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Sun Herald

Crazy Days Are Over

By Sal Morgan

23 January 2005
Copyright © 2005 John Fairfax Holdings Limited. All rights reserved.

ARRIVING at Sony Studios in New York I'm prepared for some seriously demanding diva behaviour. After all, I am about to interview Jennifer Lopez.

Surprisingly, there's no entourage of beefy bodyguards, no stylists or assistants. There's no make-up artist, coat carriers or bedsheet thread counter (250 threads minimum, say the gossips, or she's out of there!). As for the all-white room with white lilies, white candles and white leather lounges, I couldn't find it anywhere.

What's more, Lopez is running on time (practically unheard of in the world of superstardom) and is, I'm assured, "in good spirits".

Curled up in an armchair and wearing a cap, Lopez certainly looks low-key, in fact I practically walk straight past her. "Hi, I'm Jennifer," she smiles. The singer/actor looks cool and comfortable in fitted jeans, khaki army-style shirt, grey hooded jumper and boots. Wearing barely any make-up, her skin is flawless, with her trademark sun-kissed J.Lo glow in place (even though it's four degrees outside).

So, how to address this supposed egomaniac? Is she "Jenny from the Block", "J.Lo" or just plain "Jen"?

"Call me whatever!" laughs Lopez. "J.Lo was just a bit of fun that got really crazy. I've never really been anyone but Jennifer."

As for some of those rumoured diva demands? "They're for crazy people to believe," she says. "I've been asked all this stuff from using a $700 tub of La Mer face cream a day to my pre-nup 10 commandments. I can't believe that people read that stuff and they think it's true. It's crazy."

Crazy it certainly is, but it's not that hard to believe. It was not quite a year ago that Lopez officially announced, after two near-miss weddings, that "Bennifer", her hugely publicised relationship with Ben Affleck, was over.

"It was out of control," she says. "I was at fever pitch pace. It was unnatural, what I was doing. I had so much shit happening, I had to stop. I had to take time out and reassess."

And so she did. For five months Lopez spent time at home in Miami "doing absolutely nothing".

"It was a real soul-searching moment in my life. Not only did it calm me down, it stilled me a little bit," she says. "It was kinda like a breakdown that had to happen."

It was at that time that Lopez rekindled her romance with Marc Anthony, whom she first met and dated briefly in 1998 when they sang a duet on her first album.

It's not hard to imagine why Lopez gravitated back to familiar territory so soon after her relationship with Affleck imploded. Born just two months apart in 1969, Lopez and Anthony are from similar backgrounds. Both of their families emigrated from Puerto Rico where they grew up with the sounds of salsa music and aspirations to be artists. Anthony is also producing Lopez's first Spanish language album, as well as two of the songs that appear on her new album Rebirth, including This Is Me.

"It's like a big movie song," says Lopez of the track, which was written about her new husband. "It's about relationships and makes perfect sense about where I am right now. It really captures the heart."

So is that what happened to Lopez, did Anthony capture her heart?

"You know that was one of the problems, I used to talk about personal things when I didn't need to," she says. "Suddenly all the focus was taken off me as an artist and put into my life, which was made out to be a soap opera."

Lopez has sworn to never talk about her personal life again unless it's through her music.

"It just wasn't enjoyable anymore so I had to stop and take responsibility for my mistakes," she says. "I asked 'How can I change my life to make it what it was? How can I make it better now?'."

Lopez admits to taking on too much but says she's certainly slowed down and that it shows on Rebirth. "I feel like this is the most important album of my career," she says. "It's a fresh start. A new beginning. A new me.

"At first I was like, 'I want to do a little more funk, be a little bit more soulful'. But then I just found I responded to certain songs they stood out and I just knew instantly which ones I wanted to record and who should be involved."

The songs tell of heartbreak and romance and staying real to yourself. They are, says Lopez, about "your own personal experience and what you've been through".

"The more stuff I go through the better," she says. "I'm able to understand and express myself. I always heard different actresses and artists say that but now I realise how true it is."

It seems there's no stopping Jennifer Inc. "There's no reason to stop right now," she says with a smile. In fact, away from her musical endeavours, she's hoping for a movie hit in the near future.

"It's not easy to make good movies," she says, possibly thinking of the best-forgotten Gigli and Jersey Girl.

"But I'm not about whether things do well. That's not the satisfying part of it."

Her next release is a romantic comedy Monster-In-Law, co-starring Jane Fonda and directed by Australian Robert "Legally Blonde" Luketic.

"I can't help myself, I just love romance and fairytales," says Lopez. "I still believe and want to see a happy ending."

Rebirth will be released on February 28.

Spiritual rebirth of a pop diva

JENNIFER Lopez may have a new vow not to talk to the press about her private life and marriage to Marc Anthony, but one of the songwriters behind her next album is happy to chat.

Rodney Jerkins, a hit writer for Britney Spears, the Backstreet Boys, Mary J. Blige and Michael Jackson, has written and produced two tracks on Lopez's new album Rebirth.

His inspiration for the track I've Got You was, he says, Lopez and Anthony's relationship. "From what I looked at on TV, from newspapers and everything, I just took that and created a song about it," he says. "It's basically saying, 'No matter what people say about relationships, about us, no matter what their view is, you got me and I got you. That's the bottom line'."

Lopez herself has sworn not to talk about her relationship unless it is through her music but says this song really sums up her feelings. "It's where I am right now," she says. "It's got a bit of a sexy vibe to it," laughs Jerkins.

His other collaboration with Lopez is Step Into My World, a more dance-sounding track that the writer says speaks for itself.

"It's basically just exploring J.Lo's world and what her world is all about," says Jerkins, who produced Lopez's breakthrough single, If You Had My Love. "The more I hear it the more it grows on me," says Lopez. "Every time I hear the song it takes on a new dimension."


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