Janet Jackson did not have a secret child with husband James DeBarge 18 years ago, nor did she give that daughter to her sister Rebbie to raise as her own.
Janet's longtime producer Jimmy "Jam" Harris says it's not true, and that they've all had a laugh about it in the studio while working on Jackson's new album.
"Do the math," he says. "If Janet had a child 18 years ago, it was while we were working on the "Control" album. I would have known if she was pregnant, and she wasn't."
In fact, Harris is right. "Control" was released in March 1986. It produced a bunch of hit singles and videos for "What Have You Done for Me Lately?" and "Nasty Boys." Jackson was on TV and on promo tours almost constantly by that point.
Isn't it nice to have a rumor debunked by actual facts?
Harris and partner Terry Lewis are currently producing Janet's new album, set for early 2006. It's been almost two years since Janet and Justin Timberlake experienced a "wardrobe malfunction" during the Super Bowl half-time show. The result was an overreaction felt 'round the world and still reverberating. It was as if Queen Victoria herself had been in the stands.
Everyone was punished, most especially Janet, whose album "Damita Jo" collapsed under the weight of the scandal and her brother's infamous trials and tribulations.
But now, lo and behold, here comes a new Janet for the spring of 2006. I can tell you exclusively that she's agreed to take an acting role in a new movie called "Tennessee" starring Macaulay Culkin and produced by Lee Daniels ("Monster's Ball"). The movie may tie in with the new album, which Janet is currently recording with Harris and Lewis at their new studio in Los Angeles.
For the new album and the movie, Janet is doing something unusual: She's learning to play the guitar.
Producer Harris, one of the last great R&B producers, tells me that Jackson is a "natural, it's in her genes," and that she picked up the instrument instantly.
The movie is a road picture about two brothers, so don't expect Janet to be the star. But fans of hers from "Fame" and "Good Times" will recall that she had a winning screen presence.
And don't believe the rumors that circulated a couple of weeks ago about Janet bailing out boyfriend Jermaine Dupri. He's one of the two or three most successful music producers in the world, so unless he's spent all of his money on very expensive hidden vices, Dupri should have plenty of dough.
Janet's got bigger financial problems to worry about, like supporting her mother and several siblings as brother Michael drops the ball. More on that to come...
You remember Al Gore, I'm sure. He ran for president in 2000. Some say he won.
Ah, well, long before that, he and Oscar-winning actor Tommy Lee Jones ("The Fugitive") were suitemates at Harvard. Last night, Gore hosted a screening of Jones' new movie, "The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada," which Jones directed and stars in.
That's a mouthful, so I'm hopeful that Sony Pictures Classics will advertise it as just "Three Burials." That's how everyone who saw it last night came out referring to it.
Guillermo Arriaga, a longtime friend of Jones, and the writer of such terrific films as "21 Grams" and "Amores Perros," authored the original screenplay. Barry Pepper, whom you will recall from "Saving Private Ryan" and from playing Roger Maris in Billy Crystal's Yankees movie, "61*," is the lead actor.
This is Jones' directorial debut. If SPC plays its cards right, all three could be dark horse entries in the Oscar race. Their work is that good.
The story: It's a Western, but Jones and Pepper do not fall in love and have sex ("Tanks gud!" as a French friend mine used to say). In the story, Melquiades (Julio Cedillo) is accidentally killed, and his best friend Pete (Jones) resolves to bring him home from the Texas border to Mexico and bury him properly.
I don't want to give away Pepper's role, but suffice to say his character suffers various physical and mental tortures along the way. And the movie is full of humor, too.
At the premiere, Jones was a little grim-faced and not exactly up for doing publicity (hey, Tommy Lee, what did you think the premiere was for?) A reporter asked him if he could tell her any great stories about carousing in Mexican towns.
He said, "No." Stop.
I asked him what it was that he and Gore and their buddies did in that Harvard suite for fun? Drink? Carouse? Run around?
"We read the Bible," he said.
Luckily, there were plenty of other guests to keep us occupied, including Marcia Gay Harden and her husband Thaddeus Scheel, Edie Falco and Joey Pants aka Joe Pantoliano. Tipper Gore was there with Al, and daughter Karenna Gore Schiff with husband Drew Schiff.