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'ER' In Trouble? Topless Scene Planned

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  • '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.

  • #2
    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.

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    • #3
      In a real ER or medical setting, "private" parts are sceen quite often. In this regard, ER has been a little fake. Though, privacy of the patient is always upheld aswell.

      But, ER is a TV show. As real as it might be trying to be, it's not real. Granted the showing of an elderly breast is not a ploy to gain attention (I hope), but rather to portray reality. I still don't see a point to it. What is the purpose of hiring an actor willing to bare her breast in a nonsexual manor and filming it to show on TV? TV is a conservative medium. I feel this type of artistic expression would be best left for a movie perhaps, where rules and regulartions are more lenient and tollerent.

      Fresh Air

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      • #4
        I think this whole thing is just getting stupid. After all a breast is basicly fatty tissue, and both men and woman have nipples. Its ok for a male to show off his nipple but not a female. Here where i live in ontario its legal for woman to go topless. Some of these people that complain. let kids watch war movies where people are getting killed. heads blowen off ect ect. but when a female shows off her breast they freak.

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        • #5
          Yeah I really think people need to complain to these tv stations and tell em to stop worry about every little boob that gets shown. I mean its obvious that the MTV thing was intentional, done for shock value and very sexual but this thing on ER is supposed to be more realistic and is not supposed to be shocking or sexual and besides most little kids dont watch that show anyways and on a school night probably wont be up anyways so I dont get what the big deal is. These people just need to cool down and let these guys go through with their show, im sure the director of the show thought long and hard about doing that scene and wouldnt do it without a good reason and probably also understands all the "potential" risks that go along with it. Besides if people can see violent war movies with heads being blown off then you can see some old woman's breast with almost no trouble. We really need to get rid of this sex attitude in our lives and I hope that MTV really gets a beating for its sexual crap they keep trying to put into our lives just to make a buck for their execs.

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          • #6
            knowing janet jacksons dancing style, i do not doubt that her dancing was sexual (as is most of MTV's dancing). but how does baring a breast become sexual? janet did not get sexual in baring her breast, it is only that she showed her breast, no sexual inuendos?? if anything, she is a little stupid for trying to compete with the young tramps (i mean singers) like brittany. janet should know better and work on other assets she has instead of doing stupid things like getting someone half her age to expose her breast to a family audience.

            as for baring a breast on ER, that only flows naturally with the hectic pace of the emergency room. bodies are bodies not sexual entities. what is sick is that people are so in an uproar over an exposed breast but have no problem with the many gory and violent things that happen on ER. that is one of many shows i do not watch because i can't stand the violence and blood and guts. i don't need that crap in my life (that and the nightly news sensationalism of negative things that occur in life).

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            • #7
              David,

              Janet's bare breast is sexual because she made it sexual.

              First MTV hypes it, then she dances a sexual dance to the lyrics, "I'm gonna undress you by the end of this song", and then on cue, her partner tears off her blouse in some grand finale.

              I've seen bare breasts aplenty and it ain't no big deal 99 percent of the time because there was no bump and grind and no hype leading up to it.

              Janet decided to sexualize her breast.

              And I agree with you that it was a stupid stunt. To please her ego? I don't see how this will make the general public suddenly decide that nudism is a good thing. (I'm sure you don't either).

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              • #8
                I can't comment specifically on ER, because I've never watched it, but I think it's usually appropriate to have realism in shows claiming to depict everyday activities in real-life situations.
                Just recently, in a David Attenborough environmental documentary, it showed a baby being born. The scene was absolutely real, and in context. It was so beautiful, I felt quite emotional for the mother and her partner. But I'm sure some people would have been shocked and horrified, but, in such a case, I would have to say, that's their problem.
                I realise that hospital patients have to be treated with respect and consideration, but I suggest that some of the things done to protect a person's modesty are an insult to the intelligence of a normal person.
                I was in once for a test which involved me being naked, and one of the female doctors remarked, "An all-over tan, how civilised".
                I would imagine she was just pleased I wasn't making life difficult for the medical staff.

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                • #9
                  My wife conducts English lessons with a couple of Japanese ladies. Yesterday, one of them asked why the uproar over Janet's breast. They show live sex on TV in Japan.

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                  • #10
                    Don't worry. For all of the hype about Janet, NBC is going to play it safe. If they don't blur it or pixellate it, I will be very surprised.
                    The arguments of "medical," "drama," "non-sexual," "elderly," "late night," "what is the harm," etc all being irrelevant. We still have a long way to go for this country to not think of the whole thing as a major issue.
                    After all, it took me longer to type this sentence than the amount of exposure for Janet's breast.

                    Joe

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                    • #11
                      Good Point Florida Dave,

                      Someone once said, American telivision will show you a man shooting a woman's breast, but never baring a woman's breast.


                      This controversey is INSANE...

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                      • #12
                        Am I right in thinking that in at least some states of the US, it's legal to breastfeed in public?
                        Then how about a serious documentary on breastfeeding, actually showing how it's done?
                        If it's legal out in the street, then how can it be offensive on TV?

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                        • #13
                          ***UPDATE***
                          The medical drama "ER" had planned to broadcast a scene in tonight's show that included a glimpse of an elderly patient's breast. But thanks to Janet Jackson, NBC has ordered the "ER" breast shot to be cut. Actually, it's thanks to quite a few NBC affiliates who threatened to pull the entire show--which has serious financial implications during the all-important sweeps month.

                          All of this has executive producer John Wells hopping mad. He told The Associated Press that "affiliate overreactions" have a "chilling effect" on dramatic integrity. In a statement he issued on the matter, Wells said: "While the unexpected exposure of Ms. Jackson's breast during the Super Bowl Halftime Show was inappropriate and deplorable on a broadcast intended for viewers of all ages, 'ER's' incidental exposure of an elderly woman's breast in the context of a medical trauma is not comparable." And then he went on to slam NBC. "This type of network behavior is one of the primary reasons that so many of today's producers and viewers are increasingly turning to HBO and other cable outlets that do not censor responsible storytelling," he said.

                          In its defense, NBC did agree that the scene--an 80-year-old woman is receiving emergency treatment--is "appropriate and in context." It also would have aired after 10:30 p.m. and not when lots of children are watching as was the case when Justin Timberlake ripped off Janet's bodice exposing her breast for about a second to 89 million viewers.

                          On a side note...my wife and I went to the WIC office to update our case since I lost my job, and I saw a sign on the wall that said it okay to breastfeed in that building since it was a breat-friendly site! A breast-friendly site? While I applaud their willingness to allow women to breastfeed openly there, I think their terminology is a bit bizarre, besides, I thought Texas allowed for public breastfeeding...doesn't it?

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                          • #14
                            I heard the same thing TXK...That ER has put the kabosh on the breast scene...I swear we American's can be so strange when it comes to morality issues sometimes, doncha' think?

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                            • #15
                              Way too much hype over nothing !!! One breast !
                              Wow, in Europe this would be a joke !!!

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