The Fix

Sean Penn and Nicole Kidman head to the U.N., Jay-Z and Beyonce may marry, and Dennis Quaid says Russell Crowe did him a big, fat favor. Plus: The wild evolution of the Super Bowl halftime show.


Amy Reiter
January 30, 2004 7:34PM (UTC)

Afternoon Briefing:

U.N. says yes to Nicole and Sean: In a surprise move, U.N. Secretary Kofi Annan has given director Sydney Pollack the OK to shoot his film "The Interpreter" (starring Kidman and Penn) inside the U.N. headquarters in Manhattan. (CNN)

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Take my wife, please: Is Dennis Quaid grateful to Russell Crowe for having an affair with Quaid's then-wife Meg Ryan? Crowe "forced us to face up to something, because we were clinging on to a dead relationship," Quaid is reported to have said. "I felt hurt and humiliated, of course, but we hadn't been getting on for quite some time. We were bored with each other." (IMDB)

The big 5-"O": Oprah Winfrey turned 50 yesterday and a tribute show honoring her included performances by Stevie Wonder and Tina Turner. Nicole Kidman, Halle Berry and Sidney Poitier showed up, too, and John Travolta acted as emcee. (BBC)

Power-couple watch: Now that Bennifer has split, we can keep our eyes on Rapper Jay-Z and Beyoncé. Jay-Z told a party crowd this week that he would marry his lady "very soon." (3amGirls)

Liz on Liz: Liz Smith reports that Elizabeth Taylor would pick Scarlett Johansson to play her in the story of her life, should such a film ever be made. (Liz Smith)

Super Bowl silliness: If you want to skip the formal halftime festivities, Pay Per View is offering "Lingerie Bowl," which features gals in their underwear playing a friendly game of tackle. (Ad Age)

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-- Karen Croft

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This year's Super Bowl halftime show, the second produced by MTV, will showcase Janet Jackson, P. Diddy, Kid Rock and Nelly in what the NFL calls a "megastar lineup" -- with a distinctly hip-hop flair. But megastars haven't always taken center stage at football's annual championship. For 20 years, marching bands, jazz musicians and folksy youth groups dominated entertainment at the half.

Here's a history of Super Bowl halftime shows -- proof that the old-timers are right, and once the game really was just about the game:

Jan. 15, 1967, Super Bowl I: The first halftime show doesn't offer much star power. In a lopsided contest that sees Green Bay beat Kansas City, 35-10, the Universities of Arizona and Michigan marching bands play the national anthem and provide rather traditional halftime entertainment -- ironic considering that Michigan's campus at the time is a hotbed of anti-Vietnam activity and social upheaval.

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For the next two years, the Super Bowl sticks with bands -- first Grambling and then Florida A&M, performing the theme "America Thanks."

1970, Super Bowl IV: In the first halftime appearance by a celebrity, bubbly blond Broadway actress Carol Channing performs a Mardi Gras bit with trumpet player Al Hirt, but the float carrying them gets stuck in mud in the middle of the field. Tractors have to come tow them out, delaying the game by a few minutes. Next year's halftime reverts to the trusty marching band format.

1972, Super Bowl VI: The return of celebrity -- Channing and Hirt are back, this time with jazz legend Ella Fitzgerald in a tribute to Louis Armstrong. They're joined by the U.S. Marine Corps Drill Team.

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Marching bands dominate for the next few years, until 1976, which marks our nation's bicentennial and the beginning of a Super Bowl halftime tradition.

1976, Super Bowl X: The international amateur singing group "Up With People" performs a tribute to America titled, "200 Years and Just a Baby." They were hired for their squeaky-clean image -- NFL PR director Don Weiss said he didn't want a "rated-X" act -- although reportedly the biggest impact on fans at the game was made by the Dallas Cowgirls and their "hot pants and halters."

Over the next 10 years, "Up With People" perform three more times at the Super Bowl's half, holding the record for most appearances. Their last halftime show takes place in 1986 at Super Bowl XX. Their final Super Bowl number? "The Beat of the Future."

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By the end of their halftime reign, many journalists are down on "Up With People" and its highly enthusiastic, ultra-wholesome young singers and dancers. Sports columnist Mike Celizic dubbed them "Up With Airheads," and the Los Angeles Times and Washington Post ran a column listing the top 10 reasons baseball is better than football: "Up With People" was No. 4.

