Music Article

Banned in the USA

From Madonna's ''Like a Prayer'' video to ''Pee-Wee's Playhouse,'' we look at what the entertainment industry didn't want us to see

When Sinéad O'Connor's notorious potshot at the Pope was excommunicated from a recent Saturday Night Live repeat, the bit joined a long list of lost moments in entertainment. Below are some of the notable no-nos we may never see or hear again.

WHAT: Madonna's 1989 Pepsi ad featuring ''Like a Prayer''
WHY: Rev. Donald Wildmon and a Texas bishop attacked the ad not for its own content but for the images of burning crosses and a black Christ figure in Madonna's ''Like a Prayer'' video, which was released simultaneously.
WHERE IT STANDS: The commercial was shown once, then yanked off the air. Madonna's payoff: $5 million.

WHAT: Superstar: The Karen Carpenter Story, director Todd Haynes' campy 1987 film about the '70s singer
WHY: Karen's brother, Richard, objected to the Carpenters' music being in the film, which uses Barbie dolls to portray characters.
WHERE IT STANDS: In 1990 Richard got a court order to have all prints in distribution destroyed. A few underground copies remain.

WHAT: The last four minutes of Michael Jackson's 1991 ''Black or White'' video
WHY: The King of Pop smashed up car windows with a crowbar, shattering his image as a role model.
WHERE IT STANDS: Overwhelmingly negative reaction and the charge that the video condoned violent behavior forced Jackson and Sony's Epic Records to excise the final four.

WHAT: Prince's Black Album, scheduled for a 1988 release
WHY: The Purple One is reported to have nixed its release because he thought the material too depressing.
WHERE IT STANDS: Only 26 copies remain; one sold recently for $13,500. There are no plans to release the album.

WHAT: Pee-wee's Playhouse, cut from CBS' Saturday- morning lineup in 1991
WHY: Paul Reubens (a.k.a. Pee-wee Herman) was charged with indecent exposure in a Florida theater that shows X-rated movies; he pleaded no contest and paid a $50 fine.
WHERE IT STANDS: According to his agent, Reubens has not yet opened bidding for syndication rights but could at any time.

Originally posted Apr 23, 1993 Published in issue #167 Apr 23, 1993 Order article reprints