[artist id="1090"]Janet Jackson[/artist] is known almost as much for her private nature as she is for her signature dance moves and decades of pop hits. But in a rare interview with ABC News that aired on Wednesday night, the day after her Number Ones album came out, the singer sat down with Robin Roberts to discuss her feelings about brother [artist id="1102"]Michael Jackson[/artist]'s death, her breakup with [artist id="450135"]Jermaine Dupri[/artist] and how she's trying to gain more control over her sometimes chaotic life.
"That was a shocker to me," Janet said of when she first learned that her brother had been using the powerful surgical anesthetic propofol — the drug that was found in lethal doses in his system after his death — as a sleep aid. "It just ... that's serious ... that's heavy ... that's heavy."
In one segment, Jackson walked around her palatial Los Angeles home, filled with photos of her famous family, and showed Roberts the last picture she has of Michael, taken two days before her birthday earlier this year. In the photo, a sad-looking MJ is seated on a couch with his two sons. Janet said the thing she misses the most about the sibling she called "Mike" is his "silliness," recalling how as children they spent all their time together playing and laughing.
Janet recounted the morning of Jackson's death on June 25, recalling how her assistant called her to relay the news that Michael had been taken to the hospital and how she didn't go immediately to the airport in New York because the severity of the situation was not apparent. "I tried calling again, and that's how I found out that he was ... no longer," she said, trailing off. "I just couldn't believe it. It didn't ring true to me. It felt like a dream. ... To this day, it's still so difficult for me to believe. You have to accept what is, but it's hard."
Talking for the first time about her warm embrace of Michael's daughter, Paris, when the 11-year-old gave her tearful goodbye to her father at his public memorial, Janet said she just wanted to scoop up and protect her niece at that moment. "All of them, not just her, Blanket, Prince. ... It's just tragic. It's hard for everybody. I think we've been doing well. I have a very strong family."
In one of the lighter segments, Janet recalled sitting in her pajamas as a young girl and watching her brothers on their early 1970s Saturday-morning cartoon before she became a performer. She gave Michael credit for helping her to hone a signature sassy performance style as a young girl when she debuted on their variety show at age 7. She also referred to domineering father Joseph Jackson as "old school" in response to a question about allegations by some of her brothers that he abused them, saying his overbearing manner "may extrapolate into being a little abusive."
Janet, 43, said she didn't celebrate a birthday until she was 23 because of her family's Jehovah's Witness beliefs. She noted that her once-promising acting career, stoked by strong roles on "Good Times" and "Diff'rent Strokes," was derailed because her father insisted she focus on music. She also said that her marriage to singer James DeBarge at age 18 was an attempt to break away from her family. That union ended after just three months due to DeBarge's drug addiction, which was eerily similar to the prescription-medication demons Michael faced, an addiction Janet said she believes her brother was in denial about.
Jackson discussed the many attempts at an intervention with Michael that failed. "That's what you do," she told Roberts in the same interview in which she blamed Jackson's personal physician, Dr. Conrad Murray, for the singer's death. "Those are the things that you do when you love someone. You can't just let them continue on that way. And we did a few times. We weren't very successful."
Jackson said she doesn't think Murray, whom she's never met, should be practicing medicine anymore. "So this could happen to another family?" she said. "No."
For the first time, Jackson confirmed that she is no longer dating longtime beau Jermaine Dupri. She also talked about how the effects of being teased about her weight as a child have caused her to be conscious about her weight for her entire adult life. "There are people that regardless of what it is, if it's something that's stressful, whatever it may be, they don't eat, they lose a lot of weight, a divorce, they get real thin," she said laughing. "I'm the opposite." But she credited JD for making her feel "very comfortable" with her body and making her feel that "I'm fine the way I am. There's nothing wrong with me."