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tv   2020  ABC  December 13, 2019 9:00pm-11:01pm PST

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oh! aah! [ thud ] my arms! ooooooh. ♪ ♪ everybody rock your body right backstreet's back all right ♪ ♪ the backstreet boys and andd nsync was the background noise to a lot of people's lives. >> they were created by this great, big dude from queens. >> the music producer. >> the boy band impresario is what he was called. >> i had heard he was a
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billionaire. >> lou is a salesman from the drop. he wanted to connect with you, and this was his skill. his belief in himself and his capacity to make you believe. >> most people fell for it. >> we never even questioned if that was real or not. >> he was very good at being shady. >> lou was so charismatic, so sympathetic, everyone wanted to be a part of his world that here created, without realizing he was robbing them blind. >> it was blimp money that started the whole thing. that's incredible. ♪ >> louis j. pearlman grows up in queens, new york.
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he was born in 1954. and so right next to where lou pearlman is growing up, coming out of flushing airport, there are these airships that take off. and when lou pearlman is 10 years old, he sees his first goodyear blimp. the blimp transforms his life. >> i saw the goodyear blimp flying outside my window, and i was like, what is this thing flying around? it intrigued me. it was the world's fair at the time and i managed to get a ride on it. i was hooked. i loved flying. >> lou was sort of obsessed with aviation and many of his life choices later on actually kind of had an aviation theme. >> lou did not grow up as the coolest guy at his school. lou has a pocket protector. lou pulls his pants up really high. lou is not a hipster.
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>> i think lou was always a little bit of an outcast. lou was the kind of person that you're never really sure if he's telling you the truth. even when he'd, like, tell a white lie to somebody in front of me, he would say, "can you believe he believed what i just said?" i think he became aware of his ability to have people trust him sort of in a haphazard way. once he became aware of that, he wasn't afraid to use it further. >> a schemer. and a liar. that's probably the best way of summing up his personality. >> he would tell you all these lies and then every once in a while something would be true, but you just didn't know whether or not to believe him. so he used to say that his first cousin, that he was very close to, was art garfunkel from simon and garfunkel. >> when i was 8 years old. i loved playing the guitar. i wanted to get into the guitar because i saw my cousin art garfunkel. >> we all said, "oh, that's
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b.s., that can't be the case." >> it's not one thing. he made up so many stories over our friendship. >> sure enough, that turned out to be true. he really did know him. >> simon and garfunkel were gigantic in the '60s. you probably remember them from "sound of silence" or "bridge over troubled water." ♪ they were massive. >> art garfunkel sang at his bar mitzvah. i think that was a very formative moment for lou. >> and so any available object, any tale or backstory that lou could use to convince you that he knew what he was doing, he would use, and maybe the first thing he ever used that way was his actual relationship with art garfunkel, his cousin. >> i was a kid musician in a band. we all had bands. we had a lot of fun. we were playing clubs.
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that's where i met lou. it was 1973, '4, the club was full of people doing the walk, including lou pearlman in his leisure suit, polyester by the way. that was the look. i saw them on the side of the stage. and, hey, trying to get my attention, because i was on stage. "i love music, you guys are great. we should get together. my cousin's art garfunkel." that was the calling card. he wanted he and i to be like the reincarnation of simon and garfunkel. but it was a hobby for him, music. you know, he'd strum a chord and try to sing, and it wasn't really his thing. yeah. and arty, if you're listening, in the end, lou, he just wanted to be like you. and we had no idea how much that would drive him to all kinds of things. >> i went back to finish queens college and did my thing in accounting. i had to stick with business, because it was so difficult to get into the music business, and i loved it.
