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Lance Bass

James Lance Bass (born May 4, 1979) is an American pop singer, actor, film and television producer, and author. He grew up in Mississippi and rose to fame as the bass singer for the American pop boy band 'N Sync. 'N Sync's success led Bass to experiment with film and television, primarily as an actor and a producer. Bass' acting career is most noted for his starring role in the 2001 film On The Line, which his company, Bacon & Eggs, also produced. Bass later formed a second production company, Lance Bass Productions, as well as a now-defunct music management company, Free Lance Entertainment, a joint venture with Mercury Records.

After completion of 'N Sync's Pop Odyssey Tour, Bass moved to Star City, Russia in much publicized pursuit of a seat on a Soyuz space capsule. Bass was certified by both NASA and the Russian Space Program after several months of cosmonaut training, and planned to join the TMA-1 mission to the International Space Station in October of that year. However, after his financial sponsors backed out, Bass was denied a seat on the mission.

In July 2006, Bass revealed that he is gay in a cover story for People magazine. He was awarded the Human Rights Campaign Visibility Award in October 2006, and released an autobiography, Out of Sync, in October 2007, which debuted on The New York Times Best Seller list.

Bass is currently a contestant on Season 7 of Dancing With The Stars, and is paired with swing dance champ Lacey Schwimmer.

Early life

James Lance Bass was born in Laurel, Mississippi to James Irvin Bass, Jr., a medical technologist, and Diane (née Haddock), a middle school mathematics teacher. Along with his older sister, Stacy, Bass grew up in nearby Ellisville, Mississippi, and was raised as a Southern Baptist. Bass has described his family as devoutly Christian and conservative and has said that his childhood was "extremely happy". As a young boy, Bass developed an interest in space, and at age 9 traveled to Cape Canaveral, Florida with his father to watch his first live space shuttle launch. Of this experience Bass said, "I was certain from then on that that my future was to be involved with space." Shortly after, Bass attended space camp in Titusville, Florida, and aspired to attend college and study engineering, with the hope that he would one day work for NASA.

When Bass was 10 years old, his father was transferred to a different hospital, and the family moved to Clinton, Mississippi. Bass began singing in his Baptist church choir, and was encouraged to audition for local performance groups by his childhood best friend, Darren Dale, the youngest child of former longtime Mississippi Insurance Commissioner George Dale. Bass joined the Mississippi Show Stoppers, a state-wide music group sponsored by the Mississippi Agriculture and Forestry Museum, and the Attaché Show Choir, a national-award-winning competitive show choir group at Clinton High School. He was also a member of a seven-man vocal group named Seven Card Stud, which competed at state fairs and performed at several social and political events for Senator Trent Lott.

At Clinton High School, Bass was elected vice president of his junior class, and has said that he performed well in math and science. However, Bass later stated that his primary focus during high school was singing, and when looking back, he remembers "hardly anything" about academia.

Music career

Success with 'N Sync

In 1995, during his junior year of high school, Bass received a call from Justin Timberlake and his mother, Lynn Harless, who asked Bass if he would be interested in auditioning for a pop group that Timberlake was a part of. After the group's original bass singer, Jason Galasso, had quit, Timberlake's vocal coach (who had worked with Bass during his time as a Mississippi Show Stopper) recommended Bass as a replacement. Bass was accepted into the group, which was later named 'N Sync, after auditioning in front of the other bandmembers and Lou Pearlman, and soon left school to move to Orlando, Florida and rehearse full-time. Bass has said that he did not know how to dance before he joined 'N Sync, and therefore found much of the group's choreography difficult to learn. According to an episode of VH1's Driven, Jan Boltz, president of BMG's German division, offered 'N Sync a recording contract under the condition that they replace Bass, whose dancing, he felt, "wasn't at the same level as all the others". However, the other members of the group refused to accept the contract without Bass, and the group's manager, Johnny Wright, convinced Bolz that Bass' dancing would quickly improve. Bolz conceded, and the group soon moved to Munich, Germany to record their first album with BMG. 'N Sync began extensive touring in Europe, and Bass's mother quit her job to tour with the group as a chaperone, as Bass was still a minor.

After gaining significant notability in Europe, 'N Sync was signed to American record label RCA in 1997. The group's first single, "I Want You Back" began receiving major radio play in the United States, and 'N Sync soon found themselves becoming an "overnight sensation", a period which Bass describes in his autobiography as "the death of my own innocence". Along with increasing fame and recognition in the United States the band also experienced a highly publicized legal battle with Pearlman, due to what the group believed were illicit business practices on his part. 'N Sync sued Pearlman and his record company, Trans Continental, for defrauding the group of more than 50% of their earnings, rather than his original promise of only receiving one-sixth of the profits. The group threatened to leave and sign with Jive Records, which prompted Pearlman and RCA to countersue 'N Sync for $150 million US, citing breach of contract. The injunction was thrown out of court and, after winning back their earnings, 'N Sync signed with Jive. Bass has been estranged from Pearlman ever since.

