August 29, 2004

Just remember where you heard it first


Looks like I got back to the blog just in time to catch a major development in the Swift Boat Veter-- oh, who am I kidding? It's about Huckapoo! As if it wasn't enough that MetaFilter and Dumbrella have caught Huckapneumonia, today The New York Frickin' Times has a major feature on the band. My work here is done. (Note: To read the complete NYT story, click here.)

(Well, I probably ought to catch their first real concert, huh?)

The Times article is rich enough to satisfy just about anyone's Huckapoo jones, even mine. It's got backstories and quotes, ironies and aspirations, and the proper way to spell "Brittney." The only elided part is this:

Seven months ago, Huckapoo was but a concept in the mind of Brian Lukow, a producer who in the late 1990's helped create Dream Street, a boy band that was destined to be the next 'N Sync.

Dream Street's first record sold more than 750,000 copies, but the band broke up in 2002 after the boys' parents filed a lawsuit against Mr. Lukow and another producer. They accused them of creating an atmosphere harmful to minors, a claim that a judge ultimately found suspect.

An atmosphere harmful to minors? You betcha. Specifically, pornography. And even more specifically, an "adult sophisticated magazine" with the title -- wait for it -- "Just Come of Age."

Did somebody say best band ever?

[Update: In fairness to Lukow and his partner, I should make very clear that I eventually researched this accusation for a magazine article and found it to be wholly without merit.]

Update: So best!

From: "Brian Lukow" xxxxx@eProps.com
To: dradosh@yahoo.com
Date: Thu, 19 Aug 2004 19:58:59 -0400

pretty funny stuff.
just curious..
which are the songs that are "much worse"

Brian J. Lukow
Entertainment Properties, LLC

Previous entries: [1] [2] [3] [4] [5]

Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company
The New York Times
August 29, 2004 Sunday
Late Edition - Final
SECTION: Section 14LI; Column 1; Long Island Weekly Desk; Pg. 1

LENGTH: 1848 words

HEADLINE: Reprising the Spice Girls



FOR as long as either Lindsay Nyman or Brittney Segal can remember, each has warmed to the glare of stage lights and longed to become a star. Now, at the ripe old age of 14, both girls are well on their way to finding the fame they have craved.

On stage, they are Joey Thunders and Angel Sparks, members of Huckapoo, a five-girl band modeled on the Spice Girls that aspires to be the next big thing for the preteen set. Back home, though, at least until last year, Lindsay was just another student at Long Beach Middle School and Brittney blended right in at Jericho High.

Two of the other Huckapoo girls also come from the New York City area, one from New City, N.Y., and the other from Westport, Conn. The fifth comes from rural Pennsylvania.

Huckapoo spent the summer performing at camps in what amounts to a Borscht Belt circuit for 'tween youngsters who have outgrown Barney but are not quite mature enough for J. Lo. At each of the dozen camps where they performed, the girls were mobbed by enthusiastic fans who clamored for their autographs and greedily snatched up the group's promotional CD's. A few boys offered up their cellphone numbers, original poetry, rings and marriage proposals.

Even before Huckapoo began its camp tour, the group had already managed to wedge a toe into the world of pop stardom. A couple of the group's songs have been heard on the Disney Channel, and in June, Huckapoo was the opening act for Aaron Carter, a 'tween heartthrob, at a concert on Staten Island. And three of the girls made a list of stars and their favorite ice cream flavors in the latest issue of Pop Star!, a teen magazine, sharing space with the likes of Raven and Drake Bell.

When they perform, the girls exude a confidence that comes from years of voice and dance lessons and from public performances ranging from community theater to national tours of Broadway shows. But they also radiate a wholesome youthfulness that comes from the overwhelming sense that they are having so much fun onstage.

Although they admit they are missing many of the rituals of a ''normal'' childhood, like lazy days at the beach or afternoons hanging out at the local mall, the Huckapoo girls appear eager for what might come next.

Their parents also seem to be comfortable with the decisions they have made: all the years of auditions and tap lessons instead of soccer or field hockey practice, and trading school for private tutors so that Huckapoo can rehearse or perform five, sometimes even seven, days a week.

