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By Maureen Lee Lenker
November 09, 2020 at 10:00 AM EST
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DASH AND LILY
Credit: ALISON COHEN ROSA/NETFLIX

The holidays might be the time for eggnog and spiked hot cocoa, but the Jonas Brothers cameo in the new Netflix series Dash & Lily all started over a glass of tequila.

As Netflix announced Monday, the boy band appears in the final episode of the series during a concert that Dash (Austin Abrams) attends on New Year's Eve, and audiences can get a sneak peek of the cameo in the video below. Of course, it's only part of the Jonas involvement in the project, as Nick Jonas co-produced the project under his new shingle Image 32, with Shawn Levy and his company 21 Laps Entertainment.

From the beginning of his work on the project, Jonas was hoping to find a way to make a brief appearance in his first outing as a producer. When Levy visited him backstage following a Jonas Brothers concert, Jonas told the producer about his and his brother's then-forthcoming Christmas single, "Like It's Christmas," and an idea was born.

"One of the things I was most thrilled about [was] the fact that my brothers and I had released a Christmas song last year around the time we were shooting the show, which made it a perfect synergy," Jonas tells EW. "Shawn came to our show at the Hollywood Bowl. I told him about this track and [we were] generally talking about the overall tone and feel of the [show's] music."

Dash & Lily boasts a festive soundtrack, ranging from Christmas chestnuts by Nat King Cole to more modern classics by the likes of Kelly Clarkson. The atmospheric needle drops should come as no surprise given both Jonas' role as producer and the fact that the series was created by Joe Tracz, who wrote and created the Broadway musical Be More Chill.

But because the Jonas Brothers filmed their cameo before post-production began, their single greatly influenced the overall sound of the show. "I was more speaking in broad strokes about the music and the feeling of nostalgia, but also making sure it felt modern," Jonas recalls. "Our song happened to check all those boxes. To be able to actually do the cameo we did, it set the template for the music supervisors on the show to go and hear our song and have that classic feeling, but still feel a bit modern and progressive in that way."

The song might have made for an organic moment to include the Jonas Brothers in the storytelling (as well as an additional pivotal scene with Nick in his trailer interacting with Dash and his friends), but actually shooting it was another story given that Nick was busy touring with his brothers throughout production. "We had to figure out a way to get the shoot done with me and the Brothers just in time for us to make it to our show," he reveals. "We shot it in the city, [and] it was that kind of miserable weather day where it's not really cold enough to snow, but it's cold enough for the rain that's falling to feel like you're getting hit with little rocks. We got it done, and then we had to rush across the river to Jersey because we had a show at Prudential Center that night."

In spite of the weather, Jonas says the set had a festive atmosphere, playing to a crowd of extras at Hudson Yards. "There were fans on the barrier of the sets and people collecting and watching, which was fun," he adds.

But it wasn't only a challenge because of the weather and meeting a quick deadline for the Jonas Brothers concert. Levy notes that the on-location shooting over fall and winter 2019 in New York City both lent the show its distinctive feel, while also presenting a unique production challenge. "We really wanted that iconic, romantic holiday season in New York," he reflects. "But it posed two challenges. When we were filming before and after the holiday season, it was really challenging to make it look like it was the middle of winter, and when we were filming in the midst of the holiday season, it was that much harder to wrangle control in very crowded streets."

Though the Jonas Brothers cameo will undoubtedly draw fans to the YA rom-com that is Dash & Lily, it also plants a stake (of holly) in the ground for Jonas' new production company Image 32. Levy, who had worked with Jonas previously when he and his brothers played marble cherubs in Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian, approached the multi-hyphenate about the project.

"I've known Nick since he was 13 or 14," Levy tells EW. "Even back then, it was so clear that this was a very talented and equally ambitious young person. We've stayed friends over the years... I just felt that there's a romanticism to Nick's worldview, [and] there's obviously some tremendous musical instincts that Nick brings on a show that we knew would have a major musical component. It also just seemed like it would be really fun to collaborate with a longtime pal."

Jonas was enchanted by the script and felt it was the perfect opportunity to connect with fans in this new aspect of his career. "YA and New Adult, it's a group of people I've been speaking to for a long time. I felt like I could bring a really unique perspective and understanding of that audience," he explains. "Most of what I'm doing with my production company is self-generated IP and ideas and things that I'm writing myself, which are starting to really pick up momentum, but this was a perfect step being able to come onto something and provide a unique perspective and collaborate with some people I really know and love and respect."

Both Levy and Jonas saw eye-to-eye on the potential for using the trappings of the holiday rom-com to tell a story about young adults. "It's incredibly gratifying to tell stories about and for that teenage and young adult demographic because the engagement of the audience is so passionate," Levy says. "When you connect with a young audience, it's particularly gratifying because they let you feel it, they let you know it."

Jonas knows all about that, so for him, the real reward was in how creator Joe Tracz crafted the storytelling. "Even though these characters are younger, they're coming of age and stepping into adulthood and dealing with some adult themes and bigger ideas," he muses. "I love that he didn't write them as kids but as young adults. That was really, really nice to see."

The show is just one of Jonas' holiday offerings this season. He and his brothers also recently released another Christmas single, "I Need You Christmas," and Jonas is happy to be the purveyor of much-needed holiday cheer for our ears and eyes.

"It's a really beautiful, classic feeling tune and the nice thing about Christmas music is that it never goes away. Once it's there, knowing every year that it's going to kind of come back and return is a nice thing," he concludes. "I think we all could use a bit of that holiday cheer and romantic New York feel."

Dash & Lily premieres on Netflix on Nov. 10.

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Disclaimer: This interview was conducted prior to the 2020 election.

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