The closer we get to the wide release of Lance and Joey’s acting debut, On the Line, the more nervous I get. An *NSYNC fan’s road is a long one, fraught with peril. One must budget carefully for the purchase of cheesy merchandise, practice saying “I think, if you listened to it, you would find that the music is really good!” with a straight face, and perhaps most importantly, one is required to pick a favorite boy and stick with him through thick and thin. Regardless of the stupid (endearing!) things he might say or do in public.
I’ve found it fairly easy to stick with Lance, lo these past twelve months. While I have been tempted, briefly, by WrithingIcon!Justin and DivaHips!JC, I’ve always come back to BGL. But I think that’s because he’s been hiding behind the others for so long that, when I find myself defending Lance, I usually find myself defending some nebulous idea of him. Once On the Line is released, I will find myself sticking up for him in the light of a whole new set of offenses. He’s going to try to act. He’s going to kiss a girl. I might be more scared than I thought.
With the impending release comes a wave of On the Line-related articles and television appearances. While some of us will be put out of our misery sooner than others (Amy and Melynee scored tickets to the NYC premiere, while Michelle and I are stuck on the other stupid coast), perhaps this is my final test. If I can make it through the barrage of On the Line press, maybe then I’ll have proved that I can stand by my boy. Then again, I might not make it another two weeks, when I’m constantly being confronted with things like this…
I think everyone had the same reaction when we learned Lance and Joey would be featured in an Independent Film Channel documentary about musicians crossing over into acting: SQUEEE! Okay. Maybe not everyone. Some people probably thought, “What the FUCK?” and cancelled their digital cable, their faith in independent filmmaking destroyed forever. But I chose to see it as a validation that, even if they weren’t the two best actors in the world, they were damn hard workers, and would probably say some really adorable and/or dorky things, to boot.
Crossover debuted on IFC on September 24. In addition to Lance (Joey is only around for a little bit, sadly), the film features Courtney Love, Ice T, John Doe, Jewel, Meatloaf and others. My husband and roommate have decided that it’s a shoddy documentary with poor camera work. I have two camps of thought about it, the Lance Camp and the Other Camp.
In the Other Camp, I actually think Crossover provided some interesting commentary on why musicians have started swarming toward the big screen. More than one musician talked about how, these days, radio listeners are so fickle that it’s cutting careers short. If a musician wants to be in the public eye longer than the time it takes their hit song to fizzle, they have to find something else. Film is a natural extension of their desire to perform. Courtney Love, although she looked sort of strung-out curled up on her couch with grimy hair and smoking a cigarette, actually spoke intelligently about the historic progression of musicians breaking in to film, citing Frank Sinatra as her idol in making the transition work. And others, like Ice T and Meatloaf, talked about how acting provided a much-needed break in the creative process of recording music. While in the studio, they said, the pressure to create the Next Big Thing was stifling. Acting, on the other hand, required them to show up, learn some lines, and get told what to do by a director. For the most part, Crossover didn’t try to make a judgment about whether or not musicians trying to act was right or wrong.
Over in the Lance Camp, I found myself wanting to tuck the poor boy into bed and slip sleeping pills into his hot chocolate. The footage was broken down into interviews and candid moments during casting, line readings, script revisions, wardrobe, filming, etc. During the interview portions Lance looked red and splotchy, with large bags under his eyes. His voice was huskier than usual, his hair was a dull gray-brown from the stripping and coloring, and he just looked generally run down. During the only judgmental moment in Crossover they edit footage of the “It’s Gonna Be Me” video with Jewel discussing how some musicians are performers without musicianship (they don’t play instruments, you know), who use their images and bodies to gain fans. Lance then says that he feels his six years in *NSYNC, living with a camera constantly in his face, have prepared him to be in film. This is followed shortly by commentary from John Doe (and, I think that people who live in Roswell-style houses should not throw stones) wherein he says that some musicians believe that making videos and dancing around onstage mean they can just show up and be thespians. All this sneaky editing would sting more, however, if they didn’t keep flashing back to Lance, struggling to fit everything into his busy schedule, looking so exhausted that he might topple over at any moment. It’s a cheap shot at someone with a work ethic of steel, and so it falls short.
