Music Article

No Strings Attached

Florida investigates boy-band mogul Lou Pearlman. He allegedly charged aspiring entertainers for Web listings without hooking them up with jobs

Lou Pearlman is known for turning kids from Orlando into teen pop stars, most notably, the Backstreet Boys and 'N Sync. So it's no wonder that hundreds of aspiring stars would sign on with Pearlman's firm to find gigs. But the state of Florida has received hundreds of complaints that Pearlman's Trans Continental Talent, Inc. took their money and then did nothing more than post their headshots online. Now, the Associated Press reports, the state has launched a probe of his business in response to the complaints.

Florida's assistant attorney general, Jackie Dowd, told AP that, since the investigation was launched in August, it's turned up ''hundreds of potential violations'' but has found no one who actually landed employment through the website. The aspiring models and actors paid up to $1,500 apiece, AP reports. The website does have a disclaimer warning that ''chances of becoming a superstar in this industry are slim,'' but it claims to have ties to more than 1,000 booking agencies and other clients.

In a statement, Pearlman said he was unaware of the probe. He also said that Trans Continental was exempt from Florida law prohibiting talent agencies from charging upfront fees because his firm is merely a ''scouting'' agency that discovers talent without marketing it. Pearlman has had many legal run-ins with his charges over the years; BSB, 'N Sync, and LFO all sued him to get out of their contracts. He was also investigated, and ultimately cleared, by the Florida Labor Department last year over allegations of child-labor violations involving the group Take 5.

Originally posted Feb 17, 2003