Don’t expect the NFL to get the Super Bowl XXXVIII band back together — or will they? Last night, the NFL and NBC announced that Justin Timberlake would perform the halftime extravaganza at Super Bowl LII, which will be played here in Minneapolis’ US Bank Stadium in February. Timberlake will make his first appearance in a Super Bowl since he and Janet Jackson teamed up for the infamous “wardrobe malfunction” that cost CBS a small fortune — and pushed the NFL into classic-rock acts for several years:
It’s official: Justin Timberlake will headline the Super Bowl halftime show.
The singer announced in a video with Jimmy Fallon Sunday that he will take the stage Feb. 4 at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
The announcement comes on the day the New England Patriots faces the Atlanta Falcons, a rematch of Super Bowl LI, on Sunday Night Football.
This will be the third time for Timberlake to perform at halftime, the most for any entertainer. Timberlake performed at the 2001 Super Bowl with N’Sync, and he sang “Rock Your Body” with Janet Jackson in 2004 in Houston. That performance concluded with Timberlake ripping her costume to reveal her right breast bare except for a nipple shield.
Timberlake sat down with NFL Channel host Nate Burleson to discuss his plans to use the show to “unify” the nation. The one unification Timberlake apparently doesn’t plan to make is with Jackson. Timberlake dodges the question when Burleson tells Timberlake that he has something to, er …. “get off his chest.”
“I see what you’re doing,” Timberlake says as he slips past the question (2:30 mark):
The incident, referred to often as “Nipplegate,” occured when Timberlake exposed Jackson’s breast, which was adorned with a nipple pastie, during the halftime show of Super Bowl XXXVII. The planned nature of the performance was broadly debated, though Jackson’s team said it was “unintentional.”
Jackson was blacklisted by the NFL, and she and CBS were heavily fined by the FCC (later voided). Timberlake got off pretty unscathed, offering a short apology while accepting a Grammy Award at the very same ceremony Jackson had also been banned from.
Now, with Timberlake set to take the stage at the Super Bowl next year, many commentators have called for a Jackson cameo or a total change in billing.
That certainly does seem unjust … if in fact Jackson was under a lifetime ban. The NFL denies it, however, and suggested that Timberlake would be free to invite her onstage as one of his guests:
People of the world today, worry not: The NFL says Janet Jackson is not banned from the Super Bowl. …
“No ban, no,” NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said. He refused to comment on “any speculation regarding potential guests,” and he said there may be no guests. Jackson’s representatives did not return a request for comment.
Where did the idea of a lifetime ban originate? The only source appears to be an offhand comment made by the league three years ago when TMZ Sports tried to find out who would get the invitation for SB XLIX. “We have only ruled out Janet Jackson,” the league responded, which seems tongue in cheek but apparently got taken seriously. Even at that time, TMZ Sports wondered why Timberlake didn’t get included in the dismissal considering the “key role” he played in exposing Jackson’s breast to the world.
In other words, everyone primed to demand JUSTICE FOR JANET can stand down, at least for a while. Maybe Timberlake will stun everyone with a stage invite for his former co-performer, and give everyone a chance to see unity on stage. (Or, er … something else.) Timberlake has his work cut out for him, though, in topping Lady Gaga’s excellent show in Super Bowl LI, so the temptation to keep people guessing on a JT-JJ reunion will be high indeed.