If possible, this documentary made me love Lance more. When he realizes that he can’t film three days in a row because he has 1) a show in San Diego, 2) rehearsal with Stevie Wonder and 3) and an interview in New York, I just want to shove in next to him on the couch and hold him. When he leaves a message during a casting meeting for AJ (I’m assuming the one of Backstreet fame), he stumbles through it and then blushes at his ineptness; “That’s the worst message I’ve ever left in my life,” he says. I sigh and rewind. When they start testing various wardrobe choices, and he is faced with the eternal Tuck or Untuck question, I wonder, once again, how he’s surviving without me in his life to make these important choices for him.
However. Overall, Crossover made me more nervous about the impending doom of On the Line. When Lance is preparing for his first scene he looks nervous and pale, and when they get around to showing him filming his first scene, I had to cover my eyes. Of all the members of *NSYNC, he’s the one LEAST comfortable-looking in front of a camera. I saw nothing to contradict this here.
Release Date Mania!
I’ve been on pins and needles about the release date, as it has been publicized as at least four different weekends over the last three months. The rumors about why this is happening are many: Lance wanted to get out of the way of Drew Barrymore’s Riding in Cars with Boys, they had to re-shoot a scene after September 11, they had to push the glitzy premieres back because of September 11, Lance and Joey were too busy promoting Celebrity to do the proper press junket until now… The list goes on and on.
There have been so many changes – and the surprise of an early test premiere in Indianapolis – that it’s even been hard for me to keep up with it. This has been a primary fear. If I can’t follow it closely enough to make the proper plans to see it, how is the casual fan going to? Eek. I think it’s giving me an ulcer.
At press time, the official release is set for October 26 (and for you lucky gurls who get to see it earlier, I say shush!). As I have plans to hold onto Melynee for dear life in Las Vegas during this time, it had better not change again.
On the Line Allstars
The Making the Video for the On the Line theme song, “On the Line,” debuted at 10:30pm. I see this as a bad sign.
Every song that is deemed good – meant to be a hit – gets to start its run on MTV in the coveted slot behind TRL, benefiting from all the hype Carson Daly can muster. That “On the Line” was bumped to a time when most little girls (myself included) are usually in bed, despite the fact that Lance and Joey get lots of screen time, made me sick with worry. Clearly no one expects this song to go anywhere. And that makes sense, because it’s sort of a really bad song. But still! It has Mandy Moore, the Cutest Girl in the Entire World! It has Christian, the blond one from BBMak! It has some band you’ve never heard of called True Vibe!
Did I mention that Joey and Lance get lots of screen time? They never get screen time when the other boys are around, but this is their show, and they make the most of it by hamming it up in a way never before seen by these two. Joey calls Lance a “boner.” The two wrestle around the set, snuggle, and dance up on each other. Lance admits he doesn’t know the words to the song. They wear backpacks! And the piece de resistance: Lance breaks out all three Signature Moves ™. You get to see Throw Your Arms Wide, With Added Arching Eyebrow. You get to see the Step Forward with Straight-Armed Cross with Hook ‘Em Horns Hands. And. My very favorite, the patented Lance Dance, wherein he bends his elbows, makes fists, and shimmies his shoulders while his hips awkwardly follow. It’s almost TOO perfect, really.
Again, I found myself totally in adoration of Lance, while squicking about the movie. This is almost one hundred percent the fault of the kissing scene. Now. I know there is a kissing scene in the movie. I’ve seen the previews, I know that my poor boy seems to have some kissing defect that makes him look stiff and dispassionate while kissing girls. But this. Well, this was more than I could handle. Lance tries too hard to pretend he wants to kiss Emanuelle, going so far as to grab her and proclaiming it time to “make out.” I have yet to watch this scene without peeking around my fingers. How will I ever make it through an entire movie?
Thus begins the official talk show circuit, with Lance and Joey appearing without the other boys on Rosie. I was really excited about this one, because Rosie likes to ask the silly questions that require her interviewees to say silly and/or adorable things in response. When we’re talking about *NSYNC boys, this sort of interview is key. I like them to say as many stupidcute things as possible, every single time. I’m rarely disappointed.
