It's been a decade since Janet Jackson and Justin Timberlake put on the most controversial halftime show in Super Bowl history. Timberlake concluded the show by exposing Jackson's breast to the shock of the world. In ESPN The Magazine's 'Music Issue', Marin Cogan speaks with several figures who played key roles in the controversy, including ex-FCC chairman Michael Powell.
"I think we've been removed from this long enough for me to tell you that I had to put my best version of outrage on that I could put on," Powell says in the exposé In the Beginning, there was a Nipple which hits newsstands Friday. "Part of it was surreal, right? Look, I think it was dumb to happen, and they knew the rules and were flirting with them, and my job is to enforce the rules, but, you know, really? This is what we're gonna do?"
Powell and the FCC fined CBS $550,000 for the incident, the largest sum in history at the time. MTV executive producer Salli Frattini, who oversaw the halftime show, wasn't immediately aware of what had occurred.
"We were like, 'Uh, we're playing that back right now,'" Frattini says. "There was lots of chaos in the truck, and we played it back and we were like, 'Oh, [expletive]. What just happened?' "
Another show producer, Alex Coletti, thinks it was a setup.
"Her entire camp stopped answering the phones. I finally got to her tour manager, and they were already at the airport." Coletti says. "No, she set us up and she's out of here. That was the last time I've seen or heard from Janet Jackson."
You can read the full story in the 'Music Issue' which features three different covers with athletes and artists including Kobe Bryant, Nicki Minaj, Chris Paul, Kendrick Lamar, Calvin Johnson, and Eminem.