In March 2000, 'N Sync released No Strings Attached, which became the fastest-selling record of all time, selling 1.1 million copies in its first day of release. In 2001, the group followed up with their Celebrity album, which scored the second highest first-week album sales ever, trumped only by the group's previous album. 'N Sync went on to sell over 56 million records worldwide. In 2002, the group announced that they would be taking a "hiatus", during which Timberlake began to record solo material. 'N Sync has not recorded new material since, and Bass has stated that he feels the group has officially disbanded.

In 2007, Bass stated that he had faith Timberlake would return after six months off to record another album with 'N Sync, and that he felt betrayed by Timberlake's 2004 decision to pursue his solo career instead. Bass has also said that he has little hope for a reunion, since Timberlake has "made it clear that he wouldn't be interested in discussing another album any time soon." Despite these statements, Bass has denied that he harbors any ill feelings towards Timberlake, saying,

At that time... it did feel like betrayal. I felt heartbroken. All these emotions went through me. Today, I’m really happy, and Justin and I are really great friends. I don’t hate him at all. And I understand what he was going through, and it was as hard for him as it was for any of us.

Free Lance Entertainment

In 2000, Bass formed a music management company named Free Lance Entertainment, which was a joint venture with Mercury Nashville, a division of Mercury Records. Vowing to keep the company "a strictly family-run operation", Bass employed his parents and sister as talent scouts, and recruited childhood friend and aspiring country singer Meredith Edwards for the company's first release. Edwards began touring with 'N Sync as an opening act in the fall of 2000, and Bass teamed up with MTV to hold a nationwide talent search for more artists later that year. However, Free Lance soon folded after disappointing sales of Edwards's debut album, Reach.

Film, television and theater

Acting career

In 2000, Bass guest-starred on the WB drama series 7th Heaven, playing Rick Palmer, a love interest for Beverly Mitchell's character, Lucy. The following year, while 'N Sync was in the midst of recording Celebrity, Bass received his first starring role in the 2001 motion picture On The Line. Bass played Kevin, a man who falls in love with a woman on a Chicago train and begins a search to find her again. The film was produced by Bass's production company, A Happy Place (later renamed Bacon & Eggs), and featured appearances by Jerry Stiller, Al Green, Bon Jovi guitarist Richie Sambora, former WWE wrestler Chyna, and Bass's bandmates Timberlake and Kirkpatrick. The film also featured a soundtrack which included previously unreleased songs by 'N Sync and Britney Spears. Bass collaborated with Joey Fatone, Mandy Moore, Christian Burns and True Vibe (as the "On The Line Allstars") for the film's theme song, "On The Line".

Despite heavy marketing towards 'N Sync's teen fans, the film was a commercial failure, grossing only $4.2 million US domestically despite its $10 million US budget. The film, along with Bass's acting, was also poorly received by critics. Bass later said that he felt the film's success was greatly hindered by its release date, which came one week after the World Trade Center attacks of September 11, 2001. In his 2007 autobiography, Bass wrote, "That was it - our film was finished... once the country went to war, there was no way our film was going to be on anyone's top-priority list."

After On The Line, Bass appeared in Zoolander and Wes Craven's Cursed as himself, and played a wedding singer in I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry. Bass has also lent his voice to several animated television programs, such as Robot Chicken and Disney's Kim Possible and Higglytown Heroes. In the video game realm, Bass voiced the Final Fantasy VII character Sephiroth in Kingdom Hearts. On August 14, 2007, Bass began a six-month stint playing Corny Collins in the Broadway musical Hairspray, coinciding with the play's five year stage anniversary. Bass ended his run in Hairspray on January 6, 2008. Lance has also made an appearance in the movie Tropic Thunder

Producing career

In January 2001, Bass formed his first film production company, A Happy Place, with film producers Rich Hull, Wendy Thorlakson and Joe Anderson. The company was geared towards family-friendly films, and received the Movieguide award for "Excellence in Family-Oriented Programming" for its first feature film, On The Line. After On The Line, A Happy Place changed its name to Bacon & Eggs and produced its second feature film, Lovewrecked, in 2005. The film debuted on the ABC Family Channel in January 2007, and starred Amanda Bynes, Chris Carmack and Jamie-Lynn Sigler, with Bass in a minor role.

Bass later formed a separate production company named Lance Bass Productions. On May 14, 2007, Brian Graden announced that Lance Bass Productions will be working with the LOGO network in executive producing a reality television show about the music business. It has been reported that the show will focus on the creation and development of an all-gay boy band. In 2008, Bass co-produced The Grand, and Bass's company is reported to be developing a music docudrama about the life of rock bands on tour.

