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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) – The NFL and NBC are apologizing for another Super Bowl halftime show.
There was no wardrobe malfunction, nothing like that glimpse of Janet Jackson’s nipple eight years ago that caused an uproar and a government scrutiny.
Instead, it was an extended middle finger from British singer M.I.A. during Sunday night’s performance of Madonna’s new single, “Give Me All Your Luvin.”’
In front of some 110 million viewers on NBC and uncounted others online, she flipped the bird and appeared to sing, “I don’t give a (expletive)” at one point, though it was hard to hear her clearly.
The NFL and NBC wasted little time in responding.
“The obscene gesture in the performance was completely inappropriate, very disappointing and we apologize to our fans,” said Brian McCarthy, spokesman for the NFL, which produced Madonna’s halftime show.
The risque moment came during the biggest TV event of the year. The screen briefly went blurred after M.I.A.’s gesture in what was a late attempt, by less than a second, to cut out the camera shot.
“The NFL hired the talent and produced the halftime show,” NBC spokesman Christopher McCloskey said. “Our system was late to obscure the inappropriate gesture and we apologize to our viewers.”
Jackson’s infamous oops during the 2004 halftime show raised a storm of controversy and put CBS in hot water with the Federal Communications Commission amid questions about the responsibility of TV networks to police their airwaves.
This year’s game is expected to challenge last year’s record of being the most-watched U.S. TV event ever.
After the incident, McCarthy said that M.I.A. had not done anything similar during rehearsals and the league had no reason to believe she would pull something like that during the actual show.
Madonna had admittedly been nervous about her performance, hoping to position herself as the queen of a new generation of pop stars with an opulent show and a sharp performance that mixed her new release with more familiar songs. She seemed like Roman royalty when muscle-bound men carried her extravagant throne across the football field to the stage for her opening song, “Vogue.”
Madonna carried gold pompons for a performance of her frothy new single. Twitter was alight with questions about the vocals being lip synched or augmented by tapes, particularly during this song.
Fans flooded the CBS New York Facebook page with comments about Madonna’s halftime show and M.I.A.’s obscene gesture.
“Vulgarity, not what a fine lady would do…ugly,” commented Anna Farrenson.
“Very staged and stiff. I wanted to see Madonna have more fun, dance. Lip syncing SUCKS,” Pamela Jenssen commented.
“Think she was being very conservative with her outfit because of her age. Which is fine! Her lip syncing was too noticeable,” said Eva Donnadio.
“Well, to be honest…I am 75-years-old and think that I could have danced her first number,” said Ruth Conner-Wickum.
But not everyone agreed.
“She was awesome. Not I bad for 53-yrs-old. The youngsters today wish they had half the talent,” commented Lois Nielsen Melchiore.
It was great, best one I’ve seen in quite some time,” said Nicholas McElroy.
The performance was also carried live on SiriusXM Radio, giving Madonna the biggest single audience of her career. For all the elaborate choreography and flashy effects, the finger incident is the more likely headline from the event.
Earlier, Kelly Clarkson, Blake Shelton and Miranda Lambert offered some pregame patriotism. Shelton and Lambert did a twangy duet on “America the Beautiful” and Clarkson, in a simple black dress, sang “The Star Spangled Banner” without a hitch after last year’s performer, Christina Aguilera, flubbed a line.
(TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)