The Naughty Broadcasting Company

By Lisa de Moraes
Tuesday, March 25, 2008

While the country waits with bated breath for the Supreme Court to weigh in on whether the Federal Communications Commission can penalize broadcast networks for fleeting uses of "naughty" words -- which seem to erupt most often when Hollywood celebrities pick up trophies at award shows -- those innovators at NBC 2.0 have come up with what appears to be the practically perfect FCC-fine-proof sitcom episode, in which the bad word most favored by Hollywood celebrities is referenced repeatedly.

On the April 10 episode of "30 Rock," the staff of the late-night show "TGS" has become obsessed with a new reality hit called "MIL[letter that's been deemed too naughty for The Washington Post when it follows M, I and L] Island."

For the uninitiated: MIL[WaPo Scarlet Letter] stands for Mothers I'd Like to [have sex with].

In this episode of "30 Rock" -- which NBC says also is titled "MIL[WaPo Banned Letter] Island" -- network bigwig Jack (Alec Baldwin) is watching the riveting finale of this reality-series hit, pitting the final two contestants, Debra vs. Deborah, when he is blindsided by a blind item in a newspaper gossip column. In it, a network staffer calls him a "Class A moron" and adds, "That guy can eat my poo."

Yes, it really says "poo" -- I have not been compelled to use "poo" by the WaPo Decency Police.

Anyway, Jack is mad as a wet hen about this gossip column item, because he's in the running for network chairman, based on the success of "MIL[WaPo Letter of Shame] Island." Hilarity ensues.

Last week the Supreme Court said it would chew on the issue of on-air naughty words for the first time in 30 years, looking at a lower-court ruling that smacked down the way the Federal Communications Commission had defined indecency on TV. The FCC hopes the Supreme Court will overturn a June ruling by the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals in New York that nicked the FCC for failing to justify its standard for "fleeting" indecency.

It all started in March '06 when the FCC announced Fox had violated decency regs when it broadcast Cher, picking up a trophy at the 2002 Billboard Music Awards, as she prattled merrily about how people had been saying for years she was so over and what she had to say to that was "[expletive] 'em."

FCC also felt Fox had crossed the line the next year, also at the Billboard awards, when trophy presenter Nicole Richie explained to millions of viewers at home that it was not so [expletive] easy to get [poo] out of a Prada purse.

The FCC also had nicked NBC for broadcasting a Golden Globe Awards ceremony in which Bono called his being named that year's best something or other "[expletive] brilliant."

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