

The Shot Seen 'Round the Word: Janet Jackson Super Bowl Fallout Continues

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Feb 06, 2004 | 9:20am EST

Janet Jackson's breast-baring NFL halftime show is creating more fallout than anyone might have imagined.

It's been a busy week for Janet Jackson--and the entertainment industry in general. Here's a recap* of the global uproar her supposedly accidental breast-baring incident during her Super Bowl halftime duet with Justin Timberlake has caused, starting with the events of last Sunday--and the week's not over yet!

Sunday: In flagrante delicto

Right after ex 'N Sync-er Timberlake sang the last line of his hit, Rock Your Body ("I'm gonna have you naked by the end of this song"), he reaches over and rips off the right cup of co-performer Jackson's gladiator-ish leather bustier, after which her breast, covered only with a medieval looking nipple medallion, was revealed to some 89 million-plus people watching the game. Pity the poor suckers who paid to watch the relatively chaste Playmates-and-models-in-their-underwear Lingerie Bowl halftime game on pay-per-view.

Monday: Apologies ensue

MTV claims the bodice rip and breast reveal was a mistake, pure and simple. "The tearing of Janet Jackson's costume was unrehearsed, unplanned, completely unintentional and was inconsistent with assurances we had about the content of the performance," according to a statement released by the cable network.

"CBS deeply regrets the incident," spokeswoman LeslieAnne Wade said after the network received calls about the Sunday night (peep?) show.

We were extremely disappointed by elements of the MTV-produced halftime show," Joe Browne, NFL executive vice president, said. "They were totally inconsistent with assurances our office was given about the content of the show. It's unlikely that MTV will produce another Super Bowl halftime."

Timberlake blames the big reveal on a "wardrobe malfunction." "I am sorry that anyone was offended by the wardrobe malfunction during the halftime performance of the Super Bowl," Timberlake said in a statement. "It was not intentional and is regrettable." Quickly distances himself from any and all responsibility.

Jackson publicly apologizes for the incident and takes the rap for CBS and MTV. "The decision to have a costume reveal at the end of my half-time show performance was made after final rehearsals. MTV was completely unaware of it. It was not my intention that it go as far as it did. I apologize to anyone offended - including the audience, MTV, CBS and the NFL."

Jackson's spokesman, Stephen Huvane, was quoted by CNN as saying the incident "was a malfunction of the wardrobe. It was not intentional. ... He was supposed to pull away the bustier and leave the red-lace bra."

FCC chief Michael Powell calls it "a classless, crass and deplorable stunt," announces plans to investigate.

Tuesday: The repercussions begin

"There's now going to be an FCC investigation into the nipple," MTV Chief Executive Tom Freston confirms after it was revealed the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) would look into whether the incident broke FCC rules regarding indecency or obscenity. If CBS is found to have aired material that falls outside of FCC guidelines, the network could end up paying up to $27,500 or into the millions if each CBS station is fined for the infraction.

Federal Communications FCC head Michael Powell said in a statement, "Like millions of Americans, my family and I gathered around the television for a celebration. Instead, that celebration was tainted by a classless, crass and deplorable stunt."

TiVo, on the other hand, finds that ever-present silver lining as the incident becomes the single most replayed moment in the company's six-year history.

Wednesday: More Nipplegate

Jackson's breast exposure receives the somewhat dubious honor of being the most-searched term in Internet history, according to search engines Lycos and Yahoo. Jackson bested searches for the ever-so-popular Paris Hilton sex tape some 60 times over on Lycos. More impressively, searches for Jackson's breast on Yahoo accounted for a full 20 percent of all searches on the site, beating out even the Super Bowl with its paltry 2.7 percent.

Despite the building public ire, Jackson and Timberlake are both still scheduled to appear at the upcoming Sunday night Grammy Awards.

Despite their still being scheduled, CBS and the Grammy organization are taking no chances, announcing plans to enhance the capabilities of the "5-second delay button" to make the delay time longer and include video, if needed.

A worker on the set claims rehearsals for the show were much tamer than what aired. David Spear, a consultant for the company hired by MTV to produce pyrotechnics during halftime, said Jackson rehearsed in jeans and a sweater, and Timberlake pantomimed

*Sources: Associated Press, Reuters, CNN, Yahoo

removing the jacket she was to wear.

A "shocked" and "appalled" Timberlake continues to distance himself from Nipplegate. "It was, 'Oh my God, oh my God'. I was completely embarrassed. I don't feel like I need publicity like that and I wouldn't want to be involved in a stunt, especially not a stunt of this magnitude," he said to Los Angeles' CBS 2 News.

Parents forced Laguna Beach, Calif., school officials to kill a deal that would have allowed MTV to film Laguna Beach High School students on campus for a "reality" television show.

Thursday: The You-Know-What Hits the Fan

The Grammy Awards retracts the invitation to Jackson to attend this year's ceremony--or she bows out, depending on who you talk to. Jackson was slated to introduce recipient Luther Vandross, who wished to attend the ceremony but had to pull out due to heath concerns stemming from the stroke he suffered late last year. Justin Timberlake will, however, still attend. Jackson's camp had no comment.

Former Timberlake bandmate J.C. Chasez gets booted from the NFL's Pro Bowl halftime show this Sunday in Hawaii, is replaced with hula dancers, drummers, conch shell blowers and local singers. Said Brian McCarthy, a spokesman for the Pro Bowl: "We saw what happened on Sunday, and Monday we took a look at what the performance would have been in terms of the music and dancing. We just felt it was inappropriate as we're being extremely cautious in light of what happened at the Super Bowl."

For his part, Chasez had this to say in a statement: "While I agree the mishap at the Super Bowl was a huge mistake, the NFL's shallow effort to portray my music as sexually indecent brings to mind another era when innocent artists were smeared with a broad brush by insecure but powerful people." (We think JT owes JC dinner for being replaced by a conch, at the very least.)

NBC decides to err on the side of caution (hey, why not?) and will edit out a two-second shot of an 80-year-old woman's breast that was to be seen in an emergency scene on Thursday night's ER. The show's executive producer John Wells says the decision sends a bad message.

Friday: The inevitable lawsuit

And lastly, a Knoxville, Tennessee, bank worker named Terri Carlin is suing MTV, CBS, and parent company Viacom for damages claiming to have suffered "injury" due to the Super Bowl halftime broadcast. The proposed class-action lawsuit reads, "As a direct and proximate result of the broadcast of the acts, (Carlin) and millions of others saw the acts and were caused to suffer outrage, anger, embarrassment and serious injury." Carlin is suing for billions in compensatory and punitive damages.

Will Janet beat brother Michael at the bad-publicity game? More, no doubt, to come!

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