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Business Makeover: Saturday Night Live


How the late-night sketch show can re-establish its edge.

As blogs and the promptly posted YouTube (GOOG) videos have already told you, there was a small slip-up on the most recent episode of Saturday Night Live.

During her first episode as a featured player, 27-year-old Jenny Slate appeared in a run-of-the-mill talk show sketch entitled "Biker Chick Chat" -- positioned in the third to last slot of the show. The sketch called for the characters to repeatedly use the word "frickin'" in place of its infinitely more controversial cousin. Unfortunately, Slate let slip that phrase.

Despite the extensive coverage the swear garnered -- as well as a bona fide record for the number of publications using the grating term "F-bomb" -- no serious repercussions befell Slate, NBC, or its parent company General Electric (GE). Slate will remain in regular rotation on the staff, the show lost no sponsors for NBC, and General Electric will likely retain its global empire.

It's a surprisingly benign reaction when our uptight culture is a mere five years past the uproar Janet Jackson's partially exposed breast caused CBS (CBS), leaving network censors on edge lest a natural body part be revealed for a child to see. Even more surprising, the FCC -- which spearheaded an investigation as to whether Janet Jackson's body could be considered obscene -- is actually re-opening the 2005 case and may reverse the decision and the $550,000 fine issued against CBS.
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