Tony Gets Rough, Languagewise


Oh, those live awards shows. Even with the delay, stuff happens.

There was Bono on Golden Globes, then Nicole and Cher on the Billboard Awards. Now comes some rough language from Tony. No, not Soprano, Awards.

Somebody at CBS was slow on the button Sunday night at the tail end of a bit by John Mahoney and Jane Krakowski during CBS’s broadcast of the show. 

As Mahoney (Martin Crane in Frasier) was exiting the stage, still in character, he appeared to let slip the "GD" phrase, followed by that second or two of dead air that suggested somebody at the network heard the same thing I did and was trying to close the barn door after the horse had already bolted.

Although the FCC’s profanity crackdown got a smackdown last week by the Second Circuit,  that was for going beyond years of precedent on profanity, which has traditionally been defined as blasphemy. While the sexual and scatalogical references can be fleetingly flung with relative impugnity, at least until the FCC better justifies its decision to range beyond blasphemy, "GD" could still be trouble if the FCC ever gets the indecency enforcement enging chugging along again.

Ironically, I think Mahoney was on the show as an effort to make it more TV friendly. TV stars from Law & Order, Desperate Housewives, Frasier, House, American Idol and more were chosen as presenters with an eye toward linking Broadway and prime time, a point the show made pointedly.

Broadway, of course, has never been under the same restrictions as TV, so actors could talk like real people on stage instead of people working off scripts approved by standards and practices with an eye toward Washington. There were repeated "bitches" in a later production number, "The Bitch of Living" that were let pass unmolested, though an "ass" appeared to have been scrubbed from the same song.

CBS was still checking into the apparent Mahoney slip at press time.

By John Eggerton