LOS ANGELES — Mickey Rooney’s bare end zone won’t be part
of the Super Bowl advertising blitz, Fox TV said Friday.
The network rejected a cold remedy commercial that includes a
brief shot of the 84-year-old actor’s behind, said Fox Sports
spokesman Lou D’Ermilio.
“Our standards department reviewed the ad, and it was deemed
inappropriate for broadcast television,” he said.
The commercial for the over-the-counter product Airborne is set
in a sauna and depicts Rooney panicking when someone coughs. His
towel drops as he rushes out, revealing his rear.
Fox’s decision wasn’t affected by fallout from last year’s Super
Bowl halftime show on CBS, which included a flash of Janet
Jackson’s breast, D’Ermilio said.
“Our standards and practices haven’t changed,” he said.
The Federal Communications Commission levied a $550,000 fine
against CBS parent company Viacom over the Jackson incident. Viacom
is contesting the fine.
Rooney, whose films include the Andy Hardy series and “National
Velvet,” said he was disappointed by Fox’s move and hoped the
network would reconsider.
“I would never do anything that’s in bad taste.
I’ve been a
family entertainer all my life,” Rooney told The Associated Press.
“We’re not selling sex, we’re selling a health product.”
Rooney and his wife, Jan, are touring nationally in a stage
production, “Let’s Put on a Show.”
Rider McDowell, co-owner of Carmel-based Airborne Inc., also
defended the ad Friday: “There’s nothing titillating about this
spot, nor was there intended to be a sexual aspect to it.”
The company has filed a complaint with the FCC to try to reverse
Fox’s decision, although McDowell said it was somewhat
understandable “given the prevailing climate of censorship about
nudity on television shows.”
In a Jan. 3 letter to the commission, attorneys for Airborne
argued the ad is not indecent and asked the FCC to either order Fox
to run the ad during the game or ask Fox to provide more
information on why it rejected it.
An FCC spokeswoman told USA Today that the commission, which
responds to complaints after a broadcast, would never issue such an
order, the newspaper reported Friday.
Given that it would cost $1.2 million to air the 15-second ad
during the Feb. 6 football championship game, the company won’t
spend that kind of money if it can’t be assured maximum effect,
“We had to come up something sensational that would leave
people with a lingering buzz or chuckle,” he said. “To edit that
out would be to emasculate the ad somewhat.”