CBS apologized tonight for a Super Bowl halftime show seen by an estimated 140 million Americans that included singer Justin Timberlake tearing off singer Janet Jackson's top, exposing her breast.
Janet Jackson on cover of Jane Magazine
"CBS deeply regrets the incident," spokeswoman Leslie Anne Wade told the Associated Press.
The two singers were performing "Rock Your Body," a risque duet to end a halftime show that pushed the limits of family entertainment and broadcast standards.
The show included:
- Janet Jackson grabbing her breasts;
- One performer repeatedly fondling his crotch;
- striptease cheerleaders;
- gyrating transvestites;
- simulated lesbian sex;
- Jackson and Timberlake groping each other.
As the finale song finished, Timberlake reached across Jackson's leather gladiator outfit and pulled off the covering to her right breast. The final lyric of the song goes, "Going to have you naked by the end of this song."
The network quickly cut away from the shot and did not mention the incident on the air. But despite CBS' apology, there are indications the incident was not spontaneous.
Wade said CBS officials attended rehearsals of the halftime show all week, "and there was no indication any such thing would happen. The moment did not conform to CBS' broadcast standards and we would like to apologize to anyone who was offended."
The Super Bowl halftime show, which also featured Nelly and Kid Rock, was produced by MTV, CBS' corporate cousin in Viacom.
"We were extremely disappointed by elements of the MTV-produced halftime show," said Joe Browne, NFL executive vice-president. "They were totally inconsistent with assurances our office was given about the content of the show.
According to the Drudge Report, top CBS executives approved the Jackson prank.
"The decision to go forward went to the very top of the network," Drudge quoted a well-placed source explained from New York.
But, in a press release before the game, MTV promised "Janet Jackson's Shocking Moments." [Editor's note: Sometime after the halftime show, MTV removed the release from its site.]
Jackson's exposed breast was covered only by a metal nipple decoration.
The halftime show was sponsored by Pepsi.
The halftime show wasn't the only part of the event considered tasteless by some. Some of the commercials were also criticized by viewers.
"Then, just when you thought the commercials couldn't get any more tasteless, we're 'treated' to a talking chimp, blatantly asking his owner 'babe' if she would like to go upstairs to have sex with him!" complained viewer Jim Mitchell from Vancouver. "This, all on family prime-time TV? I for one think this has gone too far!"
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