While Janet Jackson’s breast-baring performance during the Super Bowl halftime show in 2004 may have left the singer blushing, it created a major headache for U of T law grad Jonathan Anschell (BA 1989 UC, LLB 1992).
As executive vice-president and general counsel for CBS Television, Anschell has been engaged in a three-year legal battle with the Federal Communications Commission, which fined the network $550,000 for airing Jackson’s “wardrobe malfunction.”
It’s not the only job on Anschell’s plate, of course. The 39-year-old Calgary native and his team of 45 lawyers negotiate contracts with actors, protect the network’s intellectual property against Internet piracy, and assess legal risks for episodes of shows such as Survivor, CSI, and 60 Minutes. Anschell says Survivor requires special care. “We’re always trying to strike an appropriate balance between keeping the participants safe and putting them into exciting situations that make for good television.”
Because of his work, Anschell has rubbed shoulders with a lot of celebrities, but one meeting in particular stands out. “The first year I went to the Emmy Awards, I was seated immediately behind David Shore, the creator of House,” he says. After Shore accepted his trophy for Outstanding Writing for a Drama Series and returned to his seat, Anschell tapped him on the shoulder, and the two chatted about something they had in common. No, not television: U of T law school.