Media Circus: Special Edition
1. Blowout City
Raise your hand if you stayed until the conclusion of the BCS title game between Alabama and Notre Dame. Yeah, we didn’t think so. Nothing destroys a broadcast faster than a noncompetitive game, and if either the 49ers or Ravens lead by three touchdowns heading into the fourth quarter, the sound you’ll hear will be clickers across the country turning to Real Housewives of Atlanta and elsewhere.
2. Halftime Hell
Back in a simpler time -- February 2004 -- Justin Timberlake famously tore off part of Janet Jackson's costume, exposing her breast to a CBS audience of nearly 90 million viewers. Showing F. Lee Bailey flare, Timberlake blamed a "wardrobe malfunction” for the incident, but Federal Communications Commission chief Michael Powell had another phrase for it. He called it "a classless, crass and deplorable stunt." Even worse is when the Super Bowl halftime entertainment is comically brutal, as this epic gallery recalls. CBS needs a clean 12-minute performance from Beyoncé, who on Thursday promised she’ll be singing live from the Superdome. If Beyoncé tanks, you can bet all the single ladies (and the rest of us) won't be happy.
3. Ray Lewis-Cam
Pregame interview with Shannon Sharpe? Check. Pregame speech in the locker room? Check. Pregame squirrel dance on the Superdome turf? Check. We accept that CBS will feature the Ravens' linebacker on Sunday more than it does its CSI franchise, but the network --- and especially announcers Jim Nantz and Phil Simms – need to be judicious about how far they go with the Lewis love-in.
4. Sideline Issues
Network directors and producers will tell you that the part of the field they worry about most is the sidelines. It’s a busy intersection of players, officials and other assorted characters, and it’s where the Super Bowl is often decided. So when the key sideline play comes on Sunday -- a year ago it was Mario Manningham’s 38-yard catch up the left sideline on the Giants' game-winning drive -- the camera people need to be in place or CBS is going to get lit up instantly on social media.
5. The Setup
CBS’s four-hour pregameapalooza is designed to get us jacked for the game, so we urge the network to keep the vapid and inane interviews to a minimum. Sure, there will always be a certain amount of entertainment on a Super Bowl pregame show, but the soul-sucking, sycophantic red carpet interviews conducted by Fox's Michael Strahan and Maria Menounos and NBC’s Nick Cannon over the past two years have been spectacularly awful.