Lifetime and A&E on Jan. 28 released a highly explosive, very intimate two-part documented look at Janet Jackson’s life. If you haven’t been living under a rock as Janet Jackson was being discussed online, you’d know and understand just why the pop and R&B icon is notoriously private.
With a litany of scrutiny from the press, wild rumors and scandals that involved her late brother, Michael Jackson, and the fight for control over the course of her four decade career — Ms. Jackson has been very careful to keep her personal affairs out of the spotlight — until now. The release of the four-hour documentary has been riveting AF as she is finally ready to pull back the velvet rope.
Fans of Janet will appreciate this rare and intimate look at her childhood, rise to fame, marriages, and challenges she faced. Janet Jackson is a testament to the artist and mother’s own resilience and a welcomed reminder that she is still in control of her own narrative.
And since there were so many shocking revelations from the docu-series, BET.com has rounded up 10 of the biggest bombshells.
Janet Jackson addresses “secret baby” rumors with James DeBarge
First things first, Janet Jackson directly addressed the rumors that she had a secret baby with her first husband James DeBarge in the 1980s. At the time, speculation was swirling that she was hiding a child from public view while part of the cast of Fame, even going so far as to say that the youngling was being raised by her sister, Rebbie Jackson.
On Janet Jackson, she explained that people believed that she was pregnant because she gained weight. She also shared that she started taking birth control at the time, which caused the extra pounds, and reaffirmed that hiding a whole human being would never be her modus operandi.
“I could never keep a child away from James,” Jackson said. “How could I keep a child from their father? I could never do that, that’s not right.”
Q-Tip got to kiss Janet around “20 Times” in ‘Poetic Justice’
John Singleton’s Poetic Justice was a cinematic classic in the hood, which by all accounts had people envious of a certain scene involving a particular hip hop legend. Revealed in Janet Jackson, A Tribe Called Quest’s Q-Tip shared that he got to kiss the “Together Again” singer for about “like 20 takes” when he played Janet’s late boyfriend in the film.
“Man, my first acting gig [was] to kiss Janet Jackson about 20 times because we did like 20 takes,” he said on night two of the documentary. Yes, despite rapper Tupac Shakur, who played her love interest throughout the film, igniting chemistry on set — Tip shared the “amazing” experience because he got to kiss Janet so much.
Janet Jackson’s topless ‘Rolling Stone’ magazine cover was considered “bold” at the time
The infamous Rolling Stone cover featuring the pop icon posing topless was a moment when the culture took notice at how big things could become for artists in the same vein as Janet Jackson. While in a relationship with René Elizondo Jr., the photographed cover featured his hands covering her breasts, and was instantly disliked by members of the Jackson family.
“I did not like it,” Rebbie said during the documentary. “My mom really didn’t like it.”
However, “Ms. Jackson If Ya Nasty” revealed she felt “bold” posing for Rolling Stone. “I thought that was very bold of me, to be quite honest, to unleash that within my family. To everybody else, it was probably no big issue, but I'm talking about my family. Because that’s not how we were brought up. I do what I do because it’s something that I feel at that moment. I mean, I was happy.”
René Elizondo filmed Janet Jackson’s life for 10 years in never-before-seen videos
From the trailer, audiences knew they were in for a once-in-a-lifetime experience as there was footage that no one had ever seen before. The biggest draw came out in Janet Jackson when it was revealed that Jackson’s second secret husband, René Elizondo, Jr., had filmed fresh, never-before-seen perspectives of the star’s life via multiple personal home movies filmed over the course of over a decade.
From glimpses of their 1987 marriage proposal, which took place on a remote beach in Hawaii in the middle of a rainstorm, to the stage and performance planning for what would become the Rhythm Nation tour — Elizondo, Jr. and Jackson’s union would prove to be a fruitful and productive period in both of their lives.
Michael Jackson allegation cost Janet a “Mega Million” dollar deal with Coca-Cola
Coca-Cola was negotiating a multiple, “mega-million” dollar deal with Janet around the time the first allegation arose about Michael Jackson’s alleged inappropriate dealings with a 13-year-old boy. “They approached me since my brothers are with Pepsi,” she recalled in the docu-series. “They wanted me to do something with them.”
