After three days of nonstop phone calls and speculation, Janet Jackson’s publicist finally put the news media out of their misery yesterday, confirming to reporters that the pop singer will not appear at this Sunday’s Grammy Awards ceremony.
The office of her publicist, Stephen Huvane at PMK/HBH — no, honestly, that’s the firm’s name — told The TV Column she was no longer planning to attend the music awards event, but would not elaborate.
Jackson, who was to introduce a tribute to ailing singer Luther Vandross, is out because of the fallout from Sunday’s Super Bowl broadcast on CBS. She and Justin Timberlake decided he would rip off part of her costume during their halftime performance, in the course of which her right breast was revealed to millions of Americans watching at home, including about 1 in every 5 kids between the ages of 2 and 11.
News that Jackson was definitely out immediately triggered more nonstop phone calls and speculation as to whether Timberlake — the one who actually introduced Jackson’s breast to the nation — would also get the boot from the Grammycast, which airs on CBS. And, of course, much discussion as to how CBS could show Jackson the door without showing Timberlake the same door.
Jackson has said that the idea for the “costume reveal” was hers and she pitched it to Timberlake; but last we checked, Timberlake was an adult with the ability to just say no.
A CBS spokesman declined to comment. But our source close to the production said that Timberlake was still expected to show up for Grammy rehearsals at Staples Center in downtown L.A. last night.
Justin, when not hard at work rehearsing his Grammy performance inside Staples Center, was hard at work on the steps of Staples Center making absolutely sure reporters staked out there know that the Super Bowl halftime incident was entirely Jackson’s fault.
On Wednesday, for instance, he told his story to local TV station KCBS, saying that right before the Super Bowl show he got a call from Jackson and her choreographer telling him they wanted him to rip her bra off.
In that interview, Timberlake, who had his sad face on, said that when he ripped Jackson’s bodice during that halftime performance, he was “shocked and appalled” to discover a breast underneath.
“All I could say was, ‘Oh my God. Oh my God.’ “
Timberlake also wanted to make sure that the reporter on the steps at Staples Center knew how very much he’d suffered since Super Bowl Sunday.
“I’m frustrated at the whole situation,” he said, now with his frustrated face on. “I’m frustrated that my character is being questioned and the fact of the matter is, you know, I’ve had a good year, a really good year, especially with my music.”
He is, of course, mistaken. No one is accusing him of having character.
As of yesterday, when we talked to Timberlake’s ‘N Sync band mate and alleged close pal JC Chasez, he had not yet called to offer condolences for the damage Chasez has suffered because of that Super Bowl halftime peep show.
The NFL, you’ll recall, has suddenly gone all modest and blushy and canceled Chasez’s halftime performance at this weekend’s Pro Bowl in Honolulu because it was shocked at the song and the choreography he had in mind.
Chasez, the bigger guy, says it’s okay he hasn’t heard from Timberlake, because, he told The TV Column, he knows that Timberlake is “dealing with his own demons.”
But Chasez is pretty steamed at the NFL. He says the song choice, “Blowin’ Me Up (With Her Love),” was entirely the NFL’s. Originally he was contracted to sing “Some Girls (Dance With Women),” the first single from his new solo album.
But, Chasez says, he understood how jittery the NFL was and agreed to the change. Next thing he knows, the NFL tells him it’s uncomfortable with two words in “Blowin’ Me Up.” He says he agreed to change “naughty” and “horny” for the halftime performance.
“Santa Claus can say ‘naughty’ but I can’t,” Chasez marveled on the phone.
The NFL said Wednesday that Chasez could still sing the national anthem at the game.
No thanks, says Chasez. “They don’t think I have the right kind of image for the NFL but they think I could be the spokesperson for the entire nation by singing the national anthem? I find that hypocritical,” he said.
Asked whether he thought CBS should allow Jackson and Timberlake to perform at the Grammys, Chasez responded, “I think everybody [involved] should be reprimanded, but I don’t know to what extent.
“One of the things I don’t want to see is CBS put a stranglehold on the entire industry by banning videos that were okay on MTV a week ago. . . . To treat people like they’re stupid and censor things from them is wrong.”
Meanwhile, Jackson’s radioactive right breast continues to devour our great country
- Parents in Laguna Beach, Calif., were so enraged at being subjected during Sunday’s Super Bowl halftime show to the kind of programming their kids watch every day on MTV and VH1, they demanded that the school board cancel an agreement to let MTV, which produced the Super Bowl halftime show, shoot a reality series at their high school.
You can imagine how this went over with the half-dozen lucky students who were going to get to star in an MTV reality series.
In an emergency meeting, covered by the Los Angeles Times, the Laguna Beach Unified School District board members voted Wednesday night to forbid the network from basing a reality show on the lives of its high school students. Just last week they had tentatively okayed the deal with no opposition.
This time at the meeting, scores of angry parents and alums packed the board chambers, the Times reported, and dozens more flowed out into the hallways.
“The intellectual aspects of our community are threatened by MTV,” one angry alum told the board.
“Did you watch the Super Bowl?” PTA President Ketta Brown told the Times. “Let’s put it this way: I would prefer that my children not watch that network.”
