Fox rejects Super Bowl ad with actor's bare rear

Friday, January 7th 2005, 7:01 pm
By: News On 6

LOS ANGELES (AP) _ Mickey Rooney's bare end zone won't be part of the Super Bowl advertising blitz, Fox TV said Friday.

A cold remedy commercial that includes a brief shot of the 84-year-old actor's nude behind was rejected by the network, 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 for a couple seconds.

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. with his wife, Victoria Knight-McDowell, also defended the ad Friday: ``There's nothing titillating about this spot, nor was there intended to be a sexual aspect to it.''

Fox's decision was somewhat understandable ``given the prevailing climate of censorship about nudity on television shows,'' McDowell said. But the company has filed a complaint with the FCC to try to reverse it.

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, McDowell said.

``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.''

The commercial, which cost about $200,000 to produce, may end up elsewhere on television such as in late-night. It may also be seen, at least in part, on news shows, McDowell said.