FCC Chairman Michael Powell said Monday that the commission will investigate Sunday's Super Bowl incident in which Janet Jackson's breast was bared during a televised half-time production number. His announcement -- in which he called the incident "a classless, crass and deplorable stunt," came after Jackson admitted that it was not unplanned as officials connected with the production had originally asserted. She said that a decision to have a "costume reveal" was made after final rehearsals of the show. Those who participated in the decision and those who were apprised of it were not named, although, she said, "MTV [the halftime show's producer] was completely unaware of it." (On Sunday, singer Justin Timberlake, who performed the bodice-ripping, blamed the matter on a "wardrobe malfunction.") The New York Times observed today that the MTV website had been promising something "shocking" during Jackson's performance. CBS chief Les Moonves indicated that he was upset by much of the halftime production in general. "We were extremely disgusted by the behavior of some of the performers," he said in a statement, presumably referring to Kid Rock's suggestive lyrics and Nelly's crotch-grabbing. The Jackson incident touched off wide-ranging reaction. "It's a sad day when parents can't even let their children watch the Super Bowl without having to worry about nudity creeping into their living rooms," said Tony Perkins, head of the religious advocacy group Family Research Council. On the other hand, Democratic presidential hopeful Howard Dean told Reuters "Considering what's on television these days, I think the FCC is being pretty silly about investigating this." New York Post columnists Richard Huff and Bill Hutchinson referred to "the growing tempest in a C cup" and "nipplegate."
RAUNCHY ADS DRAW LITTLE FLAK
Surprisingly, the controversial content of some of the Super Bowl ads were receiving comparatively little attention Monday, despite not-so-oblique references to genitalia in the Anheuser Busch spots and a warning during a commercial for the impotence drug Cialis that "a four-hour erection requires immediate attention." Writing about the spots in Ad Week, ad critic Barbara Lippert judged the Charmin commercial, "with its stale 'end zone' puns and weird homoerotic subtext about fondling the toilet paper hanging at the guy's waist" as the worst of the lot.
IDOL, FIANCE LIFT FOX TO BIG MONDAY-NIGHT WIN
With the one-two punch of American Idol and My Big Fat Obnoxious Fiance, Fox again dominated the Monday night ratings. Idol scored a 15.0 rating and a 21 share, while Fiance recorded an 11.2/15. Both shows were first among adults 18-49. The success of the two shows put Fox, with an average 13.1/18 rating for the night, well ahead of its rivals. CBS was second with an 11.5/16, followed by NBC's 8.0/11 and ABC's 5.7/8.
JUDGE WON'T ALLOW BLAKE TRIAL TO BE TELEVISED
As a result of a court ruling on Monday, viewers will be unable to see Robert Blake deliver the most challenging performance of his career -- testifying at his murder trial. Superior Court Judge Darlene Schempp ruled that cameras will not be permitted in court, except during the defense and prosecution's opening and closing arguments and the reading of the verdict. She said she based her ruling on concern that witnesses will be watching the testimony of those preceding them and could be swayed by what they heard. ""You can't expect that witnesses won't watch and witnesses on the stand for two or three days might go home and watch their own testimony and decide to change it," the judge ruled.
BBC IN ROW OVER SATIRICAL SHOW
The BBC was back in a public battle Monday after deciding to cancel a satirical radio show that lampooned the report by Lord Hutton concluding that a BBC reporter had made "unfounded" claims about the Tony Blair government's decision to enter the war against Iraq. The decision to cancel the show outraged its writer, Mark Tavener, who said in a statement: "I was told it had been pulled because you can't call Tony Blair a liar in the current climate. ... This is nonsense. I'm making a much wider point about the culture of spin. This is a fictional comedy - and a very balanced one. It's equally rude, if not ruder, about the BBC. They are chickening out because they are worried about upsetting the government." A short time later, the BBC reversed itself and announced that the show would go on at its regular time.