This is just like that old Kevin Bacon flick “Footloose”
Ren and his classmates want to do away with the [no dancing] ordinance, especially since the senior prom is around the corner, but only Ren has the courage to initiate a battle to abolish the outmoded ban and revitalize the spirit of the repressed townspeople.
The Times reports the MTV deal would have given the school district between $12,000 and $40,000.
I’m sorry, $12,000 to $40,000? For the entire cast of what’s sure to be a hit TV series? Has the district board been drinking water bottled in Washington, D.C.?
- Just when you thought things couldn’t get any worse, a Knoxville, Tenn., woman filed a proposed class action lawsuit Wednesday against Jackson, Timberlake, MTV, CBS and Viacom, which owns both CBS and MTV, contending she and other viewers were injured by their actions during the halftime show, the Knoxville News Sentinel reported.
Terri Carlin filed her lawsuit “on behalf of all Americans who watched the halftime show” in federal court in Knoxville.
She “and millions of others saw the acts and were caused to suffer outrage, anger, embarrassment and serious injury,” the lawsuit states.
It doesn’t specify those serious injuries but we assume Carlin is referring to all the men who went blind.
We tried to reach Knoxville attorney Wayne A. Ritchie II yesterday—the report says he filed the suit — but were not successful.
We also tried to reach Viacom, but every time we dialed the company’s number we started laughing so hard it hurt, which only made more painful those injuries we suffered watching the Super Bowl halftime show. So we gave up.
The lawsuit also noted that the Super Bowl was broadcast internationally and so harmed the “standing and credibility” of America worldwide. What standing and credibility? Hasn’t she been reading the newspapers?
And finally, the News Sentinel notes, Carlin’s lawsuit seeks compensatory and punitive damages worth billions.
NBC’s latest Thursday superstar, Donald Trump, will be back for a second edition of “The Apprentice” next fall, the network said.
In the show, young aspiring business tycoons compete to win a $250,000-a-year job working for the Trumpster.
“The Apprentice” is now a staple of NBC’s Thursday night, once considered the last great night of scripted series programming. Okay, at least the series that air at 8, 9 and 10 p.m.; the 8:30 and 9:30 p.m. shows have pretty much stunk for years.
But it’s hard to argue with the ratings success of Mark Burnett’s latest reality series. If you take out that one time NBC suits took a big stupid pill and scheduled “The Apprentice” opposite Fox’s “American Idol,” where it got hammered, it ranks as the TV season’s sixth-most-watched series and an even better No. 3 among the 18- to 49-year-olds NBC targets.
Eventually, we assume, Trump will run out of $250,000-a-year jobs and the show will go away. Unless he lays off people to make room.
Workshop time for 'Idol'
After two glorious weeks of brilliantly bad auditions performed all across this great nation of ours by delusional members of Gen-whatever-letter-we’re-up-to, followed by this week’s less interesting but still mostly lousy auditions in Pasadena, “American Idol” has, alas, settled in for the tough part of the series — the Workshop.
Scooter Girl is gone, leaving us feeling cheated and foolish for investing so much time in getting to know her all these weeks. Fox, oh Fox, why did you deceive us?
Also gone is lovely George Huff, who had by far the nicest voice, because the three returning judges (Simon, Randy, who has lost 100 pounds and is now 1/2Randy, and Paula, who is somehow meaner this time around and we like that) decided George was “too old” (he was 22 when the auditions were taped in November).
They did give him points when he sang in Pasadena, however, for wearing a knit cap he’d found in the Goodwill clothing collection bin, which they said made him look younger. George goes back to Nowheresville, whence he came, a sadder, wiser, but somehow younger man, so it’s not all bad.
Also gone is Skeevy Model Boy, speaking of getting old. On the bright side, they did keep identical twins Noel and Jesus, who, we were told during the New York auditions, had been separated a while ago because of a “family” situation. Neither seems particularly talented, but one of them said on camera that if his brother got ahead of him in the competition he’d “slit his throat.” Cool.
And out of the ashes of this week’s “American Idol: Road to Hollywood” have emerged two new drinking games. The first involves a shot every time Simon says “Absolutely,” as in “that was absolutely terrible,” “that was absolutely horrible,” “that was absolutely horrific,” “that was absolutely the worst performance I’ve ever seen in this competition.” Now that Randy has outgrown his “dawg” thing, Simon has emerged as the one-note-song judge of this competition.
To play the other drinking game, take a slug every time Paula has a “wardrobe malfunction.” And no, we’re not talking about uncontrollable breast exposures, we’re discussing all those awful hats she’s been showing up to work in, and those tube tops with detached sleeve-ettes—a great look, maybe, if you’re a member of Gen-whatever-letter-we’re-up-to, but not for Paula, who’s starting to look a little scared every time Randy or Simon tells one of the contestants he or she looks too old. And, by the way, is “wardrobe malfunction” your favorite new expression, too?
Fox is thrilled by this week’s numbers for “American Idol,” especially Tuesday’s show, which copped 30 million viewers and 13 percent of the country’s 18- to 49-year-olds. That’s the best showing of any entertainment broadcast on any network this season, except for CBS’s debut of “Survivor: All-Stars,” which enjoyed a gigantic Super Bowl lead-in.
Wednesday’s show was no slouch either, scoring about 29 million viewers. That’s up nearly 50 percent from last year’s comparable episode of “American Idol: Deux.”