7 Key Moments in Janet Jackson Documentary – From ‘Secret Baby’ Rumors to Super Bowl Scandal

Janet Jackson and Randy Jackson visit their childhood home. (Credit: Lifetime )

The highly-anticipated Janet Jackson documentary aired Friday and Saturday on Lifetime and A&E, bringing new information about the superstar singer’s life, relationships, and the fallout from her “wardrobe malfunction” at the Super Bowl.

The four-hour film titled Janet Jackson opened with Janet visiting her hometown of Gary, Indiana and the small two-bedroom house she shared with her parents and famous siblings. Accompanied by her brother Randy Jackson, they toured the historic home and looked back on the Jackson family’s humble early years. Randy noted that their neighborhood had a high crime rate, and many of the boys he grew up with are now either dead or in jail.

Janet and Randy also discussed their father Joe Jackson’s razor-sharp focus on turning his children into stars and getting them out of Gary, but they admitted training under Joe’s tutelage wasn’t always easy. Below are several other key moments in Janet Jackson.

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Janet Jackson and Randy Jackson visit their childhood home. (Credit: Lifetime)
Janet and Randy Jackson visit their childhood home. (Credit: Lifetime)

Joe Jackson’s Plan for Success
After noticing his kids were talented performers, Joe came up with a plan to get his children on stage.

Joe took on the role of managing his kids and he was relentless. While other children were outside playing, Joe insisted the Jackson kids spend their free time singing, dancing, and rehearsing.

“It was tough at times. There was nothing easy about it. Period,” Janet said. “But when you see where we came from and where we are now, we owe so much to my father.”

Janet Jackson is shown with her father Joe Jackson. (Credit: Lifetime/Jackson Family)
Janet is shown with her father Joe Jackson. (Credit: Lifetime/Jackson Family)

College Was Not in the Plan
As a child, Janet said she felt left out while Joe worked to transform her older brothers into The Jackson 5. But by age seven, Joe decided it was time for Janet to get to work and put her on stage in Las Vegas alongside her brothers.

As a teenager, Janet told Joe she wanted to go to college to study business law, but he had other plans. “My father was very strict. He was in charge of my life, my career, and my father said, ‘You’re going to sing.’”

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Breaking Free From Her Parents
Janet eventually decided she wanted to be free from her parents’ grip. “The one way out was to get married,” she said.

She married James DeBarge, a member of the R&B group DeBarge. Like Janet, he came from a famous musical family. They tied the knot when she was 18, but the marriage was annulled a year later.

Janet said the relationship was doomed from the start because of James’ struggles with addiction. “When it comes to relationships, somehow I’m attracted to people who use drugs,” she said.

Janet Addresses Rumors of  a “Secret Baby”
Once news spread that Janet and James had married and broken up, reports surfaced that she had a “secret baby” being raised by her sister Rebbie Jackson.

Janet said the rumors took on a life of their own, even making national news. Rebbie appeared in the film and added that she was caught off guard by the stories of Janet secretly giving birth to a daughter. Janet insisted there was no truth to the rumors.

“I could never keep a child away from James,” she said. “How could I keep a child away from their father? I could never do that. That’s not right.”

Janet would later fall in love with her creative partner René Elizondo Jr. They got engaged in 1987 and later married.

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Thriller Changed Her Relationship With Michael
Growing up, Janet said she was closest to her brothers Randy and Michael. That would change with the release of Thriller, the best-selling album of all time.

Michael became one of the biggest stars on the planet, but the intense media scrutiny that followed took a toll and the two siblings grew apart. Janet recalled the moment she knew their relationship had changed.

“He would always come in my room and we would talk. And this particular time he came in my bedroom, neither one of us said a word to each other. And then he got up and left,” she said. “That’s the time where Mike and I started kind of going our separate ways. We weren’t as close.”

Janet Jackson and Michael Jackson (Credit: Lifetime/Jackson Family)
Janet and Michael Jackson (Credit: Lifetime/Jackson Family)

Finding Her Own Way
After her early music failed to make a mark on the charts, Janet decided to fire Joe as her manager. “I knew that I had to take control of my life,” she said.

She sought out Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, and the super producers helped send her career into the stratosphere with the multi-platinum 1986 album Control and 1989’s Janet Jackson’s Rhythm Nation 1814. But Janet didn’t always agree with Jimmy Jam and Terry. Her partner René frequently carried a camera along and recorded a tense exchange between Janet and the producers while they worked on Rhythm Nation.

“What are you laughing about? Tell me what’s wrong, Jimmy,” Janet said from the recording booth. “You’ve got to tell me something, ’cause it’s like I keep singing this over and over, and you’re not telling me what I need!”

Jimmy Jam eventually told René to stop recording the exchange and Janet snapped, “I’ve been singing it all night, and you keep saying, ‘Uh-uh.’ I’m sick of that!”

Janet Jackson and Justin Timberlake perform at Super Bowl. (Credit: YouTube)
Jackson and Justin Timberlake perform at the Super Bowl in 2004. (Credit: YouTube)

Super Bowl Fallout
On the second night of the documentary, Janet addressed the fallout from her 2004 Super Bowl Halftime performance with Justin Timberlake.

In the “wardrobe malfunction” seen around the world, Justin ripped off part of Janet’s top and exposed her breast on live TV. The brief moment sparked backlash and an investigation by the FCC.

Janet and famed music producer Jermaine Dupri — her boyfriend in 2004 — said instead of elevating her career the Halftime Show torpedoed it. Janet described how public anger affected her friendship with Justin.

“We talked once, and he said, ‘I don’t know if I should come out and make a statement,’” she recalled. “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.”

Janet said she was “disinvited” from the Grammy Awards that year. Dupri served on the board for the Grammys at the time and said he quit over its handling of the matter. “I felt like they were disrespectful to Janet, and I resigned at that point,” he said.

Janet denied the infamous moment was intentional.

“Honestly, this whole thing was blown way out of proportion,” she said. “Of course, it was an accident. That should not have happened, but everyone is looking for someone to blame, and that’s got to stop. Justin and I are very good friends, and we will always be very good friends.”