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Date: Mar 09, 2001
Source: Entertainment Weekly
Submitted By: Teena

Growing up may hurt 'N Sync and Backstreet Boys . With news about marriage and fatherhood emerging, boy bands are testing their teen fans' loyalty

by Liane Bonin

Last week millions of teenage hearts shattered when rumors surfaced that 'N Sync singer Joey Fatone and his unnamed longtime girlfriend will become parents early this summer. Though Fatone, 24, reportedly has no plans to shimmy down the aisle, sources say he's ready and willing to be a devoted dad. But will his plan to croon lullabies make teen fans say bye, bye, bye? took a look at Fatone and some other rapidly maturing heartthrobs to discover whether their adult lifestyles will make their fans switch allegiance to up and comers O-Town.

NAME Joey Fatone of 'N Sync

WHAT Can you say ''da da''?

WHAT HE SAYS'' [The problem is] you want to try and become serious [about a relationship],'' Fatone told People in 1999, ''then you're like, 'I'll see you in a couple of months. I gotta go off to work.'' Doesn't sound like he'll be Mr. Mom.

WHAT THE PROS SAY ''There will be a few fans who look down on him, but not all teens subscribe to the same values,'' says Laura Morgan, music editor of Seventeen. But fans under 14 may feel betrayed. ''I think young girls, especially in the Midwest, may be disappointed in him, thinking, 'If you love her enough to get her pregnant, marry her,''' says Cathee Sandstrom, former editor of BOP magazine. ''And when these guys start being thought of as men, it distances them from their fans, since they're almost in the same category as their dads.'' Ewww!

OUR VERDICT No big deal. It's not like Joey was the cute one. But J.C. and Justin? They'd better take the necessary precautions.

NAME Justin Timberlake of 'N Sync

WHAT He and Britney Spears, who met as 12 year olds working on the Mickey Mouse Club, began their romance in 1998.

WHAT HE SAYS ''Every relationship I've been in,'' Timberlake told CosmoGirl, ''I've eventually overwhelmed the girl because they just can't handle all the love.'' Isn't that, um, stalking?

WHAT THE PROS SAY ''These two were huge pop stars in their own right before anyone knew they were dating, so being united just makes them more of a force,'' says Morgan. But Sandstrom, who chose not to break the story of the budding relationship for fear of alienating BOP readers, believes young admirers may sour on Spears. ''When Britney went public with the relationship, her teen girl fans stopped looking at her as a sweet ally, and starting looking at her as an enemy.'' Ouch.

OUR VERDICT They'd better beware of cheesy matching denim outfits like what we saw at the American Music Awards, or they'd both better start looking for desk jobs.

NAME Nick Carter of the Backstreet Boys

WHAT''The cute one,'' 21, briefly shacked up with his now ex, 20 year old Atlantic Records artist Willa Ford.

WHAT HE SAYS''What guy couldn't say that he likes women being after him?'' he told People. ''I'm not going to lie. It's great!''

WHAT THE PROS SAYBSB fans have forgiven Carter for dating the sultry blond, but Ford's career may be permanently off track. ''There were about 40 anti- Willa sites on Yahoo alone when they were dating,'' says Lori Majewski, entertainment editor of Teen People. Angry Carter fans started a letter campaign to block Ford from getting media coverage for her as yet unreleased album.

OUR VERDICT Golden boy Carter hasn't lost any luster -- but if he even thinks about a duet with Ford when her debut album is released, he's toast.

NAME Brian Littrell of the Backstreet Boys

WHATIn September, Littrell, 26, married his girlfriend of three years, actress Leighanne Wallace, 31 (''Wild America''); she helped nurse him through a 1998 heart surgery.

WHAT HE SAYS ''She knocked me off my feet the first time I saw her,'' he gushed to In Style. ''I've always wanted what my parents have -- a wonderful marriage.''

WHAT THE PROS SAY ''The band is trying to outgrow their boy band tag, so their lives and their music are maturing,'' says Majewski. ''We didn't see a lot of letters from girls who were upset about [the wedding].'' But, as usual, the woman gets the heat from those fans who are peeved: ''They're bummed he's been taken away by a hottie starlet,'' explains Sandstrom.

OUR VERDICT If his fan base ever falters, a little more heart surgery will give his sympathy factor a healthy boost.

NAME Kevin Richardson of the Backstreet Boys

WHAT Last June Richardson, 29, married dancer girlfriend Kristin Willits, 30; they'd met in '93 working at Walt Disney World.

WHAT HE SAYS It was love at first sight, but loving long distance almost destroyed their relationship (Richardson was stuck on the road and Willits was traveling as a dancer for Cher). ''We ended up breaking up for a little while,'' he says.

WHAT THE PROS SAY ''Being the oldest, Kevin's always been the man among boys in the group,'' says Sandstrom. ''Though journalists probably thought Kevin was the cutest, young girls liked Brian and Nick best, so it didn't hurt them that Kevin got married.

OUR VERDICTKids may not care, but refuses to buy any more BSB CDS, dammit!

NAME Nick Lachey of 98

WHAT The blue eyed 27 year old has been dating singer Jessica Simpson for two years.

WHAT HE SAYS Adjusting to Simpson's vow of chastity until marriage has taught Lachey patience... lots and lots of patience. ''It's not always easy,'' he admitted to People. ''But I do respect it. Virginity can be cool and sexy.'' Uh huh.

WHAT THE PROS SAY ''A lot of girls think Nick and Jessica have the ideal relationship, and they look up to them,'' says Majewski.

OUR VERDICT C'mon, give them some credit, if only because they haven't exploded from sexual frustration.

NAME Jeff Timmons of 98

WHAT The unmarried dad is committed to a girlfriend he refuses to name and their 2 1/2 year old daughter, Alyssa.

WHAT HE SAYS''I've always been into the father thing,'' he told Teen People last year. ''That's my goal in life, to be a good father. I want to have ten kids.''

WHAT THE PROS SAY Because 98 has an older audience than 'N Sync, their fans may be more accepting of his paternity. ''In the '70s or '80s having a baby out of wedlock might have been scandalous,'' says Majewski. ''It's not as big of a deal now.'' But Sandstrom points out that 98, which now has only one unattached member (Justin Jeffre), could lose some of their younger audience: ''Maybe they'll find some new boy band to crush on.''

OUR VERDICT Timmons will survive... as long as he doesn't incorporate ''Sesame Street'' tunes into the live act.

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