According to Janet, "Scream" was a turning point for Michael, who used the video to express frustration over his legal troubles. " 'Scream,' there was so much going on at that time," Jackson recalled. "That's when the — I hate to say this but — the first allegations [of child molestation] came out and the whole bit. He was very upset and very angry and he had so much pent up in him that he wanted to get out and say. And when you listen to the lyrics, that's what it's about."
When Michael asked Janet for her help with the song, there was no way she could say no. "I played the role that I've always played in his life: his little sister that was there by his side, that had his back no matter what," she said. "That's what 'Scream' was for me."
The MTV special followed Janet as she relearned the intricate choreography for the VMA tribute along with her backup dancers, a crew of renowned choreographers including Tyce Diorio, Tina Landon, Jeri Slaughter, Travis Payne, Brian Friedman, Cris Judd, Dave Scott, Mia Michaels, Laurie Ann Gibson and Wade Robson.
Sore muscles aside, the group couldn't have been happier to get the chance to honor the man who inspired their own careers.
"As soon as I got the phone call I was absolutely thrilled and on board 110 percent," Slaughter said. "It's an honor to be in this for Michael."
After costume fittings, a cross-country flight to New York and a final run-through in Radio City Music Hall, Janet and company mounted the stage to a standing ovation, performing alongside images of Michael from the 1995 video.
"I know he was watching," Jackson said. "I know he was looking down. I hope he enjoyed it."
"The Making of Janet Jackson's VMA Tribute Performance" re-airs Sunday at 12:30 a.m. and 5 p.m., and Tuesday at 7 p.m. on MTV.