ABC imposes tape delay on Oscars, Chris Rock. Over the Academy's objections, the awards gala will air not-quite-live, in case of any verbal or wardrobe offenses

By Gary Susman
Updated February 09, 2005 at 05:00 AM EST
Chris Rock
Credit: Chris Rock: Kevork Djansezian/AP

The Academy seems to have done everything it can to make this year’s Oscar show seem fresher and more spontaneous: Hire Chris Rock to host; send him out into the audience to joke with the A-listers; have presenters hand out trophies all over the auditorium; give Jamie Foxx two chances to deliver an acceptance speech. Still, ABC doesn’t want the show to be too spontaneous. Just in case Rock can’t manage to keep his usual R-rated verbiage out of the telecast, or in case, say, Ashley Judd wears a gown slit so high that she can’t walk across the stage without causing a wardrobe malfunction, the network will not air the show completely live but will impose a tape delay. ”We are going to have a delay, but we can’t confirm how long it will be,” an ABC spokeswoman told Reuters, but Variety reports that it’ll be seven seconds.

ABC imposed a seven-second delay for the first time last year, in the weeks following Janet Jackson’s Super Bowl debacle, though the awards show proved tame enough that producers never had to press the panic button and edit out anything. Given that the FCC levied record amounts in indecency fines last year, it’s no wonder ABC wanted to keep the option in place. They’re doing so, however, over the objection of the Academy. ”We don’t want them to do it,” an Academy spokesman told Reuters. ”But they are the ones that have the control.” Actually, what ABC needs more than a tape delay is a tape accelerator, to keep the show from dragging on longer than three hours.