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Lou Pearlman: Making The Archies

Justin, JC and Lance, meet your newest competition: Archie, Jughead and Veronica. That’s right, the man behind such pop creations as the Backstreet Boys, ‘N Sync and O-Town is moving onto a different type of two-dimensional character: Boy-band mogul Lou Pearlman says he’s teaming up with Archie Entertainment to launch real-life music groups based on The Archies and Josie and the Pussycats comic books.

With the help of former BMG President Strauss Zelnick, Pearlman’s Trans Continental Entertainment is staging a nationwide search for young musicians to become the next Archie, Jughead, Veronica and Betty, in preparation for a new album, tour and TV show based on Riverdale High’s finest rockers.

“We’re going to bring Archie into the next century,” Pearlman tells E! Online. “Musically, it’s going to capture today’s pop-culture market…The Archies will be able to tour, and I think it will be tremendous.”

Specifically, Pearlman’s hunting for young people who can sing, dance and play their own instruments for the new project, which he describes as “more contemporary pop and pop-rock.” (And yes, “if they do look like Archie and Jughead that would help,” he adds.)

The talent search is one of several projects being launched this year by Archie Entertainment to help celebrate the comic book’s 60-year anniversary.

Of course, if this all sounds oddly familiar, it should: The Archies, first introduced in the 1940s, were already turned into a hit cartoon and chart-topping band in the late 1960s, appearing on CBS and scoring a number one hit with the song “Sugar, Sugar.” Thanks to a group of studio musicians enlisted by ’60s bubblegum pop mogul Don Kirshner, the Archies’ catchy, saccharine-friendly tune sold six million copies and even knocked the Rolling Stones off the top of the charts.

While some might fear that Lou Pearlman is now poised to turn the Archies into, say, R-Town, at least one of the original band members says he supports the idea.

“I know Lou Pearlman…and I think they’ll do a real good job,” says Ron Dante, the L.A.-based singer-producer who originally sang Archies hits like “Sugar, Sugar” and “Jingle Jangle” during the band’s cartoon heyday.

“It was a good job for me at the time, and I couldn’t be happier that people connected with it,” Dante says. “Archie, Reggie, Betty, Veronica and Jughead are good role models, and the country could use a little good, positive pop music right now with all the terrible things we’ve been through.”

For his part, Pearlman says he plans to ask Dante to be involved with the creation of this latest Archies incarnation. It’s only appropriate considering one of the new group’s first priorities will be recording a remake of 1969’s chart-topper “Sugar, Sugar.”

As for Josie and the Pussycats, Pearlman says he also will be searching for girls to lead that band. The timing isn’t exactly perfect: Last year’s movie version of the comic book scored decent reviews for its pop-punk soundtrack, but the film starring Rachael Leigh Cook and Tara Reid bombed at the box office.

Pearlman, however, says this latest version of the Pussycats will be more “Spice Girls-meets-Britney Spears.”

“I think [the makers of the film] were more interested in making a movie, and we’re more interested in making a show and music that will last,” he says.

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