5 Things We Learned From Jennifer Lopez’s ‘Halftime’ Documentary – Billboard

Jennifer Lopez‘s Netflix documentary Halftime premiered at the Tribeca Festival on Wednesday. The film, which arrives on the streaming platform June 14, gives viewers an inside look at the singer preparing for the 2020 Super Bowl halftime show, for which she shared the stage with Shakira, but also touches on personal tidbits in Lopez’s life that fans would otherwise not see.



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Here are five takeaways from Halftime ahead of its arrival on Netflix.

Lopez Was Frustrated With the NFL Over Time Constraints for Her & Shakira’s Performance

While Lopez was honored to be asked to perform at the Super Bowl, the NFL wanted to bring in Shakira for her performance — a move that led to the singer suggesting that she and Shakira split their time evenly during the set at six minutes each. Lopez’s manager, Benny Medina, thought it was insulting to suggest Lopez couldn’t carry the stage by herself.

“Typically, you have one headliner at a Super Bowl. That headliner constructs a show, and, should they choose to have other guests, that’s their choice,” Medina says in the film. “It was an insult to say you needed two Latinas to do the job that one artist historically has done.”

Lopez hopped on the phone with Shakira, who said, “I know that the Super Bowl people want us to be weaved throughout the show. I haven’t had a confirmation about how many minutes I’m going to have.” Lopez replied, “Let me address that really quick. They said 12 minutes. I got kind of a good confirmation that we could have an extra minute or two, so now we’re at, like, 13, 14 minutes. I think, Shakira, what we should have is you should have half the time and I should [have half].”

Despite the thoughtful compromise, Lopez was not happy with having to cut her time short. “If it was going to be a double headliner, they should have given us 20 minutes,” she said on the phone with Shakira. “That’s what they should’ve f—ing done.”

Later in the documentary, Lopez was stressing over mixing several of her hits into just six minutes and told her music director, Kim Burse, “We have six f—ing minutes. We have 30 seconds of a song, and if we take a minute, that’s it, we’ve got five left,” she tells Burse. “But there’s got to be certain songs that we sing, though. We have to have our singing moments. It’s not going to be a dance f—ing revue. We have to sing our message. … This is the worst idea in the world to have two people do the Super Bowl. It was the worst idea in the world.”

A Visit to a Dance Studio Helped Inspired the Political Undertones of the Halftime Performance

While working on the concept for the show, Lopez wanted to address immigration and frequently talked about how hurt she felt knowing Latino people, especially little girls, were being separated from their families at the border. Lopez later realized that she wanted to have girls in her show to make a powerful point about embracing Latina heritage following a brief visit to Miami dance studio Dancetown.

“When I’m putting a show together, it’s on my mind 24 hours a day and inspiration comes from anywhere,” Lopez said in an aside, before meeting dancers from the Dancetown studio and giving them an encouraging pep talk.

The visit stuck with Lopez — the documentary later cuts to footage of her telling her choreographer how the visit to the dance studio inspired a major concept in her performance.

“This girl from the Bronx, this girl that’s a Latina landed on this stage somehow and is here to represent our culture, our music and women everywhere,” she said. “I’m thinking a great moment would be to have these fantastic little girl dancers I just met along with hundreds of other girls in light cages. A choir of little girls singing. We want a feeling of Latinos in cages…and you can’t keep us there. We won’t have that. The concept is, this next generation is not going to be suppressed in the way that we were.”

Bruce Springsteen Almost Made a Cameo During Lopez’s Super Bowl Performance

Lopez was seriously considering having The Boss make a cameo during her portion of her Super Bowl performance, but had a change of heart when thinking about the greater political context of her performance.

“I started thinking my daughter could sing ‘Born in the USA’ in the finale,” Lopez says at one point in the film. “I’ve been trying to get Bruce Springsteen to do a cameo, but then I thought that it’s so much more powerful if Emme sings ‘Born in the USA’ as a little young Latina girl.”

The NFL Insisted Lopez’s Concept Was Too Controversial & Wanted Her to Change It 24 Hours Before Showtime

Just one day before showtime, Lopez remembered getting a negative vibe from the higher ups at the NFL after committee members saw a run-through of her performance. The feedback was that they believed the concept of her performance was too political, and they urged her to remove the light cages from her show. (The light cages — which looked more like spheres on show day — remained in the final version of Lopez’s performance.)

Lopez recalled, “I get a call from Ben and he’s like ‘They want to pull the cages.’ That night, the higher ups at the NFL saw it for the first time and were like, ‘Hey! You can’t do that!’”

Later, Lopez’s manager detailed the NFL’s reservations with her performance in further detail, saying, “The NFL had a real concern about making a political statement about immigration. They looked at the plans, and the message is absolute. They did not want those cages in the show…coming down from the highest level.”

But Lopez put her foot down about the cages. “For me, this isn’t about politics; this is about human rights. I’m facing the biggest crossroads of my life — being able to perform on the biggest stage of my life, but to take out the cages and sacrifice everything I believe in would be like never being here at all,” she said in the documentary, later adding, “At this point, I was very upset and I was like, ‘Benny, I don’t care what we have to do, but I’m not changing the show. The Super Bowl is tomorrow and we’re not changing anything.’”

Billboard has reached out to the NFL for response to Lopez’s claims in the film.

‘American Idol’ Helped Lopez Find Her Purpose Again

Lopez was notably married to singer Marc Anthony for 10 years and divorced in 2014. While Lopez remained collected in the public eye, the divorce left her feeling uncertain about her talents and purpose as an entertainer. Being a judge on American Idol (she appeared on seasons 10, 11 and 13-15) was instrumental in helping Lopez reignite her passion as an entertainer.

“As an artist, I kind of lost a little bit of who I was in trying to build a perfect family life. And when my kids were 3, I got divorced, I was a single mom with two little kids. At 42, movie roles were not knocking at my door and as I was getting back to work, I felt like I didn’t know what my value was anymore,” Lopez said in a sullen portion of the documentary. “I was doing American Idol — that was my first big job after I had babies and it was good for me at the time. People could see me for who I was, and that changed everything. I really learned a lot about myself. I had purpose, and I just felt I had to work on my acting more, my singing more, my dancing more…everything. I just need to be better in every way.”

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