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MTV may tone down sex, drug use on controversial ‘Skins’

Updated: September 24, 2012 6:25AM

MTV usually loves controversy to swirl around its programming, but with the new show “Skins,” some network honchos are worried they may have gone too far.

As expected, family values groups are screaming — and charging the show’s use of minor actors appearing to engage in illicit drug use and inappropriate sex acts violates federal child pornography laws.

That alone has scared off a number of high-profile advertisers — including Taco Bell, General Motors, Subway, Schick and Chicago’s own Wrigley gum — and stirred a great deal of angry chatter behind the scenes in MTV’s executive suites.

Officially, the network is sticking to a statement that it has “confidence [‘Skins’] will continue to connect with the audience it was created for and that advertisers will take advantage of the opportunity to reach them.”

However, a source inside MTV said Wednesday, “It would have been far simpler if we had found older actors who look like young teens, just to avoid some of the legal problems we may face.”

Already, upcoming “Skins” episodes have been somewhat toned down, with hopes of both keeping its target audience of 12- to 34-year-olds while luring back those lost advertisers.

OH, WELL … Superdiva Cher was so confident her “Burlesque” song “You Haven’t Seen the Last of Me” was going to be nominated for an Oscar, she reportedly already was in talks with fave designer Bob Mackie to whip up red-carpet arrival and performance gowns for Feb. 27.

Only problem: The Diane Warren song wasn’t nominated on Tuesday, leading Cher to tweet: “We didn’t get a nomination 4 best song! That sucks! Diane’s song is so beautiful! It’s hard to understand how u win the Golden Globe 4 BEST SONG & not even get nominated by the OSCARS?”

HOT TIP: Ice Cube is best known lately for his hit movies, but the entertainment mogul and superstar heads back to Chicago and back to his hip-hop roots — boosting his latest release, “I Rep That West” — with a March 13 concert at the new local venue the Mid, 306 N. Halsted.

NO TEXTING HERE: In this digital age, it’s interesting that the “save the date” notes sent to other European royal guests for Prince William and Kate Middleton’s April 29 wedding were sent via FAX.

There apparently is a good reason. After recent hackings into various royal family members’ cell calls, text messages and other computer communications, the digital-phobic Windsors have gone more late 20th century to reach out to their fellow royals.

ANOTHER REMAKE: Jada Pinkett Smith and Will Smith are teaming up with Jay-Z to launch a big-screen remake of “Annie,” starring the couple’s daughter Willow Smith.

BACK TO BASICS: Due to technical issues, Roe Conn and Richard Roeper’s broadcast Friday from Las Vegas of their daily WLS-AM (890) chatfest won’t be able to include video of the duo for their TV simulcast on Chicago Nonstop, the digital platform for NBC Chicago, airing on Channel 5.2.

So iO Theatre’s Charna Halpern is helping out with puppets from iO’s weekly “Felt” show — complete with name tags to identify Conn and Roeper, plus guests such as David Copperfield, Penn Jillette and Carrot Top.

SIGHT SEEN: Yes, that was Tony Award-winning dance legend Ann Reinking spied on the Chicago Architecture Foundation’s “Devil in the White City” bus tour recently. It was all for Rein­king, Melissa Thodos and the Thodos Dance Chicago dancers to draw inspiration for the troupe’s world premiere of “The White City: Chicago’s Columbian Exposition of 1893,” bowing Feb. 19 at the North Shore Center in Skokie and March 4 at the Harris Theater downtown.

† While in town for a friend’s wedding, actor Channing Tatum and his wife, Jenna Dewan Tatum, hung out at the James Hotel.

FILM FLASH: The very first screening of the drama “The Music Never Stopped” after its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival is at 7:30 tonight at the Music Box Theatre — featuring a Q&A with director Jim Kohlberg.

SPELLING BEE: I hereby restore the correct spelling to Jaime Pressly’s last name. I must have had Elvis on the brain yesterday.

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