Janet Jackson is a legend, and I’m pretty sure the only way her career could possibly enter exploding gasoline fire territory would be if she suddenly let Marlon Jackson write her songs and Jermaine Jackson style her hair. But according to multiple sources that spoke with the Huffington Post, CBS chairman and CEO Les Moonves was heck-bent (can you say Hell on CBS?) on making sure Janet Jackson never worked again after Justin Timberlake exposed her nipple at the 2004 Super Bowl.
Back in July, Ronan Farrow and The New Yorker published an exposé on Les Moonves, in which several women accused Les of sexual harrassment. This week we learned that CBS might be negotiating Les’ exit to the tune of $100 million. One of the things we’re learning now is that when Les wasn’t allegedly being a – pardon my pun – hands-on boss, he was plotting to destroy Janet.
Super Bowl XXXVIII aired on CBS, and we all know what happened when Justin Timberlake sang the words “Gonna have you naked by the end of this song” while closing out the halftime show. CBS and MTV (who produced the show) were eventually fined $550,000 by the FCC. Justin Timberlake later said that the intention was to rip away part of Janet’s costume and reveal a piece of red lace, but we got tit instead. Sources say the moment and subsequent excuse really bothered Les, and he vowed revenge. Les didn’t believe the reveal was an accident, and he believed Janet and Justin did it intentionally to be controversial. He also refused to believe that Janet was truly sorry for what happened.
Janet and Justin were eventually banned from the 2004 Grammys, which were scheduled to air a week after the Super Bowl, but Justin made a teary apology, and Les accepted it. But Janet’s ban remained because she didn’t shed tears like Justin did. According to sources, Les reportedly ordered VH1, MTV, and all Viacom-owned radio stations to stop playing Janet’s music and music videos. Her album Damita Jo was released just a month after the Super Bowl, so of course a wide blacklist would hurt.
Sources also say that Les played a part in constructing the narrative that Janet was totally at fault. In 2011, Janet released the self-help book True You through Simon & Schuster. CBS had ownership of Simon & Schuster, and Les allegedly lost it when he found out they were publishing her book.
The more I hear about Les Moonves, the more I’m starting to think he’s actually a robot that was cast in a CEO villain factory. That might explain the obvious continuity error that his processing unit missed. Or maybe he’s okay with titties getting flashed, just so long as his wife is hosting the show that they’re getting flashed on.