Jennifer Lopez thought NFL using 2 Super Bowl halftime headliners was 'worst idea in the world'
Halftime (2022 movie)
Jennifer Lopez and Shakira made history for Latina representation with their 2020 Super Bowl Halftime show, but Lopez initially resisted the National Football League's decision to hire two headliners for the event.
In a scene from her upcoming Netflix documentary Halftime — which held its world premiere Wednesday at the Tribeca Festival in New York City — the Hustlers star is seen mapping out the show with her music director Kim Burse, with the pair stressing over the limited amount of time Lopez will have to perform.
"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. 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," Lopez tells Burse. "This is the worst idea in the world to have two people do the Super Bowl. It was the worst idea in the world."
In a separate interview for the documentary, Lopez's longtime manager Benny Medina also voices frustrations over the NFL's decision to have two global icons occupy the coveted performance slot.
"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. "It was an insult to say you needed two Latinas to do the job that one artist historically has done."
Earlier in Halftime, Lopez is shown having a preliminary discussion with Shakira regarding the performance and how much time they will each take up during the set.
"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," Shakira tells Lopez, who responds: "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]."
"If it was going to be a double-headliner, they should have given us 20 minutes," Lopez finishes. "That's what they should've f---ing done."
A significant portion of Halftime also charts Lopez's creative process for her portion of the performance, which was held in Miami during the presidency of Donald Trump, whose approach to immigration — particularly people of Latin descent attempting to enter the United States — sparked intense backlash around the world.
Throughout the film, Lopez breaks down her intention to highlight immigration injustices by having her daughter, Emme, begin singing her mother's 2000 single "Let's Get Loud" from inside a cage.
Many interpreted the inclusion of the image as a comment on the U.S. government's treatment of Mexican children at the country's southern border, and Lopez and Medina allege in Halftime that, when the NFL got word of the plan, they attempted to nix the scene just before the Super Bowl.
"We left rehearsal and I noticed everybody was freaking out, but I don't know why," Lopez remembers. "I get a call from Benny 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 they're like, 'Hey, you can't do that."
Medina continues: "The NFL had a real concern about making a political statement about immigration. They looked at the plans, and the message was absolute. They did not want those cages in the show. That had come down from the highest authority."
Lopez says she ultimately felt a responsibility to carry on with the show, which was ultimately hailed as a "frank and necessary political moment for a league that has been criticized for sorely lacking both," EW's Alex Suskind wrote at the time.
"For me, this isn't about politics. This is about human rights. I'm facing the biggest crossroads of my life, to be able to perform on the world's biggest stage, but to take out the cages and sacrifice what I believe in would be like never being there at all," she says. "There was a part of me that just got very zen and I was just like, 'Benny I don't care what you have to do, we're not changing the show. The Super Bowl is tomorrow and we're not changing anything.'"
A representative for the NFL did not respond to EW's request for comment. Halftime premieres on Netflix on June 14.
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Jennifer Lopez offers a behind-the-scenes look at her Super Bowl halftime show performance and her acting career in this intimate documentary.