February 16, 2004 12:00 PM

Two days before her now notorious Super Bowl peep show, Janet Jackson was already feeling frisky. On Jan. 30 her stylist Wayne Scot Lucas went shopping for nipple jewelry at a boutique called Taurian Piercing & Metals in the edgy Montrose section of Houston. According to owner Byriah Dailey, the stylist took a liking to four rings, including a sterling silver sunburst that would become world-famous during CBS’s Super Bowl halftime show—specifically the moment when Justin Timberlake ripped away part of Jackson’s leather bustier to reveal her right breast to roughly 90 million viewers. Within hours the incident—or “wardrobe malfunction” as Timberlake tried to describe it—had triggered a flurry of protests, some fevered finger-pointing, a federal investigation and a crop of apologies.

Jackson’s unexpected peekaboo provided the climax for some bizarre Super Bowl entertainment that included Aerosmith in space suits, a crotch-grabbing Nelly and a streaker who was hog-tied by Houston cops moments after what the Federal Communications Commission called Jackson’s “classless, crass and deplorable stunt.” While the FCC has launched an investigation to determine what fines, if any, should be imposed on CBS and affiliate stations for Jackson’s overexposure, the NFL said that MTV, which produced this year’s Super Bowl halftime entertainment, will not likely be asked back. Meanwhile, in case anyone cares, the New England Patriots won the game. Here’s a look at some of the other winners and losers from what may be the most exciting—and certainly flashiest—Super Bowl ever.

Janet Jackson

Looks like she produced the greatest Super Bowl commercial ever—for her new album, Damita Jo, set for release March 30. Done up in a leather corset for her racy duet with Timberlake, Jackson, 37, later admitted to planning at least part of the stunt. (One photographer says her handlers warned him in advance to “be ready for a surprise.”) “The decision to have the costume reveal…was made after final rehearsals,” she said in a statement. “It was not my intention that it go as far as it did.” The original plan, claims someone close to Jackson, was only PG-13: “Justin was supposed to pull the bustier and a red lace bra was supposed to be revealed. Then the garment collapsed.” However, she was suspiciously well-prepared for just such a mishap, having chosen a stylish breast ornament in Houston just two days earlier.

Winner or Loser?

Winner. Her label, Virgin, rushed out a single from her album, she’ll likely be the biggest attraction at the Grammys on Feb. 8 (CBS says she will appear on the program), and at least for a few days she took the spotlight away from brother Michael’s child molestation charges.


His reaction to Jackson’s breast-baring? Shock and awe, according to people close to the ex-‘N Sync-er. The 23-year-old Timberlake happily signed on as Jackson’s bodice ripper, believing she would be left wearing a bra. He was all smiles about the incident after the broadcast, telling Access Hollywood, “We love giving you all something to talk about.” Still, he did issue a formal apology.

Winner or Loser?

Winner. McDonald’s—which boasts of its “multidimensional global relationship” with the pop idol—issued a disapproving statement (“Everyone involved has said it was an unfortunate mistake, and their apologies are certainly in order”), but Timberlake will still perform at the Grammys, and he managed to one-up former flame Britney Spears, whose smooch with Madonna at last year’s MTV Video Music Awards now seems quaint by comparison.


“I am outraged,” fumed FCC chief Michael Powell. “Americans should not have to tolerate such a gratuitous display of nudity.” Promising a “swift” investigation, the FCC could levy millions in fines against CBS.

Winner or Loser?

Winner. A swift politician, Powell (son of Secretary of State Colin) added fuel to the FCC’s campaign against indecent radio and TV broadcasts during hours when children are tuning in.


“We attended all the rehearsals of the show, and there was no indication at any time that such an inappropriate display was contemplated,” said CBS boss Les Moonves. The network has launched its own investigation and announced that the Grammys would be televised on a tape delay of several seconds to guard against bad behavior. Indeed, says Pam McNeely, senior vice president at Dailey & Associates, a Los Angeles-based media buyer, the Jackson stunt will have a profound effect on broadcasting. “Live TV, as we know it, is over,” she says. “From now on, live TV will be delayed because of one person’s stupid act.”

Winner or Loser?

Loser. Although Super Bowl XXXVIII drew enormous ratings, the Jackson flap is another black eye for the network, which is still smarting from other public criticism: for airing a softball Michael Jackson tribute special after the singer was accused of child molestation, and for not airing a biopic about the Reagans after pressure from conservative groups.


Officials claimed MTV was “as surprised and shocked as anyone” to suddenly become Mammary TV. “We absolutely, unequivocally, did not know this thing was going to happen,” says Judy McGrath, group president of MTV Networks. Still, that didn’t stop MTV from repeatedly airing tape of Jackson’s buzz-inducing bust-out.

Winner or Loser?

Winner. Though MTV issued an apology to CBS, viewers and the NFL, the Jackass network never seems to get too upset when it ruffles feathers. Chairman Tom Freston even managed to plug another MTV production when he said, “We got punk’d by Janet Jackson.”


Commissioner Paul Tagliabue threw a giant penalty flag. “The show was offensive, inappropriate and embarrassing to us and our fans,” he said, pointing the finger straight at MTV. “It was totally inconsistent with assurances our office was given.” He also promised to “change our policy, our people and our processes for managing the half-time entertainment.” Translation: somebody’s gonna get canned.

Winner or Loser?

Loser. The NFL and MTV probably won’t be doing business anymore. Looks like it’s back to “Up with People” for future halftimes.


Want to see high speed? Watch AOL’s little running man sprint away from the scandal. “While AOL was the sponsor of the Super Bowl half-time show, we did not produce it,” the company made clear in a statement. “We were surprised and disappointed with certain elements.”

Winner or Loser?

Toss-up. The stunt prevented AOL from broadcasting the show online as part of their estimated $10 million deal, but the Internet service provider could ask for a refund.

Alex Tresniowski. Gabrielle Cosgriff, Wendy Grossman, Heather Staible, Joy Sewing, Laurann Claridge, Carol Rust and Alicia Dennis in Houston, Frank Swertlow and Vickie Sheff-Cahan in Los Angeles and Jane Podesta in Washington, D.C.

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