BOX OFFICE IS BOWLED OVER
Competition from the Super Bowl took its toll at the box office over the weekend as only one film earned more than $10 million, the newly released You Got Served from Sony's Screen Gems, which took in $16.1 million. (It was actually the biggest gross that any new film has enjoyed on a Super Bowl weekend.) Another newcomer, Paramount's The Perfect Score, earned just $4.9 million to place fifth, while a third freshman offering, The Big Bounce got the bounce from moviegoers as it wound up with $3.3 million, to place thirteenth. Hardest hit of all was Warner Brothers' biker film Torque, aimed at young males -- the core Super Bowl crowd -- which dropped 67 percent in its third week to just $1.5 million. (The movie has grossed only $19.7 million during its current run. Overall, the box office was down 4 percent from Super Bowl weekend a year ago. The top ten films over the weekend, according to final figures compiled by Exhibitor Relations (figures in parentheses represent total gross to date):
1. You Got Served, Screen Gems, $16,123,105, (New); 2. The Butterfly Effect, New Line, $9,556,280, 2 Wks. ($31,735,064); 3. Along Came Polly, Universal, $9,310,060, 3 Wks. ($66,002,555); 4. The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, New Line, $5,310,803, 7 Wks. ($345,331,815); 5. The Perfect Score, Paramount, $4,873,819, (New); 6. Big Fish, Sony, $4,533,655, 8 Wks. ($55,316,067); 7. Mystic River, Warner Bros., $4,378,417, 17 Wks. ($64,858,601); 8. Cheaper By the Dozen, 20th Century Fox, $4,285,230, 6 Wks. ($128,034,055); 9. Win a Date With Tad Hamilton, DreamWorks, $4,211,395, 2 Wks. ($13,107,536); 10. Cold Mountain, Miramax, $4,074,047, 6 Wks. ($78,375,713).
ACADEMY MEMBER WHO LOANED OUT SCREENERS MAY BE OUSTED
The board of governors of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is expected to expel Carmine Caridi, a member for over 22 years, when it meets in Hollywood tonight. Caridi has admitted turning over copies of his Oscar screeners to a friend, Russell Sprague, who allegedly posted them onto the Internet. Until now, the academy has expelled members only for selling their tickets for Oscar shows.
MOVIE ACADEMY TO BUILD $200-MILLION MUSEUM
The motion picture academy is planning to back a "world-class," $200-million motion-picture museum in Los Angeles, the Los Angeles Times reported today (Tuesday). In an interview with the newspaper, the academy's president, Frank Pierson, said: "We're not going to think small," adding that the attraction is expected to incorporate a film education center. "The time has come to make the decision to go ahead and do it before somebody else does it badly. And do it the way the academy should do it, truly representing the film community," said Pierson.
DISNEY AND GOLD SAY THEY'LL STEP UP THEIR ANTI-EISNER CAMPAIGN
Roy Disney and Stanley Gold, the two former members of the Disney board who are attempting to oust Michael Eisner as CEO, said Monday that they are taking their case to representatives of institutional investors, asking them to withhold their votes from Eisner at an upcoming board meeting. Although Eisner and other directors who support him are running unopposed, the decision of a significant number of board members to abstain in the voting could be regarded as a vote of no confidence and trigger a subsequent board election.
REPORT: DREAMWORKS TO SELL OFF ANIMATION UNIT
DreamWorks is considering a possible spin-off of its animation unit, either as an outright sale or an initial public offering, the New York Post reported today (Tuesday), citing sources familiar with the matter. The unit is the particular province of DreamWorks principal Jeffrey Katzenberg, who is widely credited with reviving Disney's animation department in the 1980s and who at DreamWorks has successfully mounted a challenge to Disney's animated fare with such films as Antz and Shrek. (He has also witnessed his share of box-office bombs, including last year's Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas, which cost $60 million to make, but took in only $26 million at the domestic box office.)Meanwhile, the Post reported separately that Michael De Luca, head of production at DreamWorks, is expected to announce that he is quitting because of "creative differences."
INDIA MOUNTS ITS OWN "SLAMDANCE"
Bringing to mind the break-away Slamdance Film Festival that parallels the Sundance Film Festival each year, a film festival is being organized in India that will offer a slate of controversial films that have been rejected by the Mumbai Film Festival, which starts today (Tuesday). Organizers of Vilkalp: Films for Freedom said Monday that the films to be screened include several that were rejected by the government-organized Mumbai festival because of their political content. In a statement the organizers said, "The blatant attempt to stifle critical voices has made it extremely difficult for film-makers to continue to identify with the [Mumbai] festival."