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Pushing buttons

Variety editorial

Befitting a bloated media event like the Super Bowl, the Janet Jackson halftime episode is already one of the most over-covered stories in showbiz history.

Its most alarming outcome, however, risks getting lost in the clamor. CBS is considering a five-minute delay for future live broadcasts, the first of which would be the upcoming Grammys.

The ramifications of this new live-TV template cannot be good. Does this mean that some network standards-and-practices bureaucrat could hit the delete button on Michael Moore’s Oscar speech? For that matter, would Sacheen Littlefeather ever have made it on the air to accept Marlon Brando’s statuette?

Television began as a live medium. There was no such thing as tape-delay. It should not be allowed to descend into corporate-controlled blandness over five seconds of frivolous behavior.

Award-show mavens have fretted for years about ratings erosion. A complete lack of spontanaeity certainly wouldn’t help.

The real boob isn’t Janet’s. It will be the guy with his finger on the button.

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