2004 may go down in history as the year of the runaway breast. Yes, there was Janet Jackson’s Super Bowl flash, but don’t forget Tara Reid’s absent-minded red carpet dress-drop or the uproar over a sexy “Desperate Housewives” promo for Monday Night Football. Add in Colin Farrell’s missing manhood from the movie “A Home at the End of the World” and the curtailed puppet sex in “Team America: World Police,” and this was the year of nudity both seen and imagined.
MOST INFAMOUS WARDROBE MALFUNCTION: Janet is disqualified because nobody believes it was an accident. So the prize goes to “American Pie” actress Reid, who – while entering a recent P. Diddy party – flashed a big smile for paparazzi while the strap of her black gown hung at her hip, exposing a surgically enhanced left breast complete with black-and-blue scar.
WORST OVERREACTION: ABC flagellated itself over a saucy intro to “Monday Night Football” that featured a suddenly towel-less Nicollette Sheridan leaping into the arms of Eagles wide receiver Terrell Owens. Some viewers complained, inducing a mea culpa from everybody but the football. Where’s the outrage over those Herbal Essence shampoo commercials?
WORST UNDERREACTION: Tara Reid’s red-carpet handler, who took about 10 seconds amid the snapping of flashbulbs to realize that Frankenboob had made an appearance. And even after she pulls the dress back on, a dazed Reid doesn’t appear to know it happened.
THE FALAFEL TRUTH: In a lawsuit accusing Fox News commentator Bill O’Reilly of sexual harassment, a former employee recounted overtly sexual phone calls from “The No-Spin Zone” host in which he says he’d like to scrub her with a loofah in the shower, then later refers to the sponge as a “falafel.” Is it wrong to say you’ll rub fried chickpeas on a bathing underling? We’ll never know – O’Reilly reached an undisclosed settlement.
BIGGEST LOSER: Whoopi Goldberg, who made a joke using President Bush’s last name as a sexual reference. Her remark, made at a campaign rally for Democratic challenger John Kerry, led the diet drink company Slim Fast to drop her like a few extra pounds.
WORST PRODUCT PLACEMENT: Star Jones’ promo-filled wedding. The sassy co-host of TV’s “The View” plugged companies and products that supplied her, her groom and the guests at her star-studded bash with freebies. As if people weren’t sick enough of hearing about her “fairy tale wedding” already. We await the arrival of her firstborn: Pampers Halliburton Fritos Jones.
MISSING MANHOOD: Wine-swigging, cigarette-puffing bad-boy thespian Colin Farrell lost his ballyhooed full-frontal shot in the drama “A Home at the End of the World,” reportedly because the filmmakers feared it would distract audiences. He later managed to slip a tiny reproductive glimpse into a sex scene from “Alexander.” Perhaps then audiences were too distracted by his bad dye job to notice.
ALL APOLOGIES: Maybe the broadcast networks should run a constant “apology crawl” under every telecast. Although “Saving Private Ryan” aired uncut – including profanities and gory war violence – on ABC twice before, when the network tried to show it again on Veterans Day, 66 affiliates covering roughly one-third of the country refused to air it.
MOST WOODEN SEX SCENE: “South Park” creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker had a surefire scene to steam up the ratings board in “Team America: World Police” – puppet sex. Their political satire included an extended romp between two marionettes who try out a series of positions straight from the world of “Kinsey.” The ratings board balked at the overt ribaldry, even though the puppets had only hinges and joints where their naughty bits should be.
BEST SLAPDOWN: Jon Stewart of “The Daily Show” appeared on CNN’s “Crossfire” and very calmly, very coolly whipped the two co-hosts – lefty Paul Begala and righty Tucker Carlson – into jelly without ever raising his voice or flailing his arms. Brutally uncomfortable, Stewart indicted them for bringing little more than PR spin to American voters. Stewart’s best retort (after a pummeled Carlson tells him “Come on, be funny!”): “No. No. I’m not going to be your monkey.”