'ER' In Trouble? Topless Scene Planned
Just days after the MTV-produced AOL TopSpeed Super Bowl Halftime Show in which Janet Jackson bared her right breast and incurred the wrath of the Federal Communications Commission, the NBC drama "ER" is raising alarms. Television Week reports that "ER" is scheduled to air an episode on Thursday night--the first night of the all-important February sweeps--in which the breast of an elderly patient will be bared. And that is causing serious concern among a number of NBC affiliates, who may choose not to broadcast the show.
One unnamed station group executive told Television Week, "You're not going to find the stations very willing to take the heat. I think people are going to be backing off big-time." Some affiliates, who expressed concern about the scene long before the Super Bowl halftime brouhaha, were told several weeks ago that "ER" executive producer John Wells is unwilling to cut the scene. Now even more affiliates, feeling the post-Super Bowl sensitivity to such matters, are anxious about airing the show. Television Week reports that NBC and John Wells was unavailable for comment.
One note: The FCC rules for shows that air after 10 p.m., such as "ER," are less strict than for shows airing from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m., such as the Super Bowl. When the FCC levels a fine for obscenity, it is charged not only to the network, but also each station airing the show. The maximum obscenity fine is $27,500.
Janet Jackson's stunt has resulted in a new record: TiVo users are replaying it again and again and again.