Janet Jackson to perform on ABC show
Janet Jackson is set to perform live -- well, with a time delay -- on ABC's "Good Morning America" later this month in what would be her first televised concert since baring her breast at the Super Bowl.
The announcement on Friday, a week after Jackson was booked on NBC's "Saturday Night Live," comes even as ABC said it is sticking with plans to develop a prime-time interview special hosted by another combatant in the current broadcast culture wars, radio "shock jock" Howard Stern.
ABC, owned by Walt Disney Co., said Jackson will perform several songs at a free, outdoor concert to be telecast from Manhattan's Battery Park on "Good Morning America" March 31, one day after her new album, "Damita Jo," is released.
She also will be interviewed by "GMA" hosts Diane Sawyer and Charles Gibson for a segment that is bound to give the nation's No. 2 morning program a boost in its bid to close the ratings gap with the top-ranked "Today" show on NBC.
One source said "GMA" producers had been planning to have Jackson on the show since November, months before she shook up the broadcast industry by exposing her right breast at the end of her notorious Super Bowl halftime duet with Justin Timberlake (news), carried live on CBS on Feb. 1.
In light of that controversy, ABC will present the concert portion of Jackson's appearance on a five-second delay, a rare step for a network news show, a network spokesman said.
The tape-delay has become de rigueur for many high-profile entertainment broadcasts in the aftermath of Jackson's flash of nudity, which sparked a Federal Communications Commission probe, congressional action to stiffen fines for broadcast indecency and an industry-wide crackdown on sexually explicit material on TV and radio.
Jackson herself was effectively barred by Viacom Inc.-owned CBS from the Grammy Awards telecast a week after the Super Bowl. She subsequently bowed out of plans to star in an ABC TV movie about singing great Lena Horne (news) after Horne objected to being portrayed by Jackson.
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Still, the broadcast networks have not shied completely away from the radioactive hype surrounding Jackson.
Last week, NBC, a unit of General Electric Co., announced that it had booked Jackson as host and musical guest for the April 10 broadcast of "Saturday Night Live."
An ABC spokeswoman said it is going ahead with plans, first revealed in January, to develop an hourlong prime-time interview special moderated by Stern, who reportedly has been singled out by federal regulators planning to impose heavy fines on broadcasters in a number of indecency cases.
Stern's New York-based show was dumped last month from six radio stations owned by Clear Channel Communications Inc., which said the ribald radio host had violated the media giant's new "zero tolerance" policy toward indecency.
Stern has fought back, saying Clear Channel buckled under pressure from the FCC and that he is the victim of a conservative backlash inspired by Jackson's breast-baring stunt. On Friday's show, Stern said that this past Monday he had invited FCC Chairman Michael Powell to be a guest on his upcoming ABC show, but Powell declined.
An ABC spokeswoman said she did not know if any other guests have been lined up for Stern to interview, and no air date for the program has been set.