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These boys won't follow in 'N Sync's footsteps

Kristen Baldwin praises ABC’s ”Making The Band,” where reality TV meets pretty guys who can’t sing

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These boys won’t follow in ‘N Sync’s footsteps

It’s often the case in television that high quality, low profile series are eschewed by viewers for their flashy, overpromoted counterparts, and this summer is no different. Right now the nation’s jaws are a-waggin’ about a little reality show called ”Survivor,” but nobody is paying any attention to an even better true life series (Oh, yes — I said ”better”) that’s been on for months: ABC’s ”Making the Band.”

A brief ”Band” primer: Lou Perlman, the Man Behind the Curtain of such successful boy bands as ‘N Sync and Backstreet Boys, decided to put together a new pop group, O-Town, and chronicle the whole process on camera — with a little help from the producers of MTV’s ”Real World.” Two weeks ago, in the show’s highest-rated episode to date, Perlman winnowed down the show’s seven finalists into the five winners -? the ones who made the band -? in a weepy, huggy, ”I love you, man!”-filled powwow.

But don’t think that because you’ve missed the selection process that the thrill is gone. It’s quite the opposite. Now that these gloriously, hilariously, cluelessly untalented boys actually have to make a go of this singing/dancing thing, the real fun is about to begin. Here’s a brief rundown of the gang.

? ERIK (Last name, I kid you not, Estrada) A self-described ”Nuyorican” with a nondescript voice and a cocksure attitude.

? IKAIKA A moody, brooding Hawaiian who often took off for days at a time during the selection process, bitched about the contract, and complained constantly about his potential band mates, but somehow managed to make the band (he can almost sing) and now fancies himself the leader.

? JACOB The Justin Timberlake look-alike and hardass wannabe who hated Ikaika (and even vowed to quit if Ikaika joined) until Lou Perlman essentially told him he wasn’t allowed to have that opinion.

? TREVOR The earnest, sleepy-eyed, likable lug who wept like a baby upon learning he made the O-Town cut.

? ASHLEY (Last name, I kid you not, Angel) A tailor-made blond cutie with a tailor-made boy-band name. So who cares that he displays no discernible talent? He’s the most tragic figure in the band, given his failed-musician father’s blunt lack of support (he calls Ashley’s ambitions ”foolish”) and especially given the boy’s shrill harpy of a girlfriend, Shelli.

Currently, ”Band” is making much soap operatic hay of Ashley’s problems with Shelli, who continually berates him over the phone and had a meltdown when he suggested they give the relationship some space: ”Give it some space? There’s, like, 4,000 miles between us. You want some more space? Why don’t you go overseas?”

Even more enthralling is watching the young, inept hopefuls endure endless humiliations — from choreographers who scold them for laziness to a bitchy publicist who snaps, ”I’ll never ask you to not have a girlfriend [but] I defy any of you to be able to keep one!” to the degradation of being outsung by C-Note, a B-list boy band. Yet the O-Towners remain filled with hubris as they earnestly prepare for the ”fame” they’re certain awaits them. The fact that O-Town is destined for ”fall flat on your face” failure gives ”Making the Band” true train wreck TV cred. Tune in once and you’ll find it impossible to turn away from the carnage.