NEW YORK – In February 2020, Jennifer Lopez and Shakira stunned with a marathon show at the Super Bowl halftime, throwing a flawless politics wedding.
But in the new “Halftime” documentary that opens Wednesday for the annual Tribeca Festival, Lopez reveals that there hasn’t been a smooth sailing in the months and weeks leading up to the show.
In candid interviews and live footage captured by director Amanda Mitchell in the summer of 2019, Lopez is trying to remain silent about speculation that she is the “favorite candidate” to headline the halftime show. So when the announcement comes in September that Shakira will be joining her, Lopez’s team calls her a slight against the two women, suggesting that the NFL doesn’t believe Latinas can top the singles biggest stage in the world.
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To be clear, Lopez doesn’t blame Shakira, and both artists are shown collaborating and supporting each other during the documentary. But Lopez isn’t holding back from the NFL.
“If it was a double title, they should have given us 20 (expletive) minutes,” she told Shakira over the phone, after agreeing to split their performance time of 12 minutes evenly.
Later in the film, Lopez attempts to hash her Super Bowl roster with her music director, expressing frustration at the lack of songs she can realistically do in the six minutes allotted to her.
“It’s the worst idea in the world for two people to do the Super Bowl,” Lopez says.
At the beginning of the documentary, the singer begins an emotional discussion with former President Donald Trump and his anti-immigration policies, explaining how his stern rhetoric inspired her to make a statement through her performance at the Super Bowl.
During the halftime show, more than a dozen kids appeared on the soccer field in lighted cages, then sang Lopez’s “Let’s Get Loud” and Bruce Springsteen’s “Born in the USA.” Lopez joined them moments later, draped in a feathered Puerto Rican flag.
Senior NFL officials worried that Cages would be “too political,” and also encouraged them to lose the giant Venus symbol to a “woman” on stage, saying he was too heavy-handed. But Lopez has stuck to her position on both issues, despite pressure from the NFL to make changes just hours before the show is due.
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In addition to the Super Bowl, “Halftime” offers a frustrating look at Lopez’s failed attempt at her first Academy Award nomination, after receiving career best reviews for her megawatt performance in the 2019 stripper drama “Hustlers.”
The film ends with her performance at President Joe Biden’s inauguration in January 2021, which means it doesn’t touch her split from Alex Rodriguez or her reunion with Ben Affleck last year. (Although Affleck appears in a brief interview with a recent president about how Lopez has been mocking tabloids and negative journalism.)
“We didn’t have any ground rules about what was taboo,” Micheli told USA TODAY on the red carpet before the premiere on Wednesday. “She’s been very open to having these intense conversations with me and hasn’t adjusted herself at all. For me personally, I wasn’t interested in doing a show about Jennifer’s relationships, but it was important that we at least touch on that. I think we found the right balance.”
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“Halftime” was shown at the historic United Palace Theater in Washington Heights in Manhattan, near where Lopez grew up in the Bronx. It was a busy affair compared to last year’s curtailed Tribeca festival, which was held primarily outdoors due to COVID-19 caution.
“It’s fantastic,” said Tribeca co-founder Robert De Niro of the festival’s return in earnest. “I think everyone just wants to get out[of the house].”
The Tribeca Festival runs until June 19 with virtual and in-person events. Meanwhile, “Halftime” is streaming on Netflix on June 14.