LOS ANGELES — When Motley Crue’s Vince Neil wished bandmate Tommy Lee a happy New Year live on NBC, he couldn’t resist inserting a profanity — and now the FCC is involved.
The Federal Communications Commission has received complaints about the New Year’s Eve “Tonight” show and is beginning a preliminary probe, a spokeswoman said Tuesday. But it’s likely little will come of it.
Motley Crue was performing shortly after midnight when Neil turned to Lee and said, “Happy ----ing New Year, Tommy!”
It was an off-the-cuff remark and not done intentionally to test broadcast rules, said a spokeswoman for the band who asked not to be identified. Neither Motley Crue nor NBC had any other comment Tuesday.
Jay Leno normally tapes the “Tonight” show, but did a live version for the East Coast on New Year’s Eve. Neil’s remark was excised when the show was seen in other time slots.
U2 lead singer Bono used the same expletive at last year’s Golden Globe Awards, which were also broadcast live by NBC. The network has said it will put this year’s broadcast on a 10-second delay (MSNBC is a Microsoft-NBC joint venture).
The FCC, in a March ruling issued after receiving hundreds of complaints about Bono, said the word should not be used on over-the-air radio or television programs when it’s likely children will be listening. But the Bono ruling did not apply to the hours between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m., generally considered a “safe harbor” for rougher language. The commission said in its ruling that it would take complaints about language in those hours on a case by case basis.
Networks have been more cautious about material they air after singer Janet Jackson’s Super Bowl performance last year.
Jackson was near the end of a Feb. 1 halftime duet with Justin Timberlake when Timberlake snatched off part of her bustier on stage, revealing one of her breasts, which was covered with only a sun-shaped “nipple shield.” Those involved blamed the exposure on a “wardrobe malfunction.”
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