Even movie blurbmeisters apparently are not safe from broadcast decency standards.
An ad for the Weinstein Co.’s “Hannibal Rising” that aired late in Sunday’s Super Bowl broadcast underwent a last-minute edit to tone down its content, according to two key figures involved in the spot.
CBS topper Leslie Moonves, speaking in Gotham Tuesday morning at Common Sense Media’s “Beyond Primetime” panel on kids-related media issues, said he got a call Saturday evening from Harvey Weinstein.
“We had a conversation about the content,” Moonves told the gathering.
Weinstein, who was also on the panel, continued the story: “It’s an R-rated movie, so the spot was in the fourth quarter, and we had a quote on it from (Maxim film reviewer) Pete Hammond, calling it ‘the most terrifying thriller of the new year.’ Les said he was concerned about the word ‘terrifying’ given how many families were watching the game, and so we called (Hammond) and asked if we could change it to ‘the year’s most electrifying thriller’ and he said, ‘OK,’ and that’s how it ran.”
In a later clarification, TWC pointed out that the word “electrifying” had appeared in another sentence in Hammond’s original blurb, so the company was merely swapping words, not substituting a new one.
The “Hannibal” ad was an 11th-hour entry into the game, becoming one of only four movie ads — none for summer pics — the lowest tally in several years for the typically robust movie category.
When moderator Ken Auletta of the New Yorker asked why the ad’s wording bothered Moonves, the exec shrugged.
“We call these things on the fly,” he said. “The important thing is to maintain a dialogue. I usually don’t take calls from advertisers on Saturday evening. But Harvey is a friend, and for 2½ million dollars, he can call me all he wants.”
Two-day confab, held at Time Warner Center, drew a range of heavyweights from the media and kids programming realms. Panel discussions included such top execs as Time Warner’s Dick Parsons, Comcast’s Brian Roberts, Warner Music’s Edgar Bronfman, Oxygen’s Geraldine Laybourne, Nickelodeon/MTV Networks’ Cyma Zarghami and Sesame Workshop CEO Gary Knell.