TV Column: Beyonce to perform at Super Bowl halftime


Beyonce performs in Glastonbury, England in 2011. (Matt Cardy/GETTY IMAGES)
October 16, 2012

For the first time since Janet Jackson’s infamous 2004 breast baring, a female solo artist under the age of AARP eligibility will headline the Super Bowl halftime show.

Next year’s halftime performance will be by Beyonce. Coincidentally, it will be broadcast by CBS — the same network that aired the halftime show in which, as Jackson sang, bumped and ground her way through “Rock Your Body,” Justin Timberlake ripped the bodice off her costume, debuting her right breast to a national audience of about 90 million men, women and children — including the head of the Federal Communications Commission.

In the aftermath, the Eye Network noted that it did not actually produce the halftime show and pointed its finger to MTV Productions. The FCC was not amused, slapping $550,000 worth of fines on CBS TV stations.

“Beyonce will perform @pepsi #SB47 Halftime Show in New Orleans. Feb. 3 2013 on @cbs,” the NFL tweeted Tuesday afternoon — hours and hours after the Associated Press broke the news.

Ever since that fateful 2004 Justin/Janet broadcast, the NFL has taken over the halftime-show production, hiring show runners experienced in live TV — and in broadcast-TV standards — to exec-produce the extravaganza.


Beyonce on stage at a New Orleans show in 2011. (Kevin Winter/GETTY IMAGES)

Post-Janet, the NFL also seemed to take a Female Soloist Abstinence Vow.

After 2004, Super Bowl audiences were entertained at halftime by a succession of Viagra Generation rocker guys, including Paul McCartney, the Rolling Stones, Bruce Springsteen, the Who, Tom Petty, etc.

Things got a little tense in 2007, when halftime performer Prince projected his silhouette, and that of his guitar, onto some large, flowing, sheetlike thinggummy, casting what some saw as a phallic symbol.

The NFL reacted the only way it could — by doubling down on its ban on female halftime solo performers.

(Sure, Fergie performed in 2011, but only as a Black Eyed Pea.)

Until Madonna.

The naming of Madonna to perform at this February’s halftime show was so historic that a news conference was held so middle-aged guys who cover sports could ask her point-blank: “How can you guarantee against a wardrobe malfunction, given your history?” — as though they suspected she had something up her bustier.

Madge calmly assured them that “great attention” had been paid to her wardrobe, saying: “There will be no wardrobe malfunctions. Promise.”

And there was no wardrobe malfunction. There was, however, a middle-finger flip and an obscenity uttering — in fairness, not by Madonna, but by one of her entourage of performers.

After being pulled in by a phalanx of musclemen, poor Madge got totally upstaged by one of the accessories she’d brought along to young-up the act: the Brit rapper M.I.A.

As Madonna happily plugged her new single, “Give Me All Your Luvin,’ ” M.I.A. went rogue with her finger, adding an indistinguishable expletive, as about 111 million watched on NBC.

The network tried to block M.I.A.’s gesture — all the performers onstage vanished from the screen for a nanosecond — but it came too late.

NBC apologized that same night for “the inappropriate gesture that aired during halftime,” explaining that “it was a spontaneous gesture that our delay system caught late.”

And those tough guys at the NFL — which, to recap, produces the halftime show — reacted quickly, issuing a statement in which the league . . . blamed NBC.

Are you paying attention, CBS?

In a statement, NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy blamed NBC’s delay system for letting the middle finger slip through. “The obscene gesture in the performance was completely inappropriate, very disappointing, and we apologize to our fans,” McCarthy told the Associated Press that night.

On Tuesday afternoon, CBS was not commenting on the day’s halftime announcement, noting that the NFL produces the Super Bowl halftime show — the poor saps.

On the bright side, the man behind next February’s halftime show will not be the man behind this past February’s halftime show. That past guy was Jamie King — live-concert director to the stars, Madonna’s creative director and “a superstar in his own right,” as CBS News reported gleefully the day after M.I.A.’s finger caused such a kerfuffle.

Next year’s exec producer: Ricky Kirshner. In addition to working with Don Mischer on many of the Viagra Years Halftime Shows, Kirshner’s live-TV credits include the “Daytime Emmy Awards,” the “Tony Awards,” the Fourth of July “Boston Pops Fireworks Spectacular,” the “Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade” on CBS, the Tournament of Roses “Rose Parade” and Disney’s “Champions on Ice.”

To read previous columns by Lisa de Moraes, go to washingtonpost.com/
tvblog.

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