However, when the allegations came out and reached a fevered pitch, Coca-Cola said, “No, thank you,” according to Janet, adding, “but that’s the way the world is.”
Janet and Michael’s “brother-sister dynamic” started to drift after ‘Thriller’ was released
Longtime fans of The Jacksons could zero in on how intensely connected siblings Janet and Michael were. In multiple scenes during Janet Jackson, you can see moments where the two are thick as thieves when they reach the beginning heights of stardom, even collaborating on music together.
But when Michael released his sixth studio album, Thriller, their relationship notably shifted. “Whenever Mike would do an album, he’d throw me in his car and we’d listen to it from front to back to see what I thought,” Janet recalled. “I remember loving the ‘Thriller’ album. But for the first time in my life, that’s when I felt different between the two of us. That a shift was happening.”
She continued, “That's the time where Mike and I started going our separate ways. We weren't as close.”
Father Joe Jackson kept her from attending college
The Jackson’s family variety show featured everyone in the crew singing, acting, and performing for several years. Janet was one of the breakout stars amidst the super-talented collective, yet on Janet Jackson, she revealed that after the television series came to end she wanted to “retire” and go to college.
With plans to major in economics, Janet shared that once her brothers severed ties with their father Joe Jackson, he shifted all of his energy and attention to her as his next big act. Quickly, Joe pushed Janet into the studio to record her debut album, Janet Jackson in 1982, and her second album Dream Street in 1984, which meant that her own dreams of being a college student were dashed.
The Jackson Family experienced racism when they moved to L.A.
In Janet Jackson, she sets the scene where after The Jackson 5 made it big, the family as a whale left from hometown Gary, Indiana, to an affluent white neighborhood in Los Angeles. Despite becoming the first Black family to live in Encino, Janet recalls how they didn’t receive a warm and friendly welcome to the block.
“A lot of people didn't want us there,” Janet said. “They had this petition going around so that we wouldn't be in the neighborhood. I remember walking down the street and being called the n-word. Someone [was] driving by, yelling it out.”
She also detailed how she experienced racism at school, adding, “Some of [the] teachers and the kids [were] touching [my] hair because it was different from theirs, or [my] skin, rubbing it. [They'd ask,] ‘Does that come off?’”
Janet and Justin Timberlake’s Super Bowl backlash led to Grammys disinviting her
In her own confessional during Janet Jackson, the pop icon said that Justin Timberlake and her did speak after the Super Bowl wardrobe controversy. “We talked once, and he said, ‘I don’t know if I should come out and make a statement,’” Janet recalls. “I said, ‘Listen, I don’t want any drama for you. They’re aiming all of this at me.’ So, I just said if I were you, I wouldn’t say anything.”
She also addresses the blacklisting and Grammys controversy that followed, one more directly than the other. No specifics were given involving the alleged blacklisting, although a video clip did highlight a news piece that showed VH1 and MTV being asked to not play her album.
As for the Grammys, Janet states that she was “disinvited.” Jermaine Dupri, who also admitted to “being reckless” during his own relationship with Jackson, supported the claim, saying, “I felt like they were disrespectful to Janet, and I resigned at that point,” he says.
Janet got into very vocal and heated arguments with Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis
Rhythm Nation 1814 still remains a landmark album in pop music history, but back when Janet recorded the album, her ex-husband René Elizondo, Jr. had on footage one of her biggest fights with producers Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis. The never-before-seen footage was part of a decade-plus worth of life, which includes Janet recording a song at Flyte Tyme studios in Minneapolis.
Jimmy and Janet clash over her singing with more emotion, bubbling up to a boiling point after she hears Jimmy and Terry laugh from behind the boards. “I don’t need this. This has gone too far,” she says, storming out after the heated back-and-forth. While discussing their many disagreements, Jam revealed in the confessional, “If she disagreed with something, she was stubborn. Janet was very stubborn, but she would still attempt to do something.”
Janet added, “It's a lot of pressure. It's a lot of work. Either you can handle it or you can't. It does affect you, and what you do with that is really important.”