November 16, 2004

ABC apologizes for racy MNF open

ABC has formally apologized for a slightly raunchy open to Monday Night Football featuring Philadelphia's Terrell Owens and actress Nicolette Sheridan of ABC's prime-time sudser Desperate Housewives.

The open featured Sheridan, clad only in a towel, trying to entice Owens. Once Sheridan dropped her towel, Owens opted out of the game, saying the team would have to win without him.

In the taped segment, Sheridan drops a towel and is shown from a rear angle unclothed down to the lower part of her back. After Owens says, "Aw, hell, the team's going to have to win without me," Sheridan jumps into his arms.

"We have heard from many of our viewers about last night's MNF opening segment, and we agree that the placement was inappropriate," ABC vice president Mark Mandel said in a statement. "We apologize."

In a strongly-worded statement, NFL public relations vice president Greg Aiello said, "ABC's opening was inappropriate and unsuitable for our Monday Night Football audience. While ABC may have gained attention for one of its other shows, the NFL and its fans lost."

A spokeswoman for the FCC who declined to be identified, said, "I can confirm we did receive complaints" about the ABC MNF opening. She said the complaints will be reviewed.

If an "apparent violation" of the rules is determined, the FCC would issue a "letter of inquiry" to ABC asking for more information about the incident. If a violation is ultimately determined, penalties that could include fines could ensue.

I missed the open myself; then again, everyone seems to be on pins and needles lately when it comes to "decency" or at least percieved decency on television.

But with the kind of ratings Desperate Housewives has been getting, ABC isn't going to yank it off the air any time soon.

Posted by mhking at November 16, 2004 11:52 PM

As a Cowboys fan, I can only say I wish Owens would have stayed in the locker room with Sheridan...

Posted by: Zygote at November 17, 2004 03:29 AM

It wasn't the illusion of nudity ain't that set folks off. Worse is regularly seen on TV. Rather, it was illusion of interracial sex. The piece featured a white woman removing her towel in front of a black man, who then says that the team will have to win without him. It's racism posing as upholding decency.

Posted by: molotov at November 17, 2004 12:21 PM

It was less than a year ago that CBS got in trouble for a flash that went by so fast that it did'nt register to many people. Now ABC thinks they can get by with a deliberate, scripted and rehearsed scene that was nothing but sleaze. ABC, the NFL, Terrell Owens and Nicolette Sheridan should all be fined heavily by the FCC. The executives of both of those organizations should have known better and people need to pay for their arrogant and smug attitude.

Posted by: Stephen Matthews at November 18, 2004 03:09 PM

You Puritans!! I'm sorry a women showing her back an enticing a male figure deserves fines.

Posted by: Smarter than you at November 18, 2004 06:48 PM

Here's the "problem," the skit showed a white woman being sexually aggessive towards a black man. That's what set people off. Had the actress been black it wouldn't made the front pages. BTW, the skit was suggestive but you didn't see anything. Nicollette was actually more covered up than the average woman on the beach.

Posted by: kimberley at November 19, 2004 11:09 AM

I think The Daily Show hit the nail on the head by pointing out that this whole flap is ridiculous when you realize how much sexual imagery is in the beer ads all throughout the broadcast.

I mean, seriously, was the opening any worse than the ad with the two girls fighting over Bud Lite in their lingerie?

No, I didn't think so.

Posted by: Jack Frost at November 19, 2004 07:43 PM

The problem is promoting casual sex to an audience that includes children and some adults that choose not to watch such . . . programming. If some adult wants to turn on a show to watch things like this, it is OK with me. Still, we should not be subjected to it when we plan to watch a ball game.

Posted by: Cogar at November 22, 2004 01:33 PM
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