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Rob, Fab Get Their Lives in Sync : Ex-Milli Vanilli 'Singers' Emerge After Months of Depression

August 12, 1991|CHUCK PHILIPS | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

While they have turned down job offers to appear on soap operas in Europe, Pilatus and Morvan have begun to study acting.

"I see this as a story of seduction," said Alliance's Michael Weisberg, an Emmy-winning producer who worked on the "Lonesome Dove" miniseries. "Two kids get seduced into a charade by the glamour and glitz of show biz when all of a sudden the train starts going faster than anyone expected and they don't know how to get off."

Last month, Morvan and Pilatus were also featured as animated characters in a bizarre episode of "The Super Mario Brothers" cartoon show in which an evil reptile sorceress punishes the flamboyant duo by turning them into a pair of yuppie accountants.

The venture into animation was the brainchild of their former manager Sandy Gallin and was created by DIC Enterprises before the lip-sync debacle. The series is in reruns on NBC at 7:30 a.m. Saturdays; the Milli Vanilli episode first aired in January and has been repeated several times in the last few months.

Several other scripts about the lip-sync scandal are also circulating around Hollywood, including one written by Todd Headlee, a member of the duo's former management team.

But Carsten Heyn, the duo's manager says Pilatus and Morvan are concentrating most of their energies on completing their yet-untitled album. Shrouded in secrecy, the recording project--financed to the tune of half a million dollars by an independent record label based in the Southwest--will be distributed by one of the nation's largest record distributors.

"Frankly, I started out pursuing these guys with the idea of capitalizing on the lip-sync scandal," said the president of the label, who requested anonymity. "When I heard them sing, I was truly surprised."

But by far, Pilatus and Morvan are getting the most exposure these days from their bubble-gum commercial. Officials at Planters LifeSavers Co., which makes Carefree, say the company viewed their Milli parody as a way to interest teens in their product.

"So many kids still identify with Rob and Fab," Planters spokesman Chuck Wallingston said in a phone interview from Planters headquarters in Winston-Salem, N.C. "We thought teens would approve of their ability to laugh at their own mistake in public. And frankly, the response has been overwhelmingly positive."

And so the comeback is underway. The duo starts each day running through singing exercises with vocal coach Seth Riggs, trainer for such pop stars as Michael Jackson and Stevie Wonder.

"This is a crucial period for us," Morvan said. "We are preparing to show our fans what we are truly made of."

Pilatus said he hopes that the duo will get a second shot so that they can prove their critics wrong.

"A lot of people think of us as losers," he said. "But we have always seen ourselves as winners. Not just marionettes. Real entertainers.

"Twenty years from now we want people to come out and see us sing and dance in Las Vegas. Like Sammy Davis Jr. Like Julio Iglesias. Like Tom Jones. I believe there is a big future for us. You haven't heard the last of Rob and Fab."

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