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Four days before she announced her retirement, Janet Jackson brought the Super Bowl halftime show to chaos with the infamous “wardrobe malfunction” that flashed a portion of her breast, temporarily bowing out of the musical spotlight. The commercial that sparked the furor earned her a $550,000 dollar payout from CBS, the network that aired the game, and helped set off a three-year impasse between the network and Jackson’s lawyers.
Now, NBC looks to be firing back with “Janet Jackson’s Journey From Neverland,” a one-hour documentary premiering at 1 p.m. on Sunday, NBC announced Monday. The film will feature unseen footage and interviews with Jackson’s family, as well as footage and behind-the-scenes features from “Slave to the Rhythm,” the documentary Jackson made in the aftermath of the incident.
A CBS spokesperson on Monday called the film a work of “fiction” that is full of “double- and third-hand accounts of events that took place in 2004.”
“We now have every indication that [NBC’s] planned film is an infringement of the rights of CBS Corporation and Janet Jackson,” the spokesperson told The Washington Post. “Not only does the film attempt to tell a complete story that is not true, but it is based on a series of falsehoods and defamatory allegations that include stealing ideas, misusing costumes, and making the film in violation of various licensing agreements.”
NBC said in a statement that “’Janet Jackson’s Journey From Neverland’ is not a documentary. It is a fiction film written and directed by a former employee of Ms. Jackson.”
“We sent them an advance copy of the film last week and asked them to allow us time to review it, and to provide us access to producers and subject matter experts to assess whether it met the standards of good journalism and fairness expected of NBC News,” the network said. “We respectfully asked that they delay airing it until such time as we were allowed access.”
NBC declined to offer an hour-by-hour rundown of the events surrounding the controversy.
“Ever since I pulled the ‘wardrobe’ on ‘Saturday Night Live’ in 2004, no one has paid me the respect and the respect that I deserve,” Jackson said in an NBC statement when the film was announced last week. “It’s time for this story to be told.”
Besides her daughters and ex-husband, Justin Timberlake, Jackson’s band, The Rhythm Nation, will be included in the film’s featurettes, along with others who were involved in making the concert film.
In the film, Jackson’s brothers, Randy and Jermaine, also discuss what went wrong and what happened next: payouts from CBS, a fee to the creative director, and “I was told to please hurry up and get back to Paris,” Janet Jackson said in a phone interview with “60 Minutes”. “I didn’t want to let them down.”
“Everybody who was there knows that there was a lot of frustration,” Randy Jackson said, according to the “60 Minutes” interview. “There was this one moment of play and this moment of wardrobe malfunction and it just turned the entire world against us.”
(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)