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CBS Show Breaks Obscenity Barrier

October 15, 1999

NEW YORK (AP) _ An obscenity barrier has been broken on network television, with the use of an epithet for excrement on CBS’s ``Chicago Hope.″

Actor Mark Harmon, playing Dr. Jack McNeil on the medical drama, was appeared before a medical review board on Thursday night’s show 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.

``---- happens,″ Harmon said.

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 took special steps to respond to any of its more than 200 affiliates who may have been 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.

A handful of stations expressed concern upon hearing about the expletive, Ender said.

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