And I wasn’t disappointed this time. Lance looked relaxed and happy. He kept his hand on the arm of Joey’s chair, like he wanted to reach out and touch him for the entire 11 minutes they were talking to Rosie. She asked some fairly hard questions, like, “How do you decide who gets to sing the solos on the albums?” and Lance did a nice job pretending that they “tried different things” even if no one believed that there was ever a question that Justin and JC would get all the leads. The chemistry between these two boys is just amazing. They are obviously friends in the truest sense, all good-natured teasing and mutual admiration. Rosie got Joey to talk about the baby, and Lance looked sort of proud of him, going so far as to proclaim that, “We have the baby bus. We had the dog, and now we have the baby.” I might have gotten a little melty. *NSYNCers-with-babies do it to me every time.
The On the Line stuff was fairly minimal. They showed the clip everyone has seen a dozen times, where GQ, Joey and the miscellaneous tall, blond friend try to convince Lance that he should let them take out all the girls responding to Kevin’s search, so that they can up the odds of him finding the right girl. Lance doesn’t suck in this scene. He looks cold, but he’s with Joey, and he seems comfortable with him. This clip comforts me that, at least, Lance will be charming in the movie.
Joey and Lance on TRL
I never know what to expect when Carson gets his hands on The Boys. He’s either feeling generous, and helps them mock their fame, or he’s feeling snarky, and he mocks them outright. For instance, the day prior to this, there was a tiny interview clip where Lance explained the impending United We Stand concert in D.C. He mentioned a bunch of performers, paused, and then threw out Michael Jackson’s name with an ecstatic roll of his eyes. Carson found this amusing, and made a cutting comment about Lance mentioning Michael.
This time, thankfully, he mostly felt the need to mock Joey’s choice of fashion. And it deserved mocking, truly. Dark jeans with name patches all over them, a Spam t-shirt and a bright pink paisley shirt do not a flattering outfit make, Joe.
Lance and Joey used almost the exact same schtick they used on Rosie – Joey teased Lance about how much he is like his character, Lance teased Joey about being typecast as the stupid best friend. Giggle, giggle. Laugh, laugh. And then they showed a clip. It was a longer version of something we see in the previews all the time, where Abby shows Kevin how to make a paper airplane. It’s the first time I had ever seen this clip, and the first time I had seen an extended scene with both Lance and Emanuelle. It was edited together a bit shoddily, so perhaps I can blame the discomfort I felt on that. But I was left with a sense of foreboding. Lance has no chemistry with Em. No matter how much he talks about it in interviews (“I read lines with her, and we just clicked immediately,” he said in Crossover), it just wasn’t there. When the clip was over, I realized that I had curled up in the corner of the couch in horror, and was covering my eyes with my hands. “Oh, God,” I thought. “Oh, God. This movie is going to suck.”
Lance on Live with Regis and Kelly
The first thing of note here is that Lance appeared with his shirt unbuttoned. Not just the top one. No, no. He had the top three – at least – unbuttoned with his very large cross necklace prominently displayed against his smooth, pale chest. I might have found it sexy, had it not been so startling, and so freaking WRONG. Lance just doesn’t do things like this. I don’t care if he might be getting laid by New (Fake) Girlfriend Laura, whom he unveiled on Access Hollywood and Entertainment Tonight the previous evening. N(F)GL should have told him that it was a bad look, in my opinion. It’s also important to note that the cross necklace appears to have been put back into heavy rotation after the events of September 11. I was beginning to wonder where it had gotten off to.
So. Scary chest exposure aside, Lance looked pretty fucking hot. I’m just sayin’.
I find Regis to be terribly abrasive, especially in situations like this, where he’s trying to be all buddy-buddy with his guests. He’s, like, the world’s oldest, well-known kiss-ass. Lance responded by being even more schmoozy than usual. Oh, Lance.
The clip was another one with Emanuelle, something new that I hadn’t seen before where they “banter” over the Chicago Cubs. Again, it was just. Dreadful. At this point in the game, I’m showing serious fear about the quality of On the Line and would like to track Lance down and beg him to delay the release. Indefinitely.
Lance on Late Night with Conan O’Brien
More with the hot. So much hot. Hot. Hot. Hot. Jesus, Lance, stop being so hot!
And now that I’ve had a bit of time to cool down, I realized why, exactly, he was so hot. He didn’t really talk. Conan spent a lot of time doing boyband monologues, while Lance sat in his chair and laughed and said things like, “That’s exactly right!” Just like when he’s performing with *NSYNC, Lance was sort of relegated to the background, where he looks far more comfortable than when he’s in the spotlight.
