As the Brat Pack can attest, the odds of enjoying a thriving career after being part of a teen craze are less than promising. For every Tom Cruise, there’s an Andrew McCarthy…and a C. Thomas Howell. Here’s how 10 current stars can become teen survivors.
JENNIFER LOVE HEWITT
GOAL The next Sandra Bullock OBSTACLE Living down four years of playing ”Party of Five” patsy Sarah. ADVICE Love Hewitt’s movies (from ”I Know What You Did Last Summer” to ”Heartbreakers”) are too obsessed with her chest. Should forgo sexpot parts in favor of goofy girl-next-door roles that will give her a loyal female fan base.
SPICE GIRL MELANIE C.
GOAL Move beyond girl power to staying power. OBSTACLE Here-today, gone-today music churn. ADVICE After her sappy solo album was remixed, it yielded a mega-club hit (”I Turn to You”). So instead of trying to be a Chrissie Hynde clone, Sporty should lose the leather and go dance diva. That’s what fans really, really want.
GOAL A latter-day Adam Sandler OBSTACLE Unless there’s a warm apple pie involved, his films don’t make dough. ADVICE Ditch the dork routine (”Loser,” ”Saving Silverman”) and look for a role that showcases his inner wedding singer.
SARAH MICHELLE GELLAR
GOAL A younger Gillian Anderson OBSTACLE To many, she’ll always be Buffy. ADVICE Her first romantic comedy, ”Simply Irresistible,” flopped. But ”Cruel Intentions” showed her mean streak. Should follow ”Scooby-Doo” with an indie flick that shows Buffy-style grit.
BACKSTREET BOY BRIAN LITTRELL
GOAL Already looking ahead, he wants to be the Gen-Y version of Christian music’s Michael W. Smith. OBSTACLE The devout could have a tough time reconciling heavenly tunes with his suggestive BSB lyrics. ADVICE The best-voiced Backstreeter should think about going country instead; that way he can be fun and God-fearing at the same time.
GOAL Madonna, but with a better acting career OBSTACLE She could be a worse actor than Madonna. ADVICE She plays a pop star in all of her videos, so her film roles need to be everyday girls. Urge to do ”Dirty Dancing 2” or ”Grease 3” was a good one; she should use her clout to get these movies made.
GOAL Ben Affleck OBSTACLE It’s tough to cultivate a movie career when you’re stuck 24/7 at the ”Creek.” ADVICE Jackson’s ”Skulls” costar Paul Walker has a killer bod that he shows off in ”The Fast and the Furious”; Jackson needs to hit the gym and join the buff-guy brigade.
GOAL Jodie Foster OBSTACLE She’s squandering her ”American Beauty” promise with too many silly teen comedies. ADVICE ”Beauty” showed range; she should find a project where she can play someone’s daughter (we’re thinking Meryl Streep or Foster herself) and get serious.
GOAL Hootie and the Blowfish, the early years OBSTACLE In a word, puberty. ADVICE Get the musical chops for a lasting career. Need to cultivate a harder, more radio-friendly sound; when new material is ready, avoid TRL like a Freddie Prinze Jr. movie and hit adult clubs instead (you’re old enough now).
GOAL To make a second album OBSTACLE It’s kinda hard to build momentum when ABC yanks your weekly ad — er, series — during May sweeps. ADVICE Sorry, guys, you’re on your own.