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Only five-second delay for Oscars

The Grammys instituted a five-minute delay after the Jackson incident
/ Source: The Associated Press

The producer and director of the upcoming Oscar telecast said the ABC’s 5-second delay will be used to shield viewers from any unlikely profanity or nudity — but will not interfere with any political statements winners may make.

The safeguard measure for the Academy Awards is the latest fallout from the uproar over Janet Jackson’s breast-baring Super Bowl performance, which has provoked an investigation by the Federal Communications Commission.

“At the nominees luncheon yesterday, I spoke with the nominees and just said that, when they come up, they’re all under this microscope, unfortunately, because of these events a couple weeks ago,” Oscar telecast producer Joe Roth told reporters Tuesday.

Asked if the delay could be used to block political statements — like documentary filmmaker Michael Moore’s scathing criticism last year of President Bush, which drew both cheers and boos from the theater audience — Roth responded: “No, it applies to the use of profanity.”

The producer, who’s head of Revolution Studios, said he wants to encourage a sense of freedom and spontaneity — as long as winners are interesting and generally wholesome, he won’t seek to interrupt their speeches.

Maintaining a vigilant watchABC always maintains a watch over its live events, said Oscar telecast director Louis J. Horvitz, who has worked on the show eight times previously.

“ABC standards-and-practices has always gone out on the red carpet and looked at the gowns the women are wearing and I’m sure if a guy’s coming in with a jock strap they might say something, like ‘When you photograph him on his entrance would you do a waist(-up) shot,” Horvitz joked.

But it’s happened before.

In 1974, David Niven’s Oscar introduction of Elizabeth Taylor was suddenly interrupted as a naked trespasser flashing a peace sign raced past him onstage. Niven famously quipped to the audience: “Just think, the only laugh that man will probably ever get is for stripping and showing off his shortcomings.”

More innocently, sometimes an actress shows up in a dress that becomes see-through in the bright stage lights — which is what happened to an embarrassed Meryl Streep at the recent Golden Globe Awards.

Horvitz said he can deal with that through tighter close-ups or adjusted lighting without cutting or blocking the image.

The Academy Awards are set for broadcast from Hollywood’s Kodak Theatre on Feb. 29. Billy Crystal has signed on as host.