Discussion of the movie was limited to the last few seconds. Honestly, Lonnie (one of *NSYNC’s ubiquitous bodyguards) got more conversation time than On the Line. Conan said, “So. You’re in this movie with your bandmate Joey.” Lance said, “Yeah. It’s a romantic comedy, which I think is good, you know, for these times.” Then Lance mentioned that he’s a hopeless romantic, and everyone watching (including me) said awwwww. The end.
Joey on Live with Regis and Kelly
Poor me. As nothing is actually “live” when you live on the left coast, I tuned in hoping for Joey, and got pre-empted with the anthrax scare.
Fuck. Me. They have the same plot. Fatone and Bass vs. Piven and Cusack? Lance is doomed. Doomed, I tell you.
Joey and Lance on The View
This appearance was important for a couple of reasons. First, it occurred right after Lance introduced his new girlfriend to the world, at the NYC premiere. Second, it was the follow-up to a FABULOUS *NSYNC interview on the same show just weeks before, wherein Lance proposed to Starr Jones. This was either going to be cringe-worthy, or it was going to leave me on the floor gasping for breath.
I should start with the basics. Lance was wearing a buttercup yellow button-up shirt. I hesitate to call it a blouse, but it did have a certain drape to it. And it was unbuttoned. To reveal. A tight white wifebeater, and the ever-present Enormous Cross. I have decided that I really do want Lance to be madly in love with New (Fake) Girlfriend Laura. But I cannot, in good faith, believe him when he looks this flamey. Even while discussing N(F)GL, he had his legs crossed, hands demurely on his knees, the eyes rolling madly. Oh, honey.
Yeah. Yeah. And Joey was with him, looking fairly hot.
The interview, however, was horribly organized. Halfway through they brought Emanuelle up on the stage (and the camera caught Meredith Edwards, also sitting in the crowd). Em and Lance did their, “we like to kiss” schtick, and then Emanuelle proceeded to hog the rest of the time on stage, gushing about how great Joey and Lance are. I’m glad she’s pimping them. But. I wanted to hear more about this girlfriend! I wanted to hear Joey talk more about his baby girl!
I wanted, in fact, for them to CALM ME THE FUCK DOWN about the movie. Didn’t happen. Nerves are a wonderful thing.
Lance on Good Morning America
So unspectacular, and uninformative to boot. Lance had just flown in from Washington, D.C., where he had performed in the United We Stand concert the night before. His eyes were puffy, his speech was slurred, he looked like he was going to fall asleep in his chair.
I wanted to crawl into his lap.
Lance on The Daily Show
I think, were he taller, I would be completely in love with Jon Stewart.
Notice that I said “completely,” which implies that I’m already a little bit in love with him. Throw in a little Lance, and this is a talk show appearance made in my dreams. It didn’t disappoint.
Jon chose, as he often does, to completely skip discussion about the movie, and focus instead on things that interest him. Things like Lou Pearlman, and the way he fucked over *NSYNC. Things like how his wife gets bored in bed, and so he pretends to be a member of the group to keep things interesting. Things like how Lance had a non-speaking part in My Fair Lady.
And through it all, Lance giggled and beamed and looked totally at home. They mention the movie, like, once, so that Jon can make funny of Joey for having such a small part. It’s all good. I can’t wait for the movie to come out.
Lance, Joey and Emanuelle on MadTV
Wrong. Wrong. Wrong.
I can’t figure out how The Boys keep ending up on this show. It wasn’t funny when Chris did it over the summer, and it was doubly not funny now. In fact, I was sort of offended at the way Lance was portrayed by the comedian. Had he ever looked at tape of Lance? Had he ever listened to interviews? Lance doesn’t say things like “bomb diggity fresh,” moron.
I turned off my TV in horror, and sat on my bed staring at the blank screen. Please, please. PLEASE. Let him be funny with a good script. Please?
One day to go…
I feel vaguely as if I’m going to throw up. Seriously. The press has been hell on my fragile psyche. Although Lance has been smooth, and very…um…pretty, during all the interviews, the clips from the actual movie don’t look promising.
He’s going to fail! I think the movie is going to fail. I worry about Lance being crushed. I worry about his budding film career being crushed. I worry that N(F)GL won’t be enough to make him feel better. I worry about myself.