At this point, no one should be all that surprised. Rock stars curse. But when it happens on American Idol, typically thought of as a bastion of family-friendly programming, and comes out of the mouths of judges Steven Tyler and Randy Jackson, it stops the show.
"Casey, man, you already are a cult hero," Tyler told Casey Abrams, who earned the judges' one and only save a few weeks ago and whose rendition of Maroon 5's "Harder To Breathe" impressed Tyler. "I mean, there's millions of people in America that are really angry because you pissed them off because you're so f---king good. You changed so many people's minds. I love you."
"Steven, Steven," interrupted Jackson, mimicking Tyler, "because he's so f---king good?" Jennifer Lopez was still looking at Tyler in astonishment. "The wheels have fallen off this program," said host Ryan Seacrest.
But here's what you didn't see when they finally cut to commercial: Led by executive producer Nigel Lythgoe, who raised his arms to the heavens, as if to say, "What was that?" a gaggle of nervous producers and network executives descended on the set in five seconds flat.
Then Lythgoe, trying not to laugh, got down on his knees in front of the judges' table, right in front of Tyler, and put his hands together in prayer, begging him to behave. Joining Lythgoe were Fox alternative programming chief Mike Darnell and executive producer Cecile Frot-Coutaz. They've got the tape-delay technology to deal with language like this. But they also know that it's not that hard to read lips. Even the camera operators were laughing. "Did you hear that?" asked one cameraman. "They're gonna have to bleep him big time." Said another camera operator, "There's a dead man in the control room right now, probably had a heart attack, and they're drawing lines around his body."
For his part, Tyler looked undisturbed, as if he couldn't understand what all the fuss was about. His two assistants arrived with the usual bag full of snacks — Tyler munches on junk food during commercial breaks — and hairspray to control his carefully arranged head of waves. He behaved for the rest of the night.