Grammys, Pro Bowl Same But Different

At one point Sunday night, viewers could toggle between the Pro Bowl halftime show from Hawaii and the Grammy Awards from the Staples Center in Los Angeles, both of them somewhat different thanks to Janet Jackson’s Super Bowl stunt.

The opening number of the Grammys, a duet with Prince and Beyonce, ended with the sultry short-skirted singer using one hand to hold down what there was of her skirt as it was being blown up by some special effects breezes from below. CBS cut to Justin Timberlake in the audience as if to say everybody knew what everybody else was thinking.

During his acceptance speech for best male pop vocal, newly-minted Grammy winner Timberlake apologized again for his hand, literally, in Jackon’s reveal. He called the stunt "unintentional and completely regrettable."

There seemed to be less regret from other parts of the music community, with aggressively plunging necklines the order of the day, including Christina Aguilera, who showed more skin than Jackson had and told the audience, as she tried to remain strategically covered, that she hoped to avoid a similar incident.

Meanwhile at the Pro Bowl, young girls did the hula and extremely well-clothed singers sang away, part of the NFL’s avowed attempt to change the character of its halftime shows.

One Grammy routine that appeared to be a send-up of the decision to scrap a performance on the Pro Bowl by JC Chasez and replace it with the Hawaiian tribute was a performance by OutKast.

The song was introduced as set in a time when music was gone from the land and featured marching bands and Native American dancers. Not long after the number was over, CBS cut to Network Chief Les Moonves in the audience.

Although the network chose last week to add up to a five-minute delay to the Grammys, it apparently resisted the temptation to fix the kind of gaffes that happen when there are no do-overs. A mike went dead on Celine Dion and the a new mike provided a moment of jarring feedback. All remained part of the show.

Also part of the show was a plea from the recording industry to fight cuts in music education. The plea turned political, with the Recording Industry Association of America suggesting that the country should be "searching for tools of mass education."

RIAA also announced the creation of a new Web site, "what’s the," with information on legal downloading of music. It also debuted a PSA showing an illegal download silencing a live musical performance. RIAA has been trying to crack down on Internet music piracy.

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.