Move over, Jennifer Lopez. There’s a new singing dancing acting hyphenate in town. At the Sundance Film Festival, ‘N Sync member Lance Bass, 21, announced he’ll executive produce and star in ”On the Line,” a $10 million romantic comedy costarring fellow band member Joey Fatone. Tentatively scheduled to begin shooting in Toronto this June, the plot follows a lovestruck guy (Bass) tracking down the girl of his dreams (a yet to be named actress) after a brief encounter on a Chicago commuter train.
”Line” will be the first project from Bass’ brand new production company, A Happy Place Films. ”I’ve always been interested in making movies,” Bass tells EW.com. ”We joke about it in the entertainment industry: Every actor wants to be a musician, and every musician wants to be an actor.”
Or maybe just a big time Hollywood producer. Bass, who got his acting break playing Beverley Mitchell’s blind date on ”7th Heaven,” says he doesn’t plan to hog the spotlight. ”Actually, I didn’t want to star in this film,” the Grammy nominated singer admits. ”I’m more interested in producing than acting. This will probably be one of the few films I do.”
Even if Bass doesn’t see himself as the next Keanu Reeves, he DOES think other musicians could cross over. Happy Place aims for them to star in the company’s films. ”I ask fans what they’d like to see, and they want to see their favorite musicians and athletes in films,” says Bass. ”It’s an avenue for these stars to be seen in a different light.”
Ironically, A Happy Place Films arose out of an ‘N Sync film project that fell through. Tom Hanks’ production company, Play Tone, approached the band about making a movie, and though it never came together, Bass and Play Tone exec Wendy Thorlakson decided to hang out their own production shingle. ”Lance knows all the celebrities, and he can just go up to a musician or athlete and say, ‘Hey, want to do a movie?”’ says Thorlakson. ”With him they think, ‘Hey, if he can do it, I think I can do it, and so why not do it with him?”’
In fact, Bass is already searching for rap and hip hop stars to cast in his next project, ”Shooting From the Heart,” based on a magazine article by ”Tuesdays with Morrie” author Mitch Albom. Though some nonacting celebs’ transitions to the big screen haven’t been so smooth (Michael Jordan in ”Space Jam,” anyone?), Bass thinks he can create the right vehicles for raw talent. ”It all depends on the individual and the individual project,” he says, pointing out the successes of Whitney Houston, Elvis, Mark Wahlberg, and, of course, Lopez.
”Somebody might get criticized for doing some movie that totally sucks, then turn around and be incredible. Every actor goes through that, not just musicians who act. It’s hard for fans to expand their imagination about their favorite musicians or athletes, but in the end I think it totally works.”
And even if a musician turns in a less than stellar performance, you can bet that a star studded soundtrack will help drown it out. The company will be emphasizing movie music, thanks to partner Johnny Wright, who manages not only ‘N Sync, but Britney Spears, Blaque, and Aaron Carter. Just don’t hold your breath for any Eminem tracks or film cameos. Though Bass isn’t ruling out R rated movies, he’s predominantly interested in keeping things strictly PG-13. ”We want people to go to the movies and come out saying, ‘Everything about it was great, and they didn’t have to blow someone up or curse every five seconds,”’ he says. ”We’re not out there to do shoot ’em up or porn.”
Though Bass is going to be busy in the studio for the next month and a half recording his band’s next album, he insists he’s no mere figurehead for A Happy Place Films. ”’N Sync is one thing, and it does take up a lot of my time, but this is my other love,” he says, noting he’ll stay in regular contact with Thorlakson and the company’s other partners even while touring. ”I’m always on the phone with the studios, always reading scripts, always trying to make a deal. If I had my whole attention focused on just ‘N Sync, I think I’d go crazy.”