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i got my mba, but most importantly was my love for both. i stayed with aviation. >> i mean, blimps are kind of cool and interesting, but he was trying to make a business out of it. >> lou had this i think in retrospect a rather brilliant idea, which was to use blimps to advertise all kinds of products. he first made a deal with jordache jeans. >> so jordache, this jeans company, they made jeans that you had to lie flat on the bed and have four guys zip them up for you. the jordache look, the jordache -- remember? he finds this blimp, but by blimp standards it's a kind of a cheap little blimp. but somehow he convinces jordache to put their name on the side of it. and he'll put it up. and they'll get all this advertising. ♪
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>> unfortunately he had put so much gold leaf on the outside of the blimp that it crashed in new jersey and only made it a couple of hundred yards. >> only one aboard, the pilot, unhurt. a gust of wind that reportedly hurled it to the ground, damaging its landing gear. >> what does lou do? the blimp cost maybe five figures. reportedly, lou has insured the blimp for millions. >> the jordache blimp would have killed most businesses, but lou pearlman is not the kind of person who gives up. >> he creates this company called airship international. it's a publicly traded company. he has shareholders and everything. >> i think when he got people investing in him, he had a pool of money to keep an appearance now, like what his business was doing was good. but what he had was a pile of
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investor money that he bought a rolls royce with and a penthouse apartment that made investors feel good. >> he had two rolls royces that he would drive around the neighborhood with. i don't know if they were his or what. but it had a fake phone in it. he'd be driving, one of them was a convertible and you'd see him driving it on his fake phone. >> i looked at lou sometimes like a tabloid and everything is 10% of the truth and 90% [ bleep ]. but lou's a talker, he was a storyteller. >> and whether these stories were true or not, doesn't really matter in the great sense. what matters is hearing these entrepreneurial stories made you feel more like you wanted to give him your money. >> lou's blimp business for a while was successful. he leased blimps to mcdonald's. >> and you can see on the tail, that's the name of our company. airship international limited. >> the idea is that he's going to create blimps and people will be able to advertise on the side of these blimps. >> in addition to the blimps,
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lou has these other companies. a helicopter service. a charter service. all these things that fly in the sky. >> lou was essentially borrowing planes from somebody who owned them or leasing them, and then acting as a middleman who would turn around and rent those planes and charter them. and oftentimes he would take credit for owning those planes. >> we did charter flights. and we flew paul mccartney and wings, rolling stones. phil collins, madonna. and, lo and behold, new kids on the block. i just didn't know who they were and i was just questioning, how could these kids afford an airplane? and i was told these kids did $200 million in record sales and 800 million in touring and merchandising. i was like, i'm in the wrong business. ♪ >> image was everything for lou. his image, if it couldn't be the
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♪ in the early 1990s, new kids on the block, they were the biggest thing in the world. and teenage girls went bananas for them. >> they were everywhere. they were dolls, they were towels. they were lunchboxes. >> the new kids on the block! >> they played the super bowl half-time show. they were a really big pop deal. >> in 1991, "forbes" magazine said new kids made more money than madonna and michael jackson. >> but manufactured boy bands have been around forever. with the monkees. ♪ then i saw her face i'm a believer ♪ ♪ just as long as you hold me ♪ >> and here was also menudo. ricky martin was at one point a member.
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and don't forget new edition. they had bobby brown. >> but it was the success of new kids that really caught lou's attention. >> how's my mic? good? >> lou pearlman talked to chris cuomo on "20/20" in 2000. >> i was invited to come down to one of their shows. all the screaming. i was like, "my god, what's going on here?" and these girls were buying these t-shirts and hats and chains and posters. >> i love the new kids. >> i was like, "man, this is exciting." i mean, not to mention, okay. there's a tinkle into the cash register. no question about it. unbelievable. >> so what did you do? >> i said, "i think i can do that. i think i can put a group like that together." >> by the time lou had his idea to start a boy band, he was living in orlando, florida. and orlando is a great place to be if you want to start a boy band because there's a lot of young talent auditioning for
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roles at the theme parks. >> i was a manager at the time. a.j. mclean was a client. >> i always felt that because he had this talent and he was so focused on what he wanted to do from such a young age that he was destined for something special. >> i get a phone call one day from this gentleman who i'd never heard of before named lou pearlman. he had heard a.j. sing and really loved him. and he wanted to know if i would work with him to put a new boy group together. kind of on the lines of the new kids on the block. and so i'm like, "hell yeah, i'm jumping on that." he said i could manage the group and be a co-producer with him. >> the big problem with new kids on the block is that there was a rumor that they couldn't sing live. >> so what lou pearlman thought was, "oh, well, i'll find five guys who are good-looking and can dance but that can sing." so lou puts an ad in the
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"orlando sentinel," which reads, "producer seeks male singers that move well between 16 and 19 years of age, wanted for a new kids type singing dance group." >> lou pearlman had a blimp warehouse where he stored the blimp parts in kissimmee, florida. and one by one the kids came in. nicky carter sang "bridge over troubled waters." and, oh, my god, he knocked us on the floor. obviously a.j. mcclean. and we had howard dorough. howie had a great voice. those are the three originals. and we needed five. >> i liked the sound but i'd said to them, "you really need to have five-part harmony." >> lou actually found kevin at a disney parade. he was playing aladdin. >> kevin came into the group and recommended his cousin brian. >> and he says, "i have a cousin in kentucky. his name is brian littrell. he sings in church. he's a really good singer." >> so that formed five guys together. i put the money out to help them.
