Viewers are used to watching “Saturday Night Live” aired live. Live, as in: as it happens, not five or seven seconds later, once the censors say it’s safe for broadcast.
But is Janet Jackson safe to serve as this weekend's host for “Saturday Night Live” — live?
Live television, of course, has been on a death watch since Jackson (with Justin Timberlake’s help) flashed her way into notoriety during the Super Bowl halftime show.
With viewers up in arms, the Federal Communications Commission on the war path and the networks on high alert that someone else might misbehave, tape delays have become the norm.
The Oscarcast and the Grammy show both had them in February. (Turns out, everybody behaved.)
Even “On-Air with Ryan Seacrest,” which usually airs live, played it safe last week when Jackson was a guest. There to promote her new album, “Damita Jo,” she was seen and heard on a seven-second tape delay, just in case.
Now comes the big test. NBC insists it isn’t changing its long-held policy of airing “SNL” live, at least for the East Coast. (The last time “SNL” aired on tape delay was 14 years ago, when foul-mouthed comic Andrew Dice Clay was host, according to “SNL” spokesman Marc Liepis.)
The network is publicizing Jackson’s appearance (11:30 p.m. EDT) accordingly. “Anything could happen,” cracks one promo, “as long as it meets FCC guidelines.”