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In the Know / A LOOK AT THE WEEK AHEAD

Do We Need Another Cute Teen Singer?

September 25, 2000

The Backstreet Boys can don ties when need be, but do they have tails? Specifically, coattails--and are they long enough to drag the baby bro' of Backstreet Boy Nick Carter up the charts with them? Twelve-year-old Aaron Carter's new album, "Aaron's Party (Come Get It)," hits stores Tuesday, and folks at Jive Records, the red-hot label responsible for monster records from teen-pop acts including the Backstreeters, 'N Sync and Britney Spears, expect the younger Carter to ignite preteens the way his brother's band has set fire to their older siblings. But just how many cute young pop stars does the world have room for? "There's definitely a point of critical mass with this kind of act," says KIIS-FM (102.7) program director Michael Steele. "I don't know if we've reached it, but there was a time over the last couple of years when an image could sell records. The thing we keep reminding ourselves is that it doesn't matter what the image is as long as the songs are hits." And what of Carter's single, the album's title track? "We're not playing it," Steele reports, "and I've got to be honest . . . I don't have any plans to. It's OK, but I think the video is much stronger than the song. Obviously the only reason it's being looked at twice is because he's Nick Carter's brother." To Jive director of marketing Kim Kaiman, however, "As far as the Backstreet Boys connection, it's only a wonderful thing. It gives [Aaron] credibility and gives him a pedigree that is very rare." Kaiman also says skeptics will be surprised at how Carter's album will sell. "I think some people are underestimating his fan base. . . . We've been at No. 4 in [Billboard's pop singles] sales chart for four weeks. The single is selling 40,000 units a week, and we're selling 50,000 a week of his video. That tells us Aaron Carter is absolutely a star and that fans are champing at the bit for more."

Celebrities Given an Electronic Soap Box

We're all familiar with Warren Beatty's presidential aspirations, Martin Sheen's support for the downtrodden, Sting's passion for the rain forest and Ed Begley Jr.'s love of electric cars. But now other, perhaps less vocal celebrities will get a chance to trumpet their pet causes on "Star Convictions," a new weekly segment premiering at 6 p.m. today on Court TV's Nancy Grace-hosted legal show, "Pros & Cons." Up first is "Politically Incorrect" host Bill Maher, who discusses his belief that the criminalization of drugs actually harms society and why he thinks drugs should be legalized. "This is provocative stuff, and I hope it does provoke a debate," said commentator Martin Lewis, who hosts the seven- to eight-minute weekly segments. "Society is already obsessed with celebrities, so let's let them talk about something serious for a change." One of his goals, Lewis notes, is to combat the notion that celebrities just lend their names to causes for publicity. "Once you give them the platform [to speak about their issue], they're really going to have to step up to the mark. If they've just hitched on to the cause, then there's no way they can sustain six or seven minutes of talking about it, and we'll soon see through them. If they're grandstanding, we'll find out." Other guests lined up for coming weeks, Lewis says, include director Rob Reiner, who seeks more legislation protecting children; actress Ali McGraw, who supports animal protection; actress Martha Plimpton, who speaks in favor of abortion rights; and singer Pat Boone, who advocates school prayer, less separation of church and state and a display of the Ten Commandments in schools. Court TV, meanwhile, will encourage viewer feedback to the segments with a bulletin board-type area on its Web site, http://www.courttv.com.

New Rockumentaries Mark the Times

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