*Viewers of TV Land’s American Film Institute tribute to Shirley MacLaine will be spared a joke told by insult comic Don Rickles comparing President Barack Obama to a janitor when the network airs its shortened version at 9 p.m. ET/PT on June 24.
“It’s not going to make it on the air —that’s all I’ll say about it,” a spokesperson for the cable channel told The Hollywood Reporter.
Meanwhile, Rickles’ rep tells THR: “He is not being censored. Before all of this started, we knew Don’s spot would be cut a bit for time, as would others, including possibly Shirley herself since the show ran over and we knew it was likely that might be edited. This is a non-story and requires no further comment.”
The black-tie evening, which took place at Sony Pictures Studios on June 7, lasted four hours. The network’s telecast will run just 90 minutes.
Rickles’ material also included jabs at Jack Nicholson, Warren Beatty and MacLaine, although none went viral like the 86-year-old’s comment about the current commander in chief. “President Obama is a personal friend of mine,” said Rickles. “He was over to the house yesterday, but the mop broke.”
Asked to comment on Rickles’ joke, black actor Dennis Haysbert, himself skewered by the comic for appearing in Allstate Insurance ads, carefully tells THR, “I thought what Don said about me was very funny.” (Rickles has appeared with him on “The Unit.”)
But, observes Tamara Rawitt — who attended the AFI event and co-created and produced “In Living Color” — of the POTUS slam: “What was kind of magical was watching a room of deeply discreet A-listers secretly get off on watching someone getting a day pass to rant and rave. You need two AARP cards to get away with stuff like that.”
TV Land presented Rickles with its Legend Award in 2009.