Brooke Mori, who plays PJ Bardot and at 13 is the youngest Huckapoo, said she was ''a little sad'' to be missing her freshman year in Westport this fall. ''But I'm more excited for this,'' she said.

Lindsay shared that sentiment and said, ''There are just so many things to look forward to.''

The camp shows, in many ways, were merely dress rehearsals for the group's first major show on a real stage with ticket-buying customers, on Oct. 8 at Town Hall in Manhattan. The girls will also continue recording songs for an album, scheduled to be released in January. And then there will be more trips to California in hopes of landing a movie or television deal.

''I figure she's got the rest of her life to be miserable in some job,'' said Lindsay's father, Bruce Nyman, the former city manager of Long Beach and now a top adviser to Thomas R. Suozzi, Nassau's county executive. ''We felt it was incumbent on us to let her try to get her dream, and at 14 years old, she's already living it.''

Mr. Nyman, who admits to being drawn to politics all his life, said Lindsay's Huckapoo experience ''is like if someone asked me if I wanted to work in the J.F.K. White House when I was 14 or if a Little League player was told he could play with the Yankees for a year. Is she happy and excited? Of course she is.''

Seven months ago, Huckapoo was but a concept in the mind of Brian Lukow, a producer who in the late 1990's helped create Dream Street, a boy band that was destined to be the next 'N Sync.

Dream Street's first record sold more than 750,000 copies, but the band broke up in 2002 after the boys' parents filed a lawsuit against Mr. Lukow and another producer. They accused them of creating an atmosphere harmful to minors, a claim that a judge ultimately found suspect.

''With Dream Street, the ship came in, and then the dock collapsed,'' Mr. Lukow said. ''No one won in that. We all lost.''

Today, only one of the five boys in the band, Jesse McCartney, has hit it big: he stars in the WB television drama, ''Summerland.''

When casting Huckapoo, Mr. Lukow took great care in interviewing the parents as well as the girls. ''I told them they could ask me whatever they wanted about Dream Street, but I had to know that they understood the commitment this was going to take,'' he said.

So far, he added, the girls and their parents have all gotten along remarkably well, and they have all adapted well to the vagaries of a performer's life. There are the days when a recording session is unexpectedly delayed for hours, the girls have nothing to pass the time but their iPods and crossword puzzles, and the session winds up running until midnight, or when a camp concert and autograph signing run late and the girls don't get home until 3 a.m.

During the school year, the girls would show up at a Manhattan studio five days a week to be tutored from 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. and then rehearse for five hours until 7:30 p.m., learning new songs and dance routines. On weekends, they would put in long hours at a recording studio.

Since February, they have recorded more than two dozen songs, many of them originals written by Mr. Lukow and the other songwriters who wrote for Dream Street. They have also taped a music video.

But the girls insist that none of this feels like work. ''It's all new because it's very different from the kinds of things we were doing before,'' said Brittany Lahm, 15, who plays Twiggy Stardom and is from New City, in Rockland County. ''Plus we're like five best friends.''

Because their schedules can be erratic, the girls often wind up sleeping over at one another's homes. ''I have toothbrushes at everybody's house,'' Brooke said.

Jordan Price, 15, who is from Hamburg, Pa., and plays Groovy Tuesday in the band, said that it's fortunate that all the members are about the same size. ''We don't have to pack ever because we just wear everybody's clothes,'' she said.

The target audience for Huckapoo is boys and girls from 6 to 14. Each band member plays a character, a type that might be found in any middle school lunchroom.

Joey Thunders is punk and favors fishnet stockings and dog collars.

Twiggy Stardom is the preppy cheerleader.

PJ Bardot is into hip-hop and rap music.

Groovy Tuesday is a 1960's-style hippie who wears tie-dye and ripped jeans.

Angel Sparks is a biker girl, a character that Mr. Lukow admits is a little problematic given her age, but his idea was to have someone who wore black and leather. Brittney doesn't ride a motorcycle but she has molded Angel into someone with her own distinct style.

Mr. Lukow chose the name Huckapoo, he said, because he wanted something that didn't sound ''too girly'' but also didn't mean anything and could become a topic of conversation. It also helped that 1-800-HUCKAPOO was available; so was www.huckapoo.com.

And Huckapoo, he added, does not derive from Huk-A-Poo, the 70's clothing line.

