Student stars as boy band member on MTV
By Tara Higginbotham
While many college students may dream of the glitz and glamour that comes with stardom, one UF student experienced it firsthand when he was chosen to star on MTVs Becoming, the show that turns ordinary fans into their favorite artists.
Chris DiTomaso, a UF freshman, was selected from thousands of applicants to recreate the *NSYNC video Tearin Up My Heart as group member JC Chasez.
DiTomaso, a self-taught dancer whose only previous experience with performing was in high school theater and choir, said he sent a video of himself to MTV over the summer.
I did this *NSYNC performance on the last day of high school and my friends told me I should think about sending in a video to MTV. So I looked online at the casting call page and figured out what I needed to do, he said.
DiTomaso said MTV contacted him and invited him to Los Angeles for an audition but his flight on Sept. 11 was grounded in Dallas.
I was stuck there for one week, he said. After I got back, I didnt hear a word from MTV for two months. I thought maybe they just werent interested anymore.
MTV had not forgotten about DiTomaso.
The cable network contacted his friends and family to set up a surprise announcement of his selection for the show. His roommate, UF freshman Mike Brander, had to keep it a secret for several days and helped pack his friends bags for the surprise trip.
On Nov. 13, a crew from MTV arrived outside Beaty Towers, DiTomasos dorm, and shocked him with the news. From there, the group drove to Sarasota to surprise another person also selected for the show, then caught a flight to Los Angeles to join the other three people selected for the makeshift boy band.
We first went to a dance studio to meet the choreographer who was going to teach us the dance moves for Tearin Up My Heart, DiTomaso said.
While we were there we saw this video where Joey and Lance congratulated us for getting on the show. Then we learned the dance for about five hours, and after that the clothes designer came out and showed us all the clothes for the video.
After a long day of dancing and preparing for the video, DiTomaso and the four others were treated to a night of fun.
That night they brought us to the Staples Center, which is where the [Los Angeles] Clippers play, DiTomaso said. We got to go out on the court and meet all the players, and the scoreboard even said Welcome Becoming *NSYNC. We got to go in the locker room and meet the coach, too.
DiTomaso said the following day was the hardest because that was when they shot the video.
They woke us up at 5 a.m. and took us down to this old warehouse to shoot the video, he said. We were shooting for 19 hours.
He said he got another taste of what its like to be famous when the editor of Seventeen magazine asked for an interview with all of them during the shoot.
DiTomaso said being part of the show was a real learning experience.
This was a real eye-opener, he said. I got to see how a star really lives, and I realized its a lot of work. Theres no time to yourself ever, and theres always a camera in your face. Youve got to respect it.
DiTomaso said word of the show has already made him somewhat of a celebrity in his hometown, Cape Coral.
I went to pick up my little sister from school while I was at home one time and all these 14-year-old girls were just running up to me, he said. It was crazy.
The Becoming episode featuring DiTomaso will air Jan. 5 at 8:30 p.m. on MTV.
Billboard Awards review and winners list
The 2001 Billboard Music Awards at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas on Tuesday (Dec. 4) was a fiesta for R. Kelly, who led all finalists with six awards.
The R&B crooner walked away with wins for R&B/Hip-Hop Artist of the Year, Male R&B/Hip-Hop Artist of the Year, R&B/Hip-Hop Album of the Year (Tp-2.com), R&B/Hip-Hop Single of the Year ("Fiesta," featuring Jay-Z), and R&B/Hip-Hop Albums Artist of the Year.
Close behind R. Kelly were country superstar Tim McGraw and R&B trio Destiny's Child, with five awards each. McGraw went home with nods for Country Artist of the Year, Male Country Artist of the Year, Country Album of the Year (Greatest Hits), Country Albums Artist of the Year, and Country Single Artist of the Year.
Destiny's Child's five awards extended beyond the group's R&B home category. The trio grabbed wins for Artist of the Year, Artist of the Year - Duo/Group, Hot 100 Singles Artist of the Year, Hot 100 Singles Artist of the Year -- Duo/Group, and Soundtrack Single of the Year ("Independent Woman Part I" from Charlie's Angels).
Actor-comedian Bernie Mac hosted the 2001 awards and kicked things off with one of the most hysterical opening monologues in recent memory. Mac went over the rules of the show, which included a plea to winners to "Thank the fans, thank the record label, thank the Lord, then sit your ass down!"
The majority of the show itself was rather run of the mill, save for a few poignant moments and memorable performances. Britney Spears' show-opening performance of "I'm a Slave 4 U" amid the fountains of the Bellagio Hotel was exciting to look at, but the teen star's lip-syncing wore thin.
'NSync was lowered from the rafters on a mini-stage for its performance of "Gone," a stunt born from similar maneuvers performed on the group's last two tours. Alicia Keys, Eve, and Angie Stone joined forces on Stone's "Brotha," a rare moment highlighting some of the best female R&B and hip-hop the music industry currently has to offer.
One performance that fell short of expectations, however, was the all-star rendition of Marvin Gaye's "What's Going On." The hearts of the artists were in the right place, but several forgot to do their homework. The whole thing seemed chaotic, with a few artists (among them Destiny's Child) forgetting which members were supposed to sing what lines.
Several special awards were given out at the ceremony, including an Artist Achievement Award to Janet Jackson, and awards to 'NSync for owning the biggest one-week sales for an album in 2001 (Celebrity) and rapper DMX, who became the first artist in history to debut its first four albums at No. 1 on The Billboard 200.
