Former ‘NSYNC member Lance Bass has teamed up with director Aaron Kunkel to craft a documentary where they explore the dark side of being in a boy band in the film The Boy Band Con: The Lou Pearlman Story, which debuted at SXSW on March 13.
Along with ‘NSYNC members J.C. Chasez and Chris Kirkpatrick, Backstreet Boys member A.J. McLean, Nikki DeLoach of Innosense, and Ashley Parker Angel of O-Town, Bass revealed what it was like working for super-producer Pearlman, who had the Midas touch when it came to creating, running, and marketing young singing groups. However, what those in his employ as singers didn’t know was that behind the scenes, Pearlman was running a multi-leveled Ponzi scheme that would eventually land him in jail and allow his acts to lose millions of dollars in earned royalties.
While former ‘NSYNC member Justin Timberlake did not participate in the documentary, his mother, Lynn Harless, did.
Billboard reported that Pearlman’s Trans Continental businesses were an empire in the 1990s built on fraud, per investigators who looked into his financial statements. It was revealed, per Billboard, that Pearlman had defrauded investors out of at least $300 million. He was later sentenced to 25 years in prison in 2008 and served eight years before suffering a fatal heart attack in jail.
Bass and Kunkel did not intend to make any salacious claims against Pearlman in the documentary. Rather, they wanted to tell their tale via first-hand accounts of their experiences with Pearlman and to use the film as a cautionary tale for aspiring, young musicians. The film details not only their experiences with the music mogul but also the way he scammed them out of royalties and fees that should have totaled in the millions.
In one particularly telling segment, Ashley Parker Angel revealed that when he opened his first royalty check, his heart sank and he revealed he “could have made as much working full-time in Starbucks.”
Deadline reported that Bass wanted to only use factual information for this documentary.
“I knew I didn’t want to tell any story that I didn’t have complete facts on. That was my reservation — and that’s a lot of the cast’s reservation to even do this film because they just didn’t want to be a part of a very dark story of just really beating a dead man down. I knew that’s not the journey we were taking.”
In fact, The Boy Band Con would have never been made had Pearlman not passed. Bass noted to Deadline that he did not want any interaction with Pearlman in the project, hence, his and other stories have not been told until the present day.
The other side of the coin was that if the film completely defamed Pearlman, what would that do to the legacies of some of the most popular and dynamic boy bands in music history? This is where the film reportedly takes a slightly different turn, with Kunkel noting that the performers had nothing to do with Pearlman’s illegal dealings, and in the end, were hurt just as much by his actions due to their connection to him.
Complex reported that all of the acts that worked with Pearlman would later sue him for misrepresentation and fraud.
The Boy Band Con: The Lou Pearlman Story will be released on YouTube Red on April 3.