Janet Jackson's nipple shield need not apply.
One year after a flash of Jackson's flesh at the Super Bowl halftime show prompted the TV nation to do a collective spit take, Sunday's media extravaganza, from pregame shows to in-game commercials, has been sanitized for your protection.
Well, except for the football part.
CBS was the broadcast home of the 2004 Super Bowl, and has the record $550,000 fine to show for it. Fox takes its turn in the spotlight with Super Bowl XXXIX from Alltell Stadium in Jacksonville, Florida.
According to Fox Sports executive David Hill "nothing has changed"--from the way the network accepts and rejects Super Bowl spots, to the way the network broadcasts the game (absolutely live, with no delays).
But plenty has changed. Jackson is out and cute Beatle Paul McCartney is in as halftime entertainment. Damn is out and darn is in at Fox Sports Net's Best Damn Sports Show Period, making an appearance on the parent network. Sexed-up ads are out and supposedly toned-down ads are in.
"Because of the nonsense that went on in the Super Bowl down in Houston, Madison Avenue is very aware of the situation," Hill said in a recent telephone press conference, "and they're acting accordingly."
In other words, don't expect Mike Ditka to be in your face about erectile dysfunction.
Here's a look to what you will see--and what you won't see--during TV's most watched event of the year:
PREGAME: Fox's coverage kicks off at 10 a.m. (ET), with a behind-the-scenes look at preparations for the thing that'll air between the commercials. Tom Arnold sneaks past the good-taste police to host the hourlong Best Darn Super Bowl Road Show Period on Fox starting at 1 p.m. (ET). Four hours into its Super Bowl Sunday programming, Fox formally begins the pregame portion of its show at 2 p.m. (ET). NFL-approved pregame performers include country newcomer Gretchen Wilson getting down with the Charlie Daniels Band, Black Eyed Peas bridging the demographic gap with Earth, Wind and Fire, and Kelly Clarkson and John Fogerty doing the tailgate party jam. GAME: The official start time is 6 p.m. (ET), but that's start time, not kickoff time.
First, Alicia Keys and students from a Florida school for the deaf and blind will pay respectful tribute to Ray Charles and the nation with a rendition of "America the Beautiful." Then, members of the U.S. Armed Forces will offer up the National Anthem.
Finally, sometime before midnight, the Philadelphia Eagles and the New England Patriots will take the field. For your viewing pleasure, Fox has installed 12 "turf cams" so you can experience what it would be like to be a bug looking up at the action from, say, the 35-yard line. HALFTIME: A 62-year-old British knight will do absolutely nothing remotely offensive.
"I had a slight inkling that there might be something like that attached to it," Paul McCartney said of being asked to be the first post-Jackson halftime performer at a Thursday press conference, per the Associated Press.
"[But] that's okay," McCartney added. "It's an honor to do it."
McCartney is not revealing his play list in advance. However, the odds of him belting out "Why Don't We Do It in the Road" are not considered strong. HALFTIME ALTERNATIVES: "Guaranteed wardrobe malfunctions" at the Girls Gone Wild Halftime Games, airing on pay-per-view for $14.95. Lacy under garments, not "G-rated geriatric rocker[s]" at Lingerie Bowl 2005, also airing on pay-per-view for $14.95. Fur and wet noses at Animal Planet's three-hour-long Puppy Bowl, sponsoring pet adoptions, airing at 3 p.m., 6 p.m., 9 p.m. and midnight (ET). COMMERCIALS: Newly single Brad Pitt nurses a Heineken in a spot directed by Fight Club ringmaster David Fincher. (In a tease, the beer maker wouldn't confirm Pitt's appearance.) P. Diddy hitches a ride to a party in a Diet Pepsi truck in the 45-second spot called "Diet Pepsi Truck." (Fox got $2.4 million for every 30 seconds of air time sold.) To make it worth its while, the soda-pop company also sprung for cameos by Eva Longoria, Carson Daly and Wilmer Valerrama. M.C. Hammer finally gets to star in a Spike Lee joint--well, a 30-second ad for Lay's potato chips, "Fence," about the lengths kids must go to in order to get their neighbor to give back the ball that landed in his yard. Bud Light pitchman Cedric the Entertainer makes a pitch for designated drivers in a 30-second soft-sell spot by Anheuser-Busch. Mike Ditka gets in your face about Cosentino's Silestone natural quartz surfacing. Other advertisers: Napster, Volvo, Pizza Hut, MasterCard, and because no modern sporting-event would be complete without at least one erectile-dysfunction sponsor, Cialis. WHAT YOU WON'T SEE: Janet Jackson, or her breasts. Yes, she and hers will be in Jacksonville this weekend, but for a charity function on Saturday night, not for the game on Sunday night. A Bud Lite commercial spoofing Janet Jackson and her breasts. The beer company decided viewers didn't really want to revisit that scene. A Lincoln Mercury commercial imagining a priest with lustful thoughts about an SUV. The spot drew heat; the Ford division got out of the kitchen--and the game. Mickey Rooney's bare backside. A 15-second spot for the Airborne cold remedy, featuring the 84-year-old actor's bottom, was rejected by Fox's standards-and-practices division. MTV-produced pregame and halftime shows. After last year's much-criticized entertainment segments (and not just the one with Jackson), the NFL hired professional grown-up Don Mischer, a veteran Emmy and Tony telecast producer. MTV, meanwhile, will spend Super Bowl Sunday hyping its revamped MTV2 network. The game's sweaty MVP shouting, "I'm going to Disney World!" and "I'm going to Disneyland!," to cameras for the purposes of an insta-commercial. Disney, which had been paying players to extol its theme parks since the 1987 Super Bowl, opted out this year.