The most coveted special award, however, went to John Mellencamp, this year's recipient of the Century Award. After a heartfelt introduction by Matthew McConaughey, Mellencamp emerged and summed his career up this way: "I've always tried to be honest, and I have never, ever kissed anybody's ass."
Here is a partial list of the 2001 Billboard Music Awards:
Artist of the Year: Destiny's Child
Female Artist of the Year: Alicia Keys
Male Artist of the Year: Shaggy
Hot 100 Singles Artist of the Year: Destiny's Child
New Artist of the Year: Lifehouse
Hot 100 Single of the Year: Lifehouse, "Hanging by a Moment"
R&B/Hip-Hop Artist of the Year: R. Kelly
Male R&B/Hip-Hop Artist of the Year: R. Kelly
Female R&B/Hip-Hop Artist of the Year: Jill Scott
Country Artist of the Year: Tim McGraw
Country Album of the Year: Tim McGraw, Greatest Hits
Modern Rock Artist of the Year: Linkin Park
Modern Rock Single of the Year: Incubus, "Drive"
Rock Artist of the Year: Godsmack
Rap Artist of the Year: Lil' Romeo
Rap Single of the Year: Lil' Romeo, "My Baby"
-- Kevin Raub
*NSYNC Game for Game Boy(R) Color Now Available at Retail
BEVERLY, Mass., Dec. 5 /PRNewswire/ -- *NSYNC fans can now hit the road with their favorite band! The *NSYNC Get to the Show(TM) game for Game Boy(R) Color from Infogrames, Inc. (Nasdaq: IFGM) lets players travel with their favorite band and help them get ready for their concert.
You're on the road with the #1 band in America and there's a lot to do before a show! With the *NSYNC Get to the Show game, it's your job to keep the band happy by helping them get ready for the big night. Grab the keys to the limo and run errands, keep hotel guests quiet so the guys can get a good night's sleep, make their favorite burgers and even play a quick game of "hackey sack" to warm up before the show! And just like regular guys, the band has errands they need to do too! Take them to the post office, gym or florist and help them get it all done!
Keep your fan rating high throughout the game and you'll unlock the ultimate reward -- creating your own *NSYNC show! Put together some cool dance moves, pump up the music, set the mood with lighting - watch the band perform your show!
"*NSYNC is the hottest band in the country and we're thrilled to work with them again to deliver another game their fans can enjoy," said Petrina McPhee, director of kids marketing for Infogrames' Beverly studio. "Their fans would love to be on the road with the guys and with the *NSYNC Get to the Show game, they can feel like they really are."
Developed by Stunt Puppy Entertainment, Inc., *NSYNC Get to the Show is rated 'E' for Everyone and is available at most major retail outlets for an estimated retail price of $29.99. *NSYNC Get to the Show for Game Boy Color is also compatible with Nintendo(R)'s Game Boy(R) Advance.
Currently available at retail is the *NSYNC Hotline Fantasy Phone & CD-ROM Game which includes five games that allow fans to connect with the band one- on-one. Developed with input from the band members themselves, this game allows fans to experience the band's real voices, view never-before-seen video footage and learn new trivia. The interactive phone acts as the game's controller and allows players to receive special voicemail messages from the band and to customize it with their name, birthday and bedtime. The *NSYNC Hotline Fantasy Phone & CD-ROM Game is currently available at retail for an estimated price of $39.99.
Additional information on the band can be found at www.nsync.com.
Global AIDS Pandemic as a #1 Priority for US Politicians at the Billboard Awards
Hot on the heels of its award for "Best Collaboration" at the VH1 Awards, Artists Against AIDS Worldwide is taking its call for urgent action to The Billboard Bash and Music Awards, to mark World AIDS Day. The message to the general public and politicians is clear: We have the know-how and the wealth to save each African child who dies every minute of AIDS. All we lack is the political will to put the money where it can save lives now.
"Americans are starting to wake up to a whole world out there to which we have closed our eyes in the past. Since September 11th we know we can never do that again. We have started asking about 'What's Going On' in other countries. We are learning that AIDS is destroying lives and hope for millions of children -- but we are also learning that we can do something about it. Americans are a generous people -- so let's take this opportunity to make a huge impact -- by encouraging our government to give a little more of our great wealth to the world's poor to fight AIDS," says Justin Timberlake of *NSYNC.
Justin was joined by Alicia Keyes, Eve, Gwen Stefani, and partners from the three key charity projects that Artists Against AIDS Worldwide is supporting with proceeds from the sale of the "What's Going On" single. The partners are: The Global AIDS Alliance, which leads advocacy campaigns in the USA; the Hope for African Children Initiative (HACI); and the Africa Alive! YouthAIDS Initiative (AA!YA). These initiatives need more cash to function effectively and save more lives. It is initiatives like HACI and AA!YA that the US government could effectively spend more money on now. That is why the Stop Global AIDS campaign is asking for urgent government action through donating more dollars to fight AIDS, deeper debt relief for AIDS-affected poor countries, and wider access to life-saving treatment for all those afflicted with AIDS.
On current spending levels another three million Africans will die of AIDS next year and by the end of the decade there will be 40 million AIDS orphans in Africa. This is threatening to destabilize the African continent. This in turn could threaten global security. For the sake of African children and our own we cannot sit back and let this happen.