Lance Bass’ space voyage was at risk while Hollywood dealmakers and Russian bureaucrats squabbled over payment for the pop idol’s $20 million trip.
“We have a contract, but we don’t have any money,” Russian Aerospace Agency spokesman Konstantin Kreidenko said.
Bass hopes to be a member of the crew scheduled to travel on a Russian Soyuz rocket to the international space station in October.
But the deadline for the ‘N Sync singer to make a payment to secure his spot was Tuesday, according to a Russian space agency official who spoke on condition of anonymity. Kreidenko would not confirm that.
David Krieff, a Los Angeles television producer who plans a series about Bass’ trip and is gathering sponsors, blamed the problems on paperwork snags – and Russian bureaucrats.
“In my mind it’s a lot of talk and posturing. That is their style and I can appreciate it,” Krieff said Tuesday.
“This is 100 percent going forward.”
Krieff declined to discuss whether a payment was due Tuesday, saying there was a nondisclosure agreement. He singled out space agency spokesman Sergei Gorbunov as a vocal critic of Bass’ voyage. Gorbunov called such comments “foolish.”
“But should he fly for free?” Gorbunov asked on Tuesday. “Perhaps he (Krieff) thinks I am against the mission because I keep saying that he needs to pay.”
Krieff acknowledged there was a delay in transferring funds to Russia and said it was because he had received only an e-mailed copy of the contract. A signed paper version was required to secure insurance, he said.
Bass had no comment on the matter, a spokeswoman said Tuesday in Los Angeles.
The 23-year-old would become the youngest person, the third paying tourist and the first pop star in space.
He has been training at Russia’s Star City cosmonaut center outside Moscow since July. Cameras are recording his progress for the TV show.
“He’s doing beautifully, he’s kicking butt in every way. He’s totally dedicated and everybody loves him there,” Krieff said.
Things are looking rosy financially as well, he said. He’s lined up three sponsors so far who have committed between $5 million and $15 million each, he said.
Although he declined to identify them yet, he said they include a “huge soft drink” manufacturer and a conglomerate “like Procter & Gamble.” He said a U.S. TV network, also unidentified, was attached to the series and that the program had been sold to 40 other countries.
“Celebrity Mission: Lance Bass” would include six one-hour episodes showing the singer training for the voyage and a two-hour special showing the launch and Bass in space. The series would end with an episode about Bass’ return to Earth and a concert, perhaps held a week after he’s released from post-space quarantine, Krieff said.
Krieff’s Destiny Productions is working with Amsterdam-based MirCorp and the William Morris Agency on the project. Both Bass and Krieff, whose credits include a Fox special on skating rivals Tonya Harding and Nancy Kerrigan, are represented by the agency.
The cost of the week-and-a-half-long space trip is in the $20 million range. Businessmen Dennis Tito of California and Mark Shuttleworth of South Africa have paid to journey to the space station.
Bass’ journey could be just the beginning of other “Celebrity Mission” chapters, Krieff said.
“I have 15 other celebrities, huge ‘A’ and ‘B’ list celebrities, that are wanting to do exactly what we’re doing. It’s a dream come true.”