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Entertainment 2004 - What might have been
Updated: 2004-12-31 10:33

Just think: Instead of exposing Janet Jackson's breast at the Super Bowl last Feb. 1, what if Justin Timberlake reached across her chest, fumbled with Jackson's top and .... The stitching holds! There is no malfunction!

Janet Jackson (L) reacts after fellow singer Justin Timberlake ripped off one of her chest plates at the end of their half time performance at Super Bowl XXXVIII in Houston, February 1, 2004. [AP]
That means no national discussion of showbiz morals, no drastic tightening of FCC restrictions but the fallout is just as serious.

Cameron Diaz, mortified by her boyfriend's failed attempt to reach second base, breaks up with Timberlake before the Super Bowl is even over.

She immediately sends word to New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady that she's available.

The flustered Brady is a wreck in the second half, and the Carolina Panthers cruise to a surprise victory.

A few days later, as the late night jokes skewer Timberlake, Britney Spears (fresh off her annulled marriage to a no-name childhood friend) grows sympathetic toward her big-name former sweetheart, and they elope.

At the impromptu reception, Spears sees Timberlake's ex-backup dancer Kevin Federline outduel him in a dance-off.

Annulment No. 2 follows but Spears is too jaded to tie the knot with Federline. They live in sin instead.

Indirectly affected by "the butterfly effect" (which is NOT a scientific theory regarding the questionable stature of Ashton Kutcher movies), Gwyneth Paltrow's baby girl is named "Arugula."

Without the Super Bowl controversy, Disney sees no risk in distributing Michael Moore's "Fahrenheit 9/11." The box-office hit saves the job of beleaguered Disney chief Michael Eisner.

However, an out-of-date memo stating Eisner will be fired ends up at CBS News, which erroneously reports that the CEO is being ousted.

Though a considerable embarrassment, the experience forces CBS and Dan Rather to tighten up their fact-checking. The President Bush/National Guard story never makes it on air. Rather's job is secure for the next 10 years.

Meanwhile, Mel Gibson decides not to subtitle the Aramaic dialogue in "The Passion of the Christ," and moviegoers stay away. Instead, pundits focus their attention on the arguably anti-Semitic qualities of Al Pacino's "Merchant of Venice."

At one point, Jon Stewart surprises Pacino on Letterman, tells him "I think what you're doing is wrong" and makes an unprintable reference to the male anatomy.

New York Times columnist Frank Rich still wages his Gibson crusade, and the actor still says he wants to kill Rich's dog.

Though Rich has no dog, his neighbor's cocker spaniel mysteriously winds up dead with a very "Braveheart"-esque spear as the murder weapon.

To shore up his image, Gibson signs on to produce his own ABC drama, "Fundamentalist Housewives." But a Monday Night Football lead-in showing Monica Belluci shedding her ankle-length dress and jumping into the arms of Eagles receiver Terrell Owens elicits nationwide condemnation. Red State viewers flee NFL broadcasts in droves.

Seeking to boost ratings, the NFL picks Lindsay Lohan to perform at halftime of the 2005 Super Bowl. The show (featuring her much-debated, um, maturing physique) is wildly over the top. An onlooking Usher can only exclaim, "Yeah!"

Welcome to 2005. Even fake history is doomed to repeat itself.

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