The Super Bowl means just as much to the entertainment world as it does to those who follow sports.
As the big game approaches, one of the top questions along with "Who's going to win?" is "What will Janet Jackson be doing at the halftime show?" But Janet isn't the only celebrity cutie who'll be catching eyes during the MTV-produced AOL Top Speed Super Bowl XXXVIII halftime performance Sunday. Jessica Simpson has just been added to the festivities.
MTV's 12-minute program will commence with a short film, and then one half of the world's most popular newlyweds will call for the party to start. From there the Houston native will hand it over to fellow hometown favorites Texas Southern University and the University of Houston. The TSU Ocean of Soul marching band and the UH Spirit of Houston Cougar marching band will unite as one, coming with their instruments blaring and feet stomping, leading the way for Ms. Jackson.
Although the bands have different styles — with TSU moving with a pump-and-drive, high-knee marching style and U of H using the more traditional heel-to-toe method — they've been able to meet in the middle.
"It's working out fine," affirmed TSU Band Director Richard F. Lee. "We have two different styles but we move the same distance at the same time; eight steps every five yards." Lee and UH band director David Bertman will share the reins on Sunday.
After seeing videotapes of the bands, Jackson was eager to work with both squads so she could bring something new to the table for her halftime performance.
"Me and Janet thought it would be great to change one of our numbers and introduce a drum line into our routine," Jackson's choreographer, Gil Duldulao, said Tuesday. "This is different because I know a lot of band members aren't dancers. So I'm happy to have the time beforehand to teach and sort of lead them in the direction that I feel is perfect for what we're doing onstage."
Janet will be backed by 26 dancers, 360 regular band members and a 60-person drum line. Each school has an equal amount of people playing.
"I don't think the Super Bowl has ever seen a performance like this," Duldulao added. "The dancing is great. She's more stylized, she's more feminine, she's more a woman as she dances this time around. There are some shocking moments in there too. (Editor's note: At the time of this report, MTV thought that the 'shock' was going to be the as-yet-unannounced appearance of Justin Timberlake as part of Janet's performance. Janet Jackson's subsequent performance was not what had been rehearsed, discussed or agreed to with MTV. To read Janet Jackson's statement and apology, see "Janet Apologizes, Says Super Bowl Stunt Went Too Far." For MTV's statement. see "Janet, Justin, MTV Apologize For Super Bowl Flash.") It's a lot of pressure, there's so many creative people and creative artists, you want to make sure everything is different, and I think she's going to do that. She's doing her job well."
"I don't think the Super Bowl has ever seen a performance like this," Duldulao added. "The dancing is great. She's more stylized, she's more feminine, she's more a woman as she dances this time around. There are some shocking moments in there too. It's a lot of pressure, there's so many creative people and creative artists, you want to make sure everything is different, and I think she's going to do that. She's doing her job well."
In addition to Jackson and Simpson, P. Diddy, Nelly and Kid Rock will also perform at halftime.
Hangin' in H-Town: News and notes from the Super Bowl:
- Nelly is one of the flyest rappers in the game, but he doesn't like to fly. His tour bus pulled into Houston on Tuesday, completing the journey all the way from Los Angeles. Don't expect P. Diddy to travel like his Midwestern friend. Diddy, who's known for his affinity for jets, is scheduled to arrive in Houston Wednesday to rehearse with his "Shake Ya Tailfeather" co-star. The pair have a few tricks up their sleeves for the halftime bonanza, one of which is a remix like you've never heard before.
- Kid Rock isn't kidding around when it comes to his workload. Even though the boisterous bad boy has been on tour, Kid has still been making time to practice for Sunday's big show. The hip-rocker has a concert Wednesday night (January 28), but he'll shake off any fatigue and hit Houston on Thursday for his next round of rehearsals.
- There's going to be some serious partying going on in Houston this week. P. Diddy, Beyoncé, R. Kelly, Cam'ron, Snoop Dogg, Dame Dash and the Roc-A-Fella family, Russell Simmons, EA Sports, Magic Johnson, Lil' Flip and Janet Jackson are just a few of the names throwing fiestas this week.
Super Bowl XXXVIII will air live from Houston's Reliant Stadium on Sunday. Coverage begins at 9 a.m. ET with the special "MTV's TRL at the Super Bowl."