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TV censors to allow expletive on CBS drama

By The Associated Press
Arizona Daily Wildcat,
October 15, 1999

NEW YORK - CBS's ''Chicago Hope'' medical drama breaks an obscenity barrier for network television Thursday night with actor Mark Harmon's use of a common barnyard epithet.

Harmon, playing Dr. Jack McNeil, is hauled before a medical review board to explain why a promising teen-aged baseball pitcher had to have his arm amputated when an infection set in following a series of operations.

''S-t happens,'' Harmon said, using an epithet for excrement.

Neither a CBS spokesman nor Henry Bromell, executive producer of the series, could remember a time when censors had allowed the word to be used.

''It's nothing I haven't tried a couple of times before, except this time, I won,'' Bromell said.

Since producers felt strongly that the word was important for artistic truthfulness, CBS chose to support them, spokesman Chris Ender said.

''Clearly this is not something happening on a weekly basis,'' he said. ''This is an isolated incident. It's not a sign or a signal that CBS is loosening its standards.''

CBS is, in fact, taking special steps to respond to any of its more than 200 affiliates who may be concerned about offending viewers, he said. The network planned to feed the video to affiliates Thursday afternoon, instead of live Thursday night, to give the local stations the option of masking the word, he said.

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