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we'd give them choreographers. we'd give them vocal lessons. we'd give them tutors. i think i'm a great cultivator. >> lou is a big guy. but he wasn't a threatening guy. he was kind of a cherubic roly-poly kind of soft guy. >> they call me big papa. >> lou does give himself a nickname. it's big papa. because he's got it all covered. he's taking care of all of it. >> the kids all called him big papa. and it was endearing. i thought it was very sweet at the time. >> so the boys kind of welcome pearlman as a father figure, especially kevin richardson, whose father had recently died of cancer. and a.j. had grown up pretty much without a father. nick carter lived in tampa. his father was a former truck driver who ran a nursing home with his wife jane. and money was tight. when nick was 13 he was offered big bucks to join the mickey mouse club. and surprisingly enough his parents allowed him to choose lou pearlman's group instead of the mickey mouse club. >> he was offered the mickey mouse club contract.
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and then he was also offered this opportunity with the backstreet boys. which, at that time they didn't even have a name. >> how much money did you turn down by not having nick be a mouseketeer? >> it was $50,000. it was really a tough decision. >> in many ways, pearlman filled a void for these boys. but big papa could be a tough taskmaster. >> boy band boot camp, basically that's what is was. these kids worked seven days a week from early morning till early evening every day. >> sometimes where they sweat a lot. we were in an environment sometimes they didn't have air conditioning. but it was great for the times that they're on tour and the hot summer nights. or the hot summer days that they were good that they had that training. >> i think lou's passion at that point, at the beginning, was so endearing. and his drive. >> in the spring of 1993, they appear on local channel 6 in
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orlando. >> what is your name? >> i'm a.j. mclean. >> aj. and who are you? >> howie d. >> howie. okay, now, where are you from? >> i'm from lexington, kentucky. my name's brian litrell. >> brian, okay, and over here? >> i'm from tampa, florida. and i'm nick carter. >> okay, and who are you? >> i'm kevin richardson from lexington, kentucky. >> the new heartthrobs, huh? >> make some noise for the backstreet boys! >> and then lou books them at seaworld, which is, of course, a big attraction in orlando. and it includes the temptations classic "get ready." >> pearlman makes a video of a seaworld performance and sends it around to people in the industry. former new kids on the block road managers johnny wright and his then-wife donna see the tape. and they think the boys have potential. >> we feel good. we're happy. >> johnny and donna came down. and they helped me manage the group. >> this is johnny wright, production manager and voice of the new kids. >> what i had heard about him prior to meeting him, that he
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was a billionaire. he runs around in a rolls royce. he owns all these blimps in orlando. he also told me he was a writer and a producer. i had no reason to doubt anything that he was telling me at that time. and he had already put the band together. so i just felt like, "hey, we lucked into something here." >> but remember, pearlman has already hired jean tanzey as their manager. >> lou pearlman said, "jean, you know, we love you. but we really need to bring in someone who has a lot more experience in the music industry. you're always going to be family." that was my good-bye kick. he just cut me out. >> with johnny and donna wright on board as managers, the backstreet boys go on a tour of high schools. >> they would do three shows a day in three different schools. and they would bust out on the gym floor. and the girls would lose their mind. and they had never heard of them before. >> i went to all the schools. and saw the genesis of backstreet boys going around the country.
