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September 18, 2007

Cursing at the Emmys

You'd be forgiven if you were watching the Emmys on Sunday night and thought that Ray Romano said "fucking." That's because in the middle of Romano's joke about his former on-screen wife Patricia Heaton sleeping with her new on-screen beau Kelsey Grammer, the Fox censors used their seven-second buffer to cut awkwardly away from the presenter. While some articles that mention the incident reveal that the actual term used was "screwing" (and thus not particularly offensive), many media outlets are so worried about the delicate sensibilities of their readers that they fail to clear up the confusion. Here are a few examples:

Associated Press
Fox blacked out the show for a few seconds when Romano used a strong word in a joke about his former "Everybody Loves Raymond" wife, Patricia Heaton, sleeping with her new "Back to You" co-star Kelsey Grammer.

E! Online
Presenter Ray Romano got the silent treatment for joking that Kelsey Grammer was [blanking] his onetime TV wife, Patricia Heaton, on Grammer and Heaton's new Fox show, Back to You.

Minneapolis Star-Tribune
Ray Romano joked about his former "Everybody Loves Raymond" wife, Patricia Heaton, sleeping with Kelsey Grammer, her co-star on the new sitcom "Back to You."Shame on you. We have TV children!" he said. But he used a stronger word than "sleeping," which prompted Fox to cut away for a few seconds.

New York Times
Mr. Romano was censored when he made a joke about his former television wife—Patricia Heaton, his co-star on “Everybody Loves Raymond”—and her new character’s love affair with Kelsey Grammer’s character on “Back to You,” a Fox series that is to have its premiere this week.

Cincinnati Post
…Ray Romano's racy comment amount his former co-star, Patricia Heaton, "sleeping" with Kelsey Grammer in their new sitcom. The censored bits, part of a seven-second delay system, found viewers watching a jerky cut to the Shrine Arena, before going back live.

Chicago Sun-Times
Ray Romano joked that his ex-TV wife Patricia Heaton will soon be TV-banging Kelsey Grammer on a new Fox show, but whatever word Romano used for "banging" was too much for Fox, which silently cut away from him.

Baltimore Sun
Romano used a crude term to describe the sex act, and Fox silenced the audio and cut away from Romano to the same disjointed overhead shot of the auditorium.

Luckily, a few media outlets including Reuters deigned to tell readers what the supposedly offensive word was. Other performers were also censored during the broadcast, including Sally Field and Katherine Heigl, who mouthed the word "shit" when it was announced she had won an "Outstanding Supporting Actress" Emmy. Or, as the New York Times put it: "Perhaps the most surprising bit of censorship came as Ms. Heigl mouthed a curse word normally associated with frustration or disgust when she was announced as the winner of an Emmy for her role on ABC's 'Grey's Anatomy'."

Heigl had a great explanation for her use of the word, telling MSNBC that "My heart rate slowed down (then) they said my name and I nearly just shit myself. So that's where that came from."

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