1988, Super Bowl XXII: A performance by Chubby Checker, the Rockettes, 88 grand pianos and a former U.S. Hula Hoop Champion marks an initial, tentative return to celebrity and the end of college marching bands and high school drill teams in the halftime show. "Chubby's gained weight," notes one columnist. The spectacle reportedly leaves fans at the game "silenced, unstirred even."

1991, Super Bowl XXV: A watershed moment for the halftime show, this year's intermission features the first true big-name stars: New Kids on the Block, produced by Disney and singing "A Small World Salute to 25 Years of Super Bowl." Two thousand kids -- including 50 children of soldiers in Desert Storm (despite the predominance of African-Americans in the military, only one of these youngsters is black) -- join the New Kids for what's touted as the "first all-children" Super Bowl halftime performance. They are addressed by President Bush. One columnist wrote that the Disney-sponsored production made him "want to go out and kick a puppet."

1992, Super Bowl XXVI: Gloria Estefan sings, Brian Boitano and Dorothy Hamill skated, and a 150-member drill team, a 60-piece band, baton twirlers and 2,000 dancers did their things. There are wind machines, dry ice for fog and even snowmobiles to transport the skaters. The song? "Pump It Up, Frosty." Noted one Canadian columnist: "The cost was staggering. The intellectual content was nil ... the definitive manifestation of the cultural sterility of the melting pot."

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1993, Super Bowl XXVII: "Heal the World" is sung by Michael Jackson -- and 5,500 children. Jackson calls it an opportunity to spread the message of "world peace." Just months before the singer was to face allegations of sexually abusing a young boy, the Cleveland Plain Dealer commented on his halftime performance as follows: "With several thousand children frolicking about him and the whole gang singing about peace and love and the human race, Jackson somehow felt compelled to reach out and touch himself -- in the crotch."

1994, Super Bowl XXVIII: "Rockin' Country Sunday" features Clint Black, Tanya Tucker, Travis Tritt, and Wynonna and Naomi Judd.

1997, Super Bowl XXXI: "Blues Brother Bash," promoting the upcoming "Blues Brothers" sequel (which subsequently flops), showcases Dan Aykroyd, John Goodman, James Brown and ZZ Top.

1999, Super Bowl XXXIII: Stevie Wonder, Gloria Estefan and Big Bad Voodoo Daddy join forces to "celebrate" the genres of soul, salsa and swing. "It was pure America," wrote funnyman Ben Stein, who attended with his wife. "First, hundreds of young men and women came onto the field and waved some scarves. Then the now-very-big Stevie Wonder appeared and sang ... Then Gloria Estefan came out ... Then a band called "Big Bad Voodoo Daddy" came out and sang along with a large group of men with tight pants and bare chests ... I was breathless when it ended."

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2001, Super Bowl XXXV: MTV takes over, producing a show featuring *NSYNC, Aerosmith and Britney Spears -- and promptly releases the spectacle as a music video.

2002, Super Bowl XXXVI: U2 performs a moving tribute to the victims of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks; a banner bearing their names is unfurled behind the band during the show. "At halftime," writes the New Orleans Times Picayune, "eyes welled and throats tightened when the usual extravaganza gave way to something far more poignant."

Two years later, Bono asks to perform at halftime of this year's Super Bowl XXXVIII, saying he'll use the event as a platform to speak about AIDS. The NFL turns him down. Spokesmen claim they don't want the performance "to focus on a single issue."

-- Christopher Farah

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Morning Briefing:

Mouse mess: Talks break down between Disney and Pixar, sparking speculation that Michael Eisner might be on his way out the door at Disney -- and that Pixar's Steve Jobs might be tapped to take his place. (N.Y. Times)

Not a friend: ABC News clears up confusion over Barbara Walters' attendance at the Martha Stewart trial, says she sat in seats reserved for Martha's supporters because they afforded her a better view than the seats earmarked for journalists and was in no way there as a friend to Stewart. (N.Y. Newsday)

Dubious but compelling news item of the day: The Times of India is reporting that Ashton Kutcher has been taking Viagra to "keep up with ... Demi Moore's demands in the sack." The paper says Kutcher told the U.K. Sun, "Man it was like a rocket taking off from a launch pad." (Times of India)

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Amy Reiter

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