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you really have to be hands-on to be out there and see what's going on. >> lou had his hands in everything. he would be like, "yeah, i don't know if that move is right." he would show them in a funny way, like, something that they should do. lou always felt that they shouldn't be so covered up. he always was thinking about the girls want, like, pin-up guys and stuff like that. >> and you also have to recall that this was when grunge was a big deal. >> nirvana, pearl jam. >> we're getting gangster rap. and snoop doggy dogg is all the rage. and so there's nobody talking about a boy band. ♪ everybody >> now all they need is a record deal. and they'll get one. but by the time they get one, there'll be somebody else installed as a kind of sixth member of the group. >> the sixth man. ♪ backstreet's back all right
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♪ i adore i adore ♪ we are more went to all the major record labels. and they all turned us down. and they all said, "no way." until we found jive records that said, "yeah, we'll try it with you." >> when the band came to new york to sign the record contract, denise, who was a.j.'s mother, wanted an outside lawyer to look at the contract. and lou says, "absolutely not. it's now or never." and so she signed. >> hey, we signed a contract. let's move forward. and let's make a lot of money together. and let's make this thing happen. they were all happy and congratulating that we did it. and the parents signed on the guardian lines. >> when he signed the record deal as the manager with the backstreet boys, he not only made himself the sixth member of the band, so that he would get paid what they got paid, he also paid himself as the manager. >> lou was really always focused on the payday. the bigger picture was always the payday at the end of that
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road for lou. >> why is that so important to you to be called one of the band members? >> well, one is, i share in the income. >> money aside, money aside. >> backstreet boys is a part of my life as much as it is theirs. >> the group needs material. they need good songs. and jive has a relationship with a studio overseas. >> jive says, "hey, lou pearlman, how about sending your guys to sweden to record?" you know what lou pearlman says? "absolutely." they tapped in to this amazing songwriting talent, producing talent, out of this studio in stockholm. >> max martin is this swedish songwriter/producer. >> he became an unparalleled hitmaker. he is responsible for more number one singles than just about any writer/producer of the
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last 40 years. >> he's going to write "baby one more time." ♪ baby one more time ♪ i got the eye of the tiger >> he'll work with katy perry. he'll co-write "roar" for her. >> max will go on to work with taylor swift. they'll co-write "shake it off." >> max martin's career takes off with the backstreet boys. he co-writes and co-produces "we've got it going on." ♪ we've got it going on >> it only hit number 69 on the hot 100. but over in europe is working as a top ten. so we went to europe to promote it. >> at that point in time, boy bands were big in germany. i knew if they had their best shot, it was in a market where boy bands were super successful. >> they go to germany. and they're a huge hit. there are people clamoring for them. >> the girls went nuts. it was just crazy.
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so they blew up over there. >> you can see this mania that the backstreet boys set off in the german fans from this german tv clip. ♪ >> so despite selling a million cds and touring throughout europe and canada, they are still basically unknown in the united states. >> we used to call america no fan land. >> everything will change in 1997 with the release of the album "the backstreet boys." and this song co-written by max martin. ♪ quit playing games with my heart ♪ >> as far as boy band music videos, the template was set by "quit playing games with my heart." five boys begging a girl not to break their heart in the pouring rain. >> after almost five years together, the backstreet boys will finally hit it big in america with songs like
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"everybody." ♪ and "as long as you love me." ♪ >> please welcome the backstreet boys. >> to the delight of their screaming fans the boys do rounds on talk shows like "regis and kathie lee." >> we hoped that we'd be successful. but we never imagined this would happen. >> meanwhile, while all of this work on making backstreet boys a hit is going on, lou is thinking, "hmm, this is a good idea. and someone else is going to come along and try to copy this idea. why shouldn't that person be me?" >> so backstreet thinks that they are lou's only love. they are not lou's only love. there's another band that lou pearlman is putting together, a
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♪ the group started with chris. chris had the initial idea to put the group together. >> i moved to orlando right out of high school, and i wanted to pursue music. >> i'd had this a cappella group. and i remember my buddy charlie. he said he wanted to introduce me to lou, because lou was looking for another group. and he thought that my a cappella group would be perfect for him. at that point, i'd known lou had the backstreet boys. you know, they were out doing it. and i was like, "if this guy thinks, you know, he can help me out in any ways, i'll meet him." and so right away i was totally in. >> chris kirkpatrick had the idea. but lou -- lou backed him and made this happen. >> the first band that i brought
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to lou, you know, a couple guys would quit. >> now lou is going to dip into the pot of gold that disney has created with this phenomenal cast of talented young people. >> the all-new "mickey mouse club" of 1993 had several future superstars in its cast. justin timberlake, keri russell, britney spears, j.c. chasez, christina aguilera, and ryan gosling. justin and britney even performed together, singing "i feel for you." ♪ ♪ i feel for you i think i love you i feel for you ♪ >> despite all the talent on that show, disney pulls the plug on it. >> when "mickey mouse club" was canceled, i found out about it and then learned that justin timberlake moved home to memphis. and then when we called him, moved him down. >> the first thing justin suggested was one of his friends from "the mickey mouse club," j.c.