Mr. Lukow said that he auditioned about 200 girls last fall and after a second round of callbacks, he had his cast of five. Each of the girls had an agent, professional training and some professional experience under her belt.

Lindsay had portrayed the Little Girl in the national tour of ''Ragtime'' when she was 9. Coincidentally, Brittney had played the same role the next year, when she was 10. Brooke had performed with the Kirov Ballet at the Metropolitan Opera House and was also in the national tour of Disney's ''Bear in the Big Blue House.'' Jordan was in the ''American Girls Revue'' at American Girl Place, the Manhattan retail store for the popular line of dolls. And Brittany had done several television commercials, including one for Dimetapp, Barbie Generation Girl and Nix lice shampoo (she played the friend of the girl who had lice).

The girls' parents say that they have always encouraged their daughters' aspirations. ''Brittney always wanted to sing and always wanted to be on TV,'' said her father, Mitchell Segal, who runs an insurance and employee benefits company in Garden City. ''So we took her to singing lessons, then to acting lessons, and then got her an agent. This is just what she has always wanted. She is one of the most focused 14-year-olds you will find.''

Each of the girls had some trouble getting used to the idea that they had to adopt the personalities of their characters whenever they were in public.

But early on, Mr. Lukow laid down the law. ''I told them this is not a democracy and this is the way it is,'' he said. ''The girls have to be larger than life, and they have to buy into these characters if Huckapoo is going to succeed as a business for us. And God bless them, because after our talk, they got it.''

The idea of five very different girls coming together to make music and sing about the things that most young girls care about -- boys, crushes, boys, being misunderstood, and boys -- seems to resonate with their target audience. ''I like them because they're original, and I can relate to their songs,'' said Hillary Rapport, 13, of Harrison, N.Y., who attended Huckapoo's last summer concert, at Indian Head Camp in Lookout, Pa. ''You don't really see girls our age singing, so it's kind of cool.''

Jeremy Ferris, 13, of Syosset was also in the Indian Head audience. ''They have a great sound, and I liked their dance moves and how they move together,'' he said. He added that he thought Huckapoo appealed more to boys than to girls. ''You know,'' he said and then shrugged and struggled for words. ''They're cute,'' he finally said.

Mr. Lukow would not talk about salaries or expenses. But to make Huckapoo a success, he and his partner will probably have to lay out millions to get the exposure they will need. Their expenses for the last seven months are probably hitting the high six figures.

Each girl collects a salary, and operating costs include everything from private tutors and studio rentals to hotel bills and the fee for participating in Camplified, the Manhattan company that produced the camp tour.

''I push the girls hard because basically the entire business is based on five girls becoming superstars, or the business fails,'' Mr. Lukow said. ''I guess that makes me nuts, but there's no way to say it differently. They have to be nothing short of amazing.''

The girls' parents say that Huckapoo may have a chance at success because the girls are talented, the concept is different, and Mr. Lukow seems to have the right show-business connections. ''But even if they don't become the next Spice Girls,'' Mr. Nyman said, ''it's been a heck of a ride for Lindsay and the other girls. We'll have no regrets.''

Posted by Daniel Radosh


A Big huckawelcome back to the huckasphere!

"Stuart said in his affidavit that the executives encouraged the teens "to have sexual relations with teenage girls" and offered them alcohol."

That's Huckafunny!!

Now you're busted, man. You have to not only list those songs that are "much worse" but explain why, point-by-point. Can't do it, can you? That's because Huckapoo RULEZ!

While I will not dispute you vis-a-vis Huckapoo's ruling status in the broadest sense, I was able to cite two ballads -- Someone Sent Me An Angel and, um, something about Love -- as having decent melodies but insipid lyrics and instrumentation.

I couched this in the most insanely flattering terms, of course, but I still have not heard back from Mr. Lukow. I fear he read this latest post and was no longer willing to be such a good sport about my Huckafixation.

I do so want to attend the concert and blog it IRT. Looking for a sponsor....

Dear Chirs i think you are so cool and i want to be just like you and if you evey wnated to start a new band up i would come from the uk and come to where you are adn live my famly just to be with you becasue you are like my brother thank you for reading this and could you help me set my own band up thank you so much Liam Dunham


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