Spaceflight plans

In August 2002, Bass entered cosmonaut training in Star City, Russia. Bass was originally supposed to be the host of a space competition show to be entitled "The Big Mission", in which several contestants would go through rigorous training in order to win a seat on a Russian Soyuz space capsule. However, the game show concept fell apart when the producers of the show decided it would be a much better idea to shoot a documentary of a celebrity actually training and going into space, and airing it on a major network. The producers came up with the idea of using Bass when, while sitting with a friend and discussing the space project, the friend's daughter shouted out, "Lance Bass wants to go into space!" The girl, who was an 'N Sync fan, learned of Bass' lifelong dream of space travel when she read it in an online chat, and suggested Bass to the producers.

In order to be admitted into training, Bass agreed to undergo heart surgery to correct cardiac arrhythmia, which was discovered in 1999 when he collapsed after a concert. After several months of training, Bass received cosmonaut certification and was scheduled to fly into space on the Soyuz TMA-1 mission that was to be launched on October 30, 2002. The capsule was scheduled to fly to the International Space Station and land in a desert in Kazakhstan.

Several months before Bass was scheduled to fly, the original deal to air the documentary about Bass fell through. Bass's camp turned to MTV, who initially agreed to sponsor the trip but then backed out over "payment, insurance, and indemnification issues". Shortly after, all of Bass's other sponsorships fell through, including one sponsor that pulled out because they worried about the image of their brand possibly being tarnished if Bass were to die on the mission. Bass was eventually rejected from the program, and was replaced on the flight by Russian cosmonauts Yuri Lonchakov, Sergei Zalyotin and Belgium’s Frank De Winne.

Space advocacy

In 2003, Bass began serving as World Space Week's Youth Spokesman. Bass has stated that he believes young people becoming more interested in space exploration "will help the future of our planet". From 2003 to 2005, Bass spent World Space Week travelling to American high schools speaking with students about space exploration and encouraging them to explore careers in the fields of science and mathematics. Bass is a member of the National Space Society, a non-profit educational space advocacy organization founded by Dr. Wernher Von Braun. Bass has served on the National Space Society's Board of Governors since October 2004, alongside other space advocates such as actor Tom Hanks and author and futurist Sir Arthur C. Clarke. In a 2007 interview with GQ magazine, Bass stated that he "absolutely" still intends on going to space, and that he hopes to work on a space documentary. Bass has also retained fluency in Russian, which he was required to learn during his training.

Sexuality

Bass revealed that he is gay in a cover story for People magazine on July 26, 2006. There had been considerable media speculation about his sexuality due to numerous paparazzi snapshots of him at gay bars and nightclubs, most notably during the preceding Independence Day weekend in Provincetown, Massachusetts. Celebrity gossip blogger Perez Hilton had also been posting items on his website about Bass's sexuality since September 2005, and New York gossip column Page Six ran a blurb on July 12, 2006 that reported a sighting of Bass at a gay bar with his then-boyfriend, Reichen Lehmkuhl. Bass's publicist, Ken Sunshine, chose to release the story exclusively to People magazine, who bumped actor Johnny Depp off of that week's cover in favor of Bass. In his coming out interview, Bass stated,
The thing is, I’m not ashamed – that’s the one thing I want to say. I don't think it's wrong, I'm not devastated going through this. I'm more liberated and happy than I’ve been my whole life. I'm just happy.

Bass' announcement received a large amount of media attention. The American public's reaction was generally positive, with Bass receiving "overwhelming support" from many teenagers and young adults who grew up listening to 'N Sync. However, Bass received criticism from the LGBT community when he referred to himself and his friends as "straight acting" in his People interview, stating, "I call them the SAGs — the straight-acting gays. We're just normal, typical guys. I love to watch football and drink beer." This comment angered some members of the LGBT community, who believed that Bass not only implied that effeminate gay men were not 'normal', but further enforced unneeded stereotypes. In a 2007 interview with The Advocate, Bass called his comment a "mistake" and noted that he was unaware of the negative implications surrounding the term. Bass stated, "Every community is hard to please. Our community is very fickle. It’s a touchy community because it’s the last civil rights movement we have left here in America. So when someone new like myself comes along and says off-the-mark things, yeah, I can see how people would get pissed.”

Bass found himself in the midst of further controversy later that year when he, along with then-boyfriend Lehmkuhl, was awarded the 2006 Human Rights Campaign Visibility Award on October 7, 2006. The Washington Blade printed a guest editorial from a long-time HRC supporter who claimed that neither recipient had done enough to deserve the award and that The Human Rights Campaign was simply capitalizing on Bass' fame to sell tickets. The Human Rights Campaign stood by Bass and defended his award, responding to critics by saying, "Bass is the biggest music star since Melissa Etheridge to come out, and maybe some people think HRC should just ignore these moments of cultural significance, but his declaration did initiate a positive, national conversation that continues today."

