Plus, a new wrestling association would feature hip hop stars
SPEARS FISHING As Britney Spears would say, ”Oops!” Columbia TriStar Television, which signed Spears to a March 1999 development deal, never managed to turn the teen siren into a multimedia star à la ”Moesha”’s Brandy. It certainly wasn’t hard to lure the former Mouseketeer to the studio that produces ”Dawson’s Creek”; Spears was eager to both headline her own show and join Dawson and Pacey for an episode or two. So how come she never made it inside the halls of Capeside High? Studio insiders say the ”Dawson’s” cast was never hot on the idea (they didn’t appreciate being bullied by the studio, says one source).
But Spears never had a chance to pout: She vaulted to platinum recording artist status, which left little time for the small screen. ”It became obvious that her desire to do TV shows had changed,” says a source close to the singer. And although shows like ”Popular” and producers like David E. Kelley have come calling (some with guest-spot offers of $100,000), ”Britney’s focus is now on movies.” Isn’t that what David Caruso said?
THE BIG GRAPPLE Eminem might soon have a legitimate place to vent his frustrations. Sports agency RLR Associates, along with video production company PPI Entertainment, is developing the Urban Wrestling Federation, which would target the growing segment of African Americans who already follow franchises like ”Smackdown!” (30 percent of UPN’s 7.4 million wrestling fans are black). The lure, says RLR vice president Gary I. Rosen, is to offer hip-hop music amid the gruntin’ and grapplin’. ”It will be very street, with a DJ,” Rosen says, adding that he’s hoping it will also attract a mainstream audience.
Though it may be months before Rosen finds a network to carry it, UWF may be on to something: The WWF’s already established a successful urban connection by incorporating hip-hop stars like Kid Rock into the action and producing a music video featuring a Run DMC song. Still, Vince McMahon’s camp doesn’t feel like they’re about to get a full nelson from the fledgling UWF. ”Different producers sometimes take a run at the WWF genre, but what usually happens is that these shows never see the light of day,” says senior VP of marketing Jim Byrne.” In the process, they gain incredible appreciation for how much goes into what we do.”
MORE BRITNEY Check out EW.com’s new searchable archive to read everything Entertainment Weekly has ever published about Britney Spears