Sixties-set show taps Michelle Branch for cameo -- ''American Dreams,'' about a girl who lands a gig on ''American Bandstand,'' hopes to book other current pop stars to play past ones
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Brittany Snow, Michelle Branch, ...
Credit: American Dreams: Paul Drinkwater

How do you make a drama about a Kennedy-era family accessible to today’s young viewers? Here’s an idea: Recruit contemporary crooners like Michelle Branch (”Everywhere”) to play the pop idols of yore.

Branch will be portraying ’60s sensation Lesley Gore in an upcoming episode of ”American Dreams,” NBC’s new fall series about a Philadelphia girl who scores a coveted dancing gig on ”American Bandstand” (Dick Clark is an executive producer). ”Nobody remembers what Chubby Checker or Lesley Gore looked like even though their songs were so great,” says creator Jonathan Prince. ”So we decided to take today’s singers to pay homage to these artists.”

While Prince has no plans to recruit ‘N Sync to cover the Beach Boys (”We’d be crazy not to use the real footage of them from Bandstand”), it’s his dream to score singers like Mary J. Blige or Vanessa Carlton to play old-timers such as Mary Wells and Joan Baez (Branch, in the meantime, will sing a rendition of Gore’s ”You Don’t Own Me”). Prince just hopes the cameos won’t upstage the drama’s primary task — depicting a typical ’60s family, featuring ”NYPD Blue”’s Gail O’Grady as the mom and Brittany Snow as the ”Bandstand” bopper. Says Prince, ”It’s hard not to make this a variety show every week because you could.”

(Additional reporting by Tricia Johnson)

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