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Correction to This Article
The Sept. 24 TV Column incorrectly said that Melina Kanakaredes stars in "CSI: Miami." She is on "CSI: NY."

$550,000 or Bust: A Precious Mammary

By Lisa de Moraes
Friday, September 24, 2004; Page C07

The day after the Federal Communications Commission declared Janet Jackson's right breast to be one of the most expensive adornments on earth, worth a cool $550,000 based on its ability to destroy the moral fiber of children at one peek, the Kaiser Family Foundation released a study revealing that Janet Jackson's Super Bowl breast-baring was of no consequence to 67 percent of American parents.

Breaking it down: 43 percent of parents interviewed said they were not at all concerned about the Super Bowl halftime performance in which Justin Timberlake ripped off part of Jackson's costume, briefly exposing her breast on national television.

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Ten percent said they were not too concerned, the study reported. Another 14 percent gave the incident a shrug because, they said, either they did not watch the halftime show or their children were too young to yet understand that a woman's breast is a very bad thing. Two percent refused to answer or said they simply did not know if they were concerned about the wardrobe malfunction.

Over in the Very Concerned Over Janet Jackson's Breast corner were 17 percent of those interviewed. Another 14 percent said they were somewhat concerned.

One day earlier, the FCC had officially put the price of Jackson's right breast at $550,000; that's the amount it wants to collect in indecency fines from TV stations owned by CBS, which telecast the halftime show.

In search of an expert to put this in context, we contacted Terry Dubrow, the breast specialist on Fox's plastic surgery series, "The Swan." Dubrow says he got a pretty good look at Jackson's breast while watching that halftime show at a screening party of plastic surgeons. He estimates it would take 250 cc's of silicone to re-create Jackson's right breast, which weighs about 10 ounces -- the implant, that is. Dubrow actually weighed one at the request of The TV Column, because we like to get these things right.

At $550,000 per 10 ounces, or $55,000 per ounce, that would make Jackson's breast about 122 times as valuable as gold and 59 times as valuable as platinum, though not nearly as valuable as emeralds. Really good emeralds go for about $1 million to $1.5 million per ounce, there being 141.7 carats in an ounce.

Also in the Kaiser Family Foundation study, 60 percent of parents said they were very concerned about the amount of sex their children are exposed to on television and 53 percent were very concerned about the amount of violence their children are exposed to on TV.

Interestingly, these numbers coincide almost exactly with the results of a recent TV Column study that found that 58 percent of parents do not know how to turn off the television sets in their homes.

In one of the most eagerly anticipated skirmishes of the new TV season, the debut of CBS's crime drama "CSI: NY" murdered the 15th-season debut of NBC's "Law & Order" Wednesday night.

"CSI: NY," the most watched series premiere to date this season, clocked 19.3 million viewers. "Law & Order" logged 15.4 million, down considerably from last year's season debut audience of nearly 21 million.

But even more stunning, ABC actually launched a drama series on Wednesday night.

That's right, the network famous for its long, unbroken streak of drama series failures, accomplished its biggest drama series opening in nine years Wednesday at 8 p.m. when 18.7 million people tuned in to the debut of "Lost" -- a show about the survivors of a plane crash on a previously unknown island that's inhabited by a big scary monster.

You may have seen the promos for "Lost" during ABC's coverage of the Primetime Emmy Awards. Ironically, about 5 million more people watched "Lost" than watched this year's Emmy Awards; ABC should have debuted "Lost" first and run promos in it for the Emmys.

And so much for the assertion by an exec at another network that you can't launch a drama series at 8 p.m.

"Lost" was the most watched non-franchise drama (that's ABC-speak for "not 'Law & Order' and not 'CSI' ") to debut on any network since January 1999. That 1999 debut, ironically, was of NBC's 8 p.m. drama "Providence." Which starred Melina Kanakaredes -- now starring in "CSI: Miami."

ABC's good luck did not hold out, however. The sixth edition of pick-a-mate reality series "The Bachelor," which followed "Lost" at 9 p.m., plunged to 8.2 million viewers -- the franchise's smallest debut audience ever, and down 26 percent compared with last year's debut with Bachelor Bob.

The steep ratings slide may be owing to the fact that this year "The Bachelor" debuted opposite a Dr. Phil special on CBS -- Dr. Phil, in one of those great mysteries of life, being a real chick magnet.

"Dr. Phil Primetime Special: Family First" delivered a robust 13 million viewers. That provided "CSI: NY" just the lead-in it needed to improve by 11.2 million viewers on the very sorry start of "The Brotherhood of Poland, N.H." in the same 10 p.m. slot last fall. Look for more Dr. Phil specials to show up on CBS this season.

CBS suits were trying hard not to dance the ratings happy dance yesterday. But they went ahead and announced that they'll air a "CSI" repeat in the 9 p.m. hour next Wednesday to give "CSI: NY" an extra boost for a second week.

Meanwhile, NBC is expected to announce any day now that "The Apprentice" will move to 9 p.m. Wednesday for one week only, leading in to "Law & Order." A presidential debate is scheduled for Thursday night next week, bumping both "CSI" and "The Apprentice" out of their regular time periods.


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