According to a new report, fans might have seen Janet Jackson portray actress Lena Horne in a biopic series years ago. But the infamous Super Bowl 2004 half-time show shot those chances down.
According to Shadow and Act, prior to the controversial show, Jackson was being eyed to play the iconic actress. “The news for the biopic miniseries was first announced in 2003, and Jackson, who at the time had long wanted to make a Horne biopic, was set to re-record the singer’s hits as opposed to lip-syncing something unheard of at the time,” wrote the site’s editor, Trey Mangum.
A 2003 article from Variety also quotes then-ABC long-form topper Quinn Taylor as calling Jackson the “ideal” choice for the role. “I can’t think of more ideal casting. Janet Jackson and Lena Horne — it’s like peanut butter and jelly.”
At the time, Jackson said she was excited at the idea of playing the role and producing the project. “She is someone I’ve admired my whole life,” Jackson said, adding that she was excited to be “collaborating and producing” the project.
But nipplegate changed all of that. From Shadow and Act:
After the incident and unnecessary backlash against Jackson, she was forced to pull out of the project.
After Horne reportedly “balked at having the younger star play her,” ABC executives are said to have resisted, but Jackson ultimately left the project on her own accord after both Horne, advised by her daughter Gail Lumet Buckley, asked that she not take part, and reportedly even refused to return Horne’s contract unless Jackson was removed.
Now, thanks to Justin Timberlake’s tomfoolery, we may never get the Lena Horne biopic we deserve.