Top 40's latest sweetheart tells EW Online about Eminem, older guys, and -- gulp -- reading books

By Craig Seymour
Updated June 06, 2000 at 04:00 AM EDT
Mandy Moore
Credit: Rick Maiman/Corbis Sygma

Sure, like Christina Aguilera and Britney Spears, 16 year old Mandy Moore is blonde, sings R&B-sweetened pop (her new album is ”I Wanna Be With You”), and exudes the aggressive cheer of a high school pep squad. But there’s a notable difference between Moore and her sisters in teen pop. Where Aguilera and Spears have made music their primary vehicle to stardom, Moore has already branched out with a spokesteen gig for Neutrogena and a three-year deal with MTV, where she hosts her own daily show at 10 a.m. (Tuesday’s topic: ”If I hook up I’m a ho/If he hooks up he’s a hero”). ”It’s called ‘Mandy’ so you won’t forget the name,” explains the branding-savvy lass.

EW Online talked to, er, what’s-her-name about her bid to become the Teen of All Media.

EW Online: So, what’s with the whole teen pop thing, anyway?
Mandy Moore: Well, a lot of the people who are buying CDs are teenagers, right? So why wouldn’t they want music made by kids for kids? And it’s fun, happy music. People may complain that all we sing about is teenage love and stuff, but we haven’t really had the experience to talk about political issues and life past 18.

What do you think about Eminem attacking your teen pop cohorts on his single?
I think it’s funny. But when I saw him at ”TRL” the other day, I said ”don’t say anything bad about me.”

So, what’s up with your TV show?
We talk about music and fashion and issues that teenagers can relate to. As an artist, it’s so important to show people your personality. I’m sure there are people who watch MTV who don’t like my kind of music, but maybe they’ll see me do something on TV and say, ”She seems kinda cool.” And maybe they’ll check out my music because of it.

You’ve said that Madonna and Bette Midler are you musical idols — which talk show hosts do you like?
I love Rosie. She’s very into the music. And she’s very motherly. She told me on the show, ”Now, you can’t be dressing like Britney or Mariah.”

Are you surprised by your success?
Most definitely. It’s weird because Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera had this automatic success, but my single ”Candy” barely even made it into the top 30 when it first came out.

Have you tried writing songs yet?
I gave ideas to the writers on the album, because they were 30 and 40 year old guys, so how are they gonna know what’s going on inside a 15 year old girl’s head? But, frankly, I’m glad that people didn’t push me to write a song on the album, because I wasn’t ready at that point.

Gregory Dark lensed your ”Walk Me Home” video — did you know that he used to direct porn?
Honestly I didn’t. We made the video and then the story about his past broke. But it never bothered me and probably never will. Everybody has stuff in their past that they’re not that proud of. But he’s a great director and I’d love to do another video with him.

Any hobbies?
I love to read. I just finished ”Tuesdays with Morrie.”

Well, speaking of older guys — any truth to the rumors that you’re dating MTV’s newsman cutie Brian McFayden?
No, we’re just friends. He’s a little old, like 25. Mom and Dad would freak. But we’re really good friends. I hang out with him when I’m in New York, and I talk to him on the phone and stuff — but no relationship.

What are you looking for in a beau?
I need to find somebody my age who understands that I’m not home a lot. It’s a hard concept for a 16 year old guy to deal with, because girls — obviously — mature quicker than guys do. In the past, when I’ve tried to date boys from home, they don’t understand why I can’t come to their basketball games and stuff. And it’s not that I’m this huge busy star, but schedules change every two minutes in this business. I’m always looking, though. I’m a 16 year old girl — I’m gonna have a boyfriend.