No Plans for Delay as Janet Hosts 'SNL'

Reuters - 3/4/04

She may not be ready for prime time just yet, but Janet Jackson has been booked on NBC's "Saturday Night Live" next month, her first planned network TV performance since baring her breast at the Super Bowl.

NBC said on Thursday that the 37-year-old pop diva will host and perform on the April 10 edition of the show, which is broadcast live on the East Coast from New York City. Jackson previously appeared on "SNL" as a musical guest in 1994.

Jackson's last U.S. television appearance was her notorious Super Bowl halftime performance on Feb. 1, which ended with duet partner Justin Timberlake ripping open her costume to expose her right breast during CBS's live coast-to-coast telecast.

A public uproar over the flash of nudity sparked inquiries by lawmakers on Capitol Hill and the Federal Communications Commission, as well as an industry-wide crackdown by television and radio broadcasters on sexually explicit material.

Jackson, herself, was barred by CBS from the Grammy Awards telecast a week later after she rebuffed the network's demands to issue an on-air apology as a condition for appearing on that show. She subsequently bowed out of plans to star in an ABC TV movie about singing great Lena Horne after Horne objected to being portrayed by Jackson, saying she was offended by the Super Bowl incident.

Jackson's next album, "Damita Jo," is due out later this month.

A spokesman for "Saturday Night Live" said he knew of no plans by the network to carry the April 10 show on a special tape-delay, as CBS did for the Grammys and ABC did for the Oscars as a precaution against unplanned vulgarities in the aftermath of Jackson's halftime show.

"SNL" already has lampooned the incident with a recent promo in which guest host Megan Mullally of "Will & Grace" ripped off the breast pocket from "American Idol" star Clay Aiken. And in a parody of ABC's "Nightline," Ted Koppel (played by Darrell Hammond) stymied several Democratic presidential contenders by wanting to talk about nothing else but Jackson.

"Saturday Night Live" has itself run afoul of network censors for profanity, such as the notorious 1981 utterance of the "f" word by Charles Rocket and a similar incident involving Norm Macdonald.

NBC is a unit of General Electric Co., CBS is owned by Viacom Inc. and ABC is part of the Walt Disney Co. entertainment group.