In the 1990s, Lou Pearlman was on top of the pop music world — as the manager of both ’NSYNC and the Backstreet Boys. But in the 2000s, his empire fell amid fraud charges, and just last year, he died in federal custody. Now, however, Lou’s story will live on, thanks to a limited TV series in development.
Inspired by the New Kids on the Block, Lou founded Trans Continental Records and formed a fledgling boy band called the Backstreet Boys. Following BSB’s massive success, Lou somehow got lightning to strike twice. Following the same formula, he created ‘NSYNC.
Unfortunately, his runaway wealth was built on a house of cards. In 2006, investigators discovered Lou had committed fraud, bilking investors out of at least $300 million, according to Billboard. Lou fled to Indonesia, where he was arrested in 2007. In 2008, he was sentenced to 25 years in prison for money laundering, conspiracy, and making false statements during a bankruptcy hearing.
It gets worse: Lou may have sexually assaulted his employees, as well. “We would hear things, for sure,” ‘NSYNC’s Lance Bass told Billboard in 2014. “He would always have young boy limo drivers for Trans Continental Records. Those limo drivers would always be put into different boy bands. Then I’d hear rumors that he would molest the boys before they would even get into the groups. I don’t know how much of that is true, but to me, where there’s smoke, there’s fire.”
Of course, Lou only served a fraction of his prison sentence. He died of cardiac arrest in August 2016. “He might not have been a stand-up businessman, but I wouldn’t be doing what I love today without his influence,” Lance tweeted. Added ‘NSYNC bandmate Justin Timberlake, “I hope he found some peace. God bless and RIP, Lou Pearlman.”
Conspicuously quiet, however, was Backstreet Boys’ Nick Carter — whose mother, Jane, had previously spoken out about Lou’s alleged sexual crimes. “Certain things happened, and it almost destroyed our family,” she told Vanity Fair in 2007. “I tried to warn everyone. I tried to warn all the mothers … The financial [scandal] is the least of his injustices.”
Now Lou’s story is headed for the small screen. Songwriters Desmond Child and Andreas Carlsson, who wrote hits for both bands, will produce the series — basing it on that same 2007 Vanity Fair article and the 2008 crime thriller The Hit Charade by Bryan Burrough. It’s sure to be a scintillating show since Lou was, to borrow a BSB song title, “Larger Than Life,” to borrow the title of a BSB song — and because he apparently considered himself above the law, too.