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Fox Censors Sally Field's Anti-War-Moms Speech, and Other Emmy Musings

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Ryan Secreast's tediousness aside, Sunday was a good night for strong, funny, talented character actresses at the 59th Emmy Awards. The fantastic America Ferrera scored Best Actress for her beautiful-from-the-inside-out, Latinas-rule title role on Ugly Betty, Tina Fey's 30 Rock took home Best Comedy (hopefully a ratings boost will follow, so that next time Fey wins she'll thank more than their "dozens and dozens of viewers"), and Elaine Stritch was wacky and witty when she nabbed Best Guest Actress on a Comedy Series (I didn't jot down what she said in her acceptance speech, but it was similar -- though less bleeperific -- to her hilarious exclamation at last week's Creative Arts Emmys, a la New York magazine: "Un-fucking-believable... I'm a recovering alcoholic, a riddled diabetic, and I've got laryngitis ... but I just won an Emmy!")

But the telecast took a disappointing turn when Sally Field won for Best Lead Actress in a Drama Series for her role as the matriarch of Brothers and Sisters. Field is an exceptional actress and I was glad to see her honored; the disappointment came during her acceptance speech. Seems Emmy voters really, really like Sally Field (sorry for that so-old reference, I couldn't help it) -- but Foxcensors, not so much. All was well as she started her heartfelt (though clearly rehearsed) comments:

"How can that be, these wonderful actors?... [This award] belongs to the mother of the show, the real mother of the show, Sarah Kaplan. It belongs to our incredible, eclectic, ingenious writers, all of them are endlessly energetic and supportive crew, these actors that I get to stand across from, Rachel Griffiths and Calista Flockhart, to my family that I would be nothing without them. But at the heart of Nora Walker she is a mother. So surely this belongs to all the mothers of the world. May they be seen, may their work be valued and raised. And to especially to the mothers who stand with an open heart and wait. Wait for their children to come home from danger, from harm's way, and from war."

As the audience erupted in applause, she eyeballed the quickly-ticking Emmy clock and screamed, "Hurry up! Quiet! I have to finish talking!" After an awkward moment or two of stammering as she tried to regain her derailed train of thought ("And... and to war... oh God, I forgot what I was gonna say! Oh, ah.. to war!") , she quickly finished her acceptance speech but was comepletely cut off by the network:

"I am proud, I am proud to be one of those women. And let's face it. If mothers ruled the world, there would be no -- "


At this point, home viewers were left to wonder, Um... no what? Unlike most network censors of live telecasts, which tend to use their three or five second delay option to simply bleep the stray "Holy sh*T" or F-bomb from over-exuberant celebs, Fox cut away from Field entirely, leaving about six seconds of dead air on screen, finally cutting back to her "Thank you" as she left the stage.

What Field actually said was, "If mothers ruled the world, there would be no god-damned wars in the first place." (Not all that far-fetched, considering that Mother's Day was first established as a gathering of mothers rising up against the devastation of war on their families.) But apparently, Fox considers the idea that mothers oppose war is just too obscene for America's virgin ears.

Not that I'm surprised that Fox would consider a feminist political statement not-ready-for-primetime, but if anyone tries to tell me that they cut away for six seconds because she said "God-damn" -- I just don't buy it. If that was the case, those two words would have been bleeped, and the rest of her sentence would have aired uncut. (Not to mention that Canadian viewers magically heard the whole speech uncut... But, check it out and decide for yourself:

[***See update below for follow-up comments from Sally Field on her response to censorship.]



In other unrelated Emmymusings:

-- I thought Queen Latifah was an odd choice of star to introduce the 30-year nod to the groundbreaking miniseries Roots; I love me some Queen, but it might have been more impactful if the Academy had asked someone with more seasoned acting chops, or perhaps one of the stars of Roots. Regardless, Emmy scored a few points for honoring the miniseries that brought America's brutal history of slavery to the mainstream small screen.

-- Loved how stunned and happy 30 Rock's Jack McBrayer (one of the most brilliant improv comics in the country -- a veteran of Chicago's best improv troupes, Second City and Baby Wants Candy, and New York's Upright Citizens Brigade Theater) seemed on the Emmy stage, with his perpetual corn-fed, "Really? Me? Here?" look on his face...

-- Gotta love Jon Stewart (even if he and Stephen Colbert were robbed -- robbed, I say!! -- by Tony Bennett). Backstage in the press room (via a clip from E!), the Daily Show host was asked, "So you nab the first phone interview with O.J. in jail. What would you ask him?... so like Paris did with Barbara. You get the first jail interview. What would you ask him?" To which Stewart retorts, "Is this how it goes down, Capone? You killed two people and they get you for kicking in a door in Vegas? Is that how it goes? Wow. What a drag. What a shame. What a shame."

To post your feedback or to hear more Emmy musings -- including thoughts on red carpet treatment of Ellen DeGeneres and Portia de Rossi, swipes at Seacrest, and more on America Ferrera, Elaine Stritch, Kathy Griffin -- and for Sally Field's follow-up comments in reaction to the censorship of her speech, continue reading here.


This post originally appeared at WIMN's Voices: A Group Blog on Women and the Media , a project of Women In Media & News, the national women's media analysis, education and advocacy group. To bring Jennifer L. Pozner to speak to your campus or community group, or to send her blog tips, email info [at] wimnonline [dot] org. To subscribe to WIMN's free media alert list, see the Action Center at http://www.wimnonline.org/action/.