Autobiography

Following public response surrounding his coming out, Bass announced that he was releasing an autobiography. The book, entitled Out Of Sync, was published on October 23, 2007. It was co-written by New York Times best-selling biographer Marc Eliot, who also wrote the book's introduction, and was published by Simon Spotlight Entertainment, a division of Simon & Schuster. The 208-page book covers what Bass describes as "the first chapter" in his life, from his childhood growing up in rural Mississippi, to his efforts to obtain a seat on a Russian space capsule and the proceeding financial issues he had with his sponsors, and culminating with Bass's decision to go public with his sexuality. The book includes details about boyfriends that he kept from family and friends, and recounts 'N Sync's 2002 decision to go on an "extended hiatus". Out of Sync debuted on The New York Times Best Seller list for the week of November 11, 2007.

Philanthropy and causes

Bass has been involved with a number of charities during his career. In 2001, Bass founded The Lance Bass Foundation, a non-profit organization that was designed to meet the health needs of low-income children. In 2003, Bass donated $30,000 US to establish the Amber Pulliam Special Education Endowment at The University of Southern Mississippi. The endowment is in honor of his younger cousin, Amber Pulliam, who has Down's Syndrome, and was established to financially aid students from Mississippi's Pine Belt who plan a career in special education.

After 2005's Hurricane Katrina, Bass launched "uBid For Hurricane Relief", a celebrity auction to benefit victims of the hurricane, with uBid.com. Proceeds from the auction were split between the Child Welfare League of America, The Brett Favre Fourward Mississippi Foundation, and Ashton Kutcher's RockWorks Foundation. Many of Bass's family members in Mississippi were directly affected by the hurricane. That same year, Bass appeared on an episode of Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, where he wrote a check for $50,000 US and presented it to a Russian woman with Cerebral Palsy who started a camp for disabled Russian children.

Bass is a member of the Environmental Media Association's Board of Directors. He has also been involved with Animal Avengers, Shannon Elizabeth's animal rescue organization, and has two dogs which he adopted from a rescue shelter. In August 2007, Bass wrote a guest commentary for LOGO's "Visible Vote '08" blog, in which he expressed support for gay marriage. In September 2007, Bass participated in a series of GLAAD television advertisements promoting tolerance for the LGBT community. Bass has also been involved in fundraising for the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network.

Personal life

Bass dated actress Danielle Fishel of TV's Boy Meets World throughout 1999 and 2000. Fishel stated that she was heavily invested in the relationship, commenting that she was "so in love" with Bass. Bass ended the relationship after one year, and continued to exclusively date women until he was 22.

In his autobiography, Bass documents two gay relationships that predated media speculation; one with a Miami, Florida native named Jesse, with whom Bass lived for two years, and another with an Idaho native named Joe. Bass began dating Amazing Race winner Reichen Lehmkuhl in early 2006, a courtship that garnered tabloid coverage and led to Bass's decision to come out. Bass described his relationship with Lehmkuhl as "very stable", however, the couple split several months later. Shortly after his split with Lehmkuhl, Bass briefly dated Brazilian model and LXTV host Pedro Andrade. From August 2007 to March 2008, Bass dated New York-based hairdresser Ben Thigpen.

In a 2006 interview, Bass stated that he has Attention-Deficit Disorder. Bass's favorite music bands are Aerosmith, The Goo Goo Dolls, and Journey, and his favorite actress is Lucille Ball, whom he grew up watching on I Love Lucy re-runs. He is a self-described "huge Dr. Seuss fan", devoting an entire room in his Jackson, Mississippi estate to Seuss memorabilia. Bass has said that he is a Christian and that he regularly attends church, though he considers himself to be non-denominational. He is the godfather of former bandmate Joey Fatone's daughter, Briahna. Bass and Fatone are best friends.

Filmography

Year Title Role Notes
2000 Longshot Flight Engineer
2000 7th Heaven Rick Palmer Television guest role
2001 On The Line Kevin Grossed: $4,201,288
2001 Zoolander Himself Cameo appearance
2002 Kingdom Hearts Sephiroth Voice only, video game
2004 Kim Possible Robbie Voice only, television appearance
2004 Higglytown Heroes Electrician Hero Voice only, television appearance
Credited as James Lance Bass
2005 Cursed Himself Cameo appearance
2005 Robot Chicken Himself Voice only, television appearance
2005 Lovewrecked Dan
2007 I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry Himself (Band Leader)
2008 Tropic Thunder Himself Cameo appearance

References

External links

Official

Biographical or discographical

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