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A Star Isn’t Born

October 15, 2018

Right now, Lady Gaga is dazzling audiences with her first major role in a movie, a remake of A Star is Born, directed by co-star Bradley Cooper. It’s an auspicious first stab at film stardom, unlike these other attempts by pop stars who tried their hand at acting.

Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band

A film that combined the songs of the greatest band of all time, with the plot line of that band’s most important album, and starring four of the biggest musicians of its era somehow became an unmitigated disaster. In 1978, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band hit theaters, starring the Bee Gees and Peter Frampton as the titular, fictional band from the Beatles’ landmark 1967 concept album. The soundtrack was loaded with those guys, and others covering Beatles tunes; Aerosmith scored a hit with its version of “Come Together” and Steve Martin’s “Maxwell’s Silver Hammer” is something to behold. However, the movie was a confusing, convoluted, psychedelic mess. (The Chicago Reader called it “indescribably awful.”) It bombed at the box office, and the careers of both Frampton and the Bee Gees never quite recovered.

Crossroads

Britney Spears was all over the radio and MTV in the late ‘90s and early 2000s, so it was only a matter of time before the “pop princess” made a movie. In 2002, she headlined Crossroads, a movie about three high school friends (Spears, Taryn Manning of Orange is the New Black, and Zoe Saldana of Guardians of the Galaxy) going on a road trip to discover themselves. There’s lots of soapy drama along the way, and it generated a hit for Spears with its spelling-everything-out theme song “I’m Not a Girl (Not Yet a Woman).” Spears won a Razzie Award for “Worst Actress” and never starred in a movie again. (Fun fact: Crossroads was written by Grey’s Anatomy and Scandal creator Shonda Rhimes.)

The Jazz Singer

Neil Diamond had a ton of hits, and put on a great show, earning him lots of comparisons to Elvis Presley. One difference between the King and the “Cracklin’ Rosie” singer-songwriter: Elvis starred in a bunch of successful movies. In 1980, after nearly two decades of fame, Diamond agreed to star in a movie: a remake of the 1927 Al Jolson hit The Jazz Singer. Diamond, 39, played a, twenty-something, cantor in a synagogue who leaves his whole life behind for a chance to be a rock star. Diamond won the Razzie Award for Worst Actor, and the only acting he ever did after The Jazz Singer were cameos as himself.

Kiss Meets the Phantom of the Park

Kids don’t much like clowns anymore, but in the mid-1970s they sure loved Kiss, the highly theatrical hard rock band whose members dressed in frightening, clownish makeup and gave themselves comic book-esque personas like “Starchild,” “Space Ace,” “Cat-Man,” and “Demon.” That should’ve lent itself very well to a 90-minute movie…but instead the group starred in a made-for-TV project in 1978 called Kiss Meets the Phantom of the Park. The premise: Kiss are superheroes, and they must use their special powers to prevent a mad scientist from blowing up an amusement park. The members of Kiss hated it so much that for years, crew members and record company staff were reportedly not allowed to mention the movie in their presence. (They also made sure that it’s been hard to find on DVD or VHS.)

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