By Spencer Feingold
Nostalgia for the 1990s often includes hit boy bands such as Backstreet Boys and *NSYNC. But few remember Lou Pearlman, the disgraced impresario who managed the bands and created one of the largest Ponzi schemes in U.S. history.
A new documentary by former *NSYNC member Lance Bass and director Aaron Kunkel details the life of Pearlman and exposes the darker side of the entertainment industry.
“I jumped at the chance to be able to tell this story,” Bass told Cheddar in an interview Thursday.
The film, "The Boy Band Con: The Lou Pearlman Story,” was produced as a YouTube Original Documentary and was released this week in select theaters.
Pearlman was the founder of the superstar-bands *NSYNC and the Backstreet Boys in the mid-1990s. However, the business model was based on a multi-million dollar Ponzi scheme.
“He would use his success with all these bands to dangle a little carrot and say ‘invest in us and you’ll own the Backstreet Boys and you’ll own *NSYNC,’” Bass explained.
In 2007, Pearlman was convicted of fraud and money laundering. He fled the country and was arrested in Indonesia. Pearlman died in 2016 at the age of 62 while serving a 25-year prison sentence in Florida.
“It was brilliant until he got caught,” Bass said.
The documentary features interviews with fellow *NSYNC members JC Chasez and Chris Kirkpatrick, Backstreet Boys member AJ McLean, and the pop singer Aaron Carter. It also includes family and friends of Pearlman.
Bass and Kunkel said the film is not meant to smear Pearlman but to highlight complex relationships, as well as, the exploitation that runs rampant in the world of fame and entertainment.
“He was a family member, and even when a family member does something really bad to you, you still have this love for them,” Bass said.
The film also serves as a cautionary tale. People will ultimately find ways to exploit others but “hopefully this is changing and people will be held responsible more,” Kunkel said.
For full interview click here.