When Justin Timberlake issued an apology for his Super Bowl performance in the middle of his Grammy acceptance speech Sunday night, he wasn’t just being polite. The mea culpa was a condition of his appearance on the show, CBS said in a statement. That’s the reason Timberlake’s striptease partner, Janet Jackson didn’t appear at the Grammys; offered an opportunity to be a presenter if she’d apologize as well, she declined, the network said.
Jackson had initially been scheduled to present the night’s tribute to the ailing Luther Vandross. After her Super Bowl flashdance embarrassed CBS (and threatened to cost the network millions in fines), Jackson issued two apologies, one on videotape, but her will-she-or-won’t-she dance with the network and the Grammy producers seemed to continue almost until showtime. On Friday, her publicist told EW.com that she would not be attending. Over the weekend, her rep said that CBS and Grammy producers had reversed the disinvitation if she agreed to deliver a third apology on the air, but a Grammy publicist insisted to the Associated Press that she had never been disinvited.
In its statement Sunday, CBS said it had ”serious reservations” about letting either performer appear at the Grammys but ultimately deferred to the Recording Academy. Of the offer to attend if they agreed to an on-air apology, the statement said, ” Ms. Jackson declined the invitation. Mr. Timberlake accepted.” But when Patti Labelle introduced the Vandross segment in Jackson’s place she mentioned that Jackson had also wanted to pay tribute to the soul man. And during her red-carpet appearance prior to the telecast, Labelle revealed that she’d spoken to Jackson on the phone and that Jackson had told her that she hadn’t been invited.
Timberlake, who had already apologized twice last week for what he called a ”wardrobe malfunction,” begged forgiveness a third time when he accepted the trophy for Best Male Pop Vocal Performance for ”Cry Me a River.” ”I know it’s been a rough week on everybody,” he said. ”What occurred was unintentional, completely regrettable, and I apologize if you guys are offended.”
Less contrite was Grammy guest P. Diddy, who had also performed at the notorious halftime show. He told the New York Times, ”I have three sons. I don’t mind. I’m very happy for them that they were able to see one of Janet Jackson’s breasts in their lifetime. I don’t think they’ll be scarred for life.” He added that if he had known in advance of Jackson and Timberlake’s secretly planned striptease act, he ”would have exposed America to something that you still would have been talking about.”