• Call me “the Fourth Child” or “the Sixth Spice”
• With Mandy Moore, bowling for column lines
• More teen spirit than one man can take
I mingled with Destiny’s Child at a Grammy Awards show or an MTV Video Music Awards show in the late ‘90s. I understand the young woman to my right in the picture below dissolved the group and went on to other things. With some success, apparently.
As a correspondent with an emphasis on covering pop music at CNN, I did my share of interviews with some of the biggest female stars and a raft of newcomers with bright futures. Janet Jackson was a quickie. Just a brief few questions backstage at an awards show.
My Madonna moment lasted a bit longer. She was promoting “The Next Best Thing,” a 2000 film in which she starred with Rupert Everett and Benjamin Bratt. Everett played a gay man who agreed to make a baby with Madonna’s character. Five years later, she falls in love with a straight guy, played by Bratt, and wants to move out of state. But the child’s father objects and there’s a nasty custody dispute. I talked with her about how the screenplay might have mirrored her breakup with real-life boyfriend Carlos Leon and the impact on their child, Lourdes. She was candid about it and was, on the whole, a pleasant interview.
I interviewed Barbra Streisand in a similar setting, a media junket for “Prince of Tides,” the film adaptation of the Pat Conroy novel that Streisand produced, directed and starred in. Having enjoyed most of Conroy’s work, I was pleased to get the assignment. I hope “Babs” was able to sense my enthusiasm; I was always afraid of embarrassingly fawning over artists and works I admired. I know I did it more than once. In this case, though, it was the Conroy connection, not Streisand, I was most excited about. In fact, I noticed in the days leading up to the junket, the talent bookers at Showbiz Today, my fellow correspondents, even my executive producer, all seemed more excited about my upcoming interview with the Funny Girl than I was.
At its conclusion, one of my takeaways was how great she looked. Since this two-camera shoot was run by Columbia Pictures, the camera on Streisand was set on a soft focus that was obvious when compared to the camera on the interviewer. She was just 48 at the time! Soft focus not necessary!
The 1990s were a golden age of teen idol creation. Think of the boy bands, several of which I had to report on. And there was a whole passel of teenage girls popping right out of puberty into pop stardom. I interviewed Britney Spears, Jessica Simpson, Mandy Moore and. . . .more. Don’t ask me for details; they have faded like Teen Spirit. I do remember my producer learning from a publicist that Mandy Moore liked to bowl. So we shot her interview at a bowling alley in Chelsea and then rolled a few frames of us rolling a few frames. I don’t remember a thing about our match, but I’m sure I probably sucked. I could never convert spares to save my life.
The plethora of ‘90s boy bands prompted a pair of British music managers to conduct a search to find five girls for a girl band to balance the musical scale. The lucky birds plucked from auditions became The Spice Girls. With catchy hits, clever videos and felicitous nicknames, Posh, Scary, Ginger, Baby and Sporty Spice gave John, Paul, George and Ringo a brief run for their money. They generated a reported $75 million a year at the peak of their international success. Who didn’t wannabe a Spice Girl? Not me.