Sunday, May 26, 2024

Janet Jackson Doc Continues Tonight: Shedding Rene, Losing Coke Contract, Kissing Tupac


There are two more hours of the Janet Jackson documentary tonight on A&E.

The first two hours last night were a little more revealing and revelatory. Tonight’s first hour is more like an “E! True Hollywood Story,” which is still fun and worth watching especially since we’re all snowed in.

The most interesting part of tonight’s first episode is video of Janet and brother Michael Jackson writing the song “Scream” together. Unfortunately, A&E gave that clip to “ET” so it’s been available for a few days. But seeing Michael at work and in a normal, human give and take with his sister is refreshing.

There’s also footage of Janet and husband Rene with advertising people and Coca Cola execs at a conference table getting ready to sign a deal for commercials. But Janet says when Michael’s 1993 child molestation accusations came out, the deal was quashed. “Guilt by association,” she says. (Not ‘guilty by association’ which is how the press came out recently. There’s a difference.)

Janet lost the Coke deal, but she persevered. She released her fifth hit album, got a lot of press for her “scandalous” Rolling Stone coverage, and made the movie “Poetic Justice.” There’s footage of Tupac Shakur smiling and laughing on “Arsenio Hall.” talking about kissing Janet. Poor Tupac: a cloud of violence hovers over his memory. But he was very engaging.

By the end of this segment, Janet ditches and divorces Rene. He sued her for $10 million and they settled. But we have Rene to thank for a decade of videography. He was smart enough to chronicle and keep everything. (I’m sure he charged these documentary people an arm and a leg for the rights.) Now Janet is on her own, dating Jermaine Dupri, and about to have her Super Bowl debacle. That’s in the last episode, which we may all have to watch together since the press doesn’t have it yet.

There’s a lot missing from this four hour extravaganza. That’s what happens when the subject has editorial control. But the Janet documentary on A&E is breezy entertainment for a bad weekend. You get the gist of the situation if not the gory details. You could do worse.

Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

Read more

In Other News