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and so justin kind of brought j.c. into the mix. >> they as a group then went and found joey fatone, who was playing the wolfman at universal studios. >> so they got four guys, and they're one guy short. >> they realized they needed a bass singer, so justin timberlake's vocal coach said, "i know this guy in mississippi," and it was lance bass. >> my love of music really began singing in my church. in mississippi, no one ever dreamt of being a successful musician. it just was kind of out of the cards for someone like me. >> but one day when lance was a sophomore in high school, he got a telephone call that would change his life. >> it was a huge day in my life. when i got the call from lou pearlman and justin timberlake. they were like, "we'd like to fly you down to orlando." and i thought that was amazing, because i've never even been on a plane before. so i arrive at baggage claim. and there's 14-year-old justin timberlake, looking real cool and sly. then you have lou pearlman. and they pull up in his rolls royce, a limo.
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and that's how i'm introduced to this whole world. when you meet lou, you immediately trust him for some reason. he had this very jolly personality that you just felt like he was family. and from the second that i met him i really loved him. >> he just was like this fatherly figure that, we never had any worries around him, because, you know, financially, he was the money guy. i mean, everywhere we went he was, like, "i'll buy this, i'll do this, i'll do this." >> my mom didn't want me to do the group because she didn't know exactly what this was, if i was gonna be taken advantage of. but she saw how excited that i was so she had to let it ride. lou was always painting the picture of a perfect life. he tells your mom, "oh, you're a teacher now but in a year from now you won't be teaching anymore. you'll be totally taken care of," you just believe that. >> now with the support of the parents, the hard work begins.
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pearlman's gonna put them through the paces just like he did with the backstreet boys. >> it was so hard. and it really took us months to focus on that and learn how to dance without being out of breath. >> i used to come watch and be there to make sure they're getting the best training. that they are getting pampered with every possible need. that was what i did. ♪ >> the first show we ever did was a showcase we did at pleasure island. and we just did some of the songs that we had. ♪ >> and somehow word gets back to johnny wright that pearlman has a new boy band. >> so i called lou and i was like, "do you have another boy band i don't know about?" he goes, "no, no, no." and he goes, "this kid chris kirkpatrick, he wants to put a band together and he just comes to me every once in a while to ask for some advice, but i got nothing to do with that band." >> it was always like a secret. like, everything was, "don't tell anybody about this. don't say that i'm involved with
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you. don't say that you really even know me." it just seemed so shady. >> in an effort to make himself look even more accomplished, pearlman starts his own record label, transcontinental. >> i mean, we had lou pearlman's transcontinental records. but it was an indie label and you needed a major label to, you know, be your distributor. >> every record exec out there turned us down. they were like, "nothing like this would ever work in america. this is way too cheesy." >> but remember, boy bands remain really hot in germany. >> so i called lou and i said, "i know you say you have nothing to do with nsync. but if you can find them, and we can sign them, i can get them a deal right now." within two hours, he had me on the phone with justin's parents. "i found them." >> it always amazes me that nsync took almost the exact same route to fame as backstreet boys. they too went to europe. they too went to max martin to record. >> max martin writes a song for
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them which is called "i want you back." ♪ tell me what to do now when i want you back ♪ >> then they came out with a second single called, "tearin' up my heart." >> when the single hit, it blew up, and we started doing these shows. and one of them was called wetten dass. ♪ >> and not long after nsync will finally break in america, interestingly enough, because the backstreet boys turned down a disney concert special. >> for some reason or other backstreet couldn't do it, so disney said, "hey, would you guys be interested?" and we're all like, "yes." >> you may recognize this next song, because it was our first hit single. are you ready? >> the disney channel concert really changed our career. ♪
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>> it was incredible. and that one gig right there, to me, is what made us in america. >> and the disney channel plays that concert over and over and over and over again. >> backstreet fans were mad. they were like, "oh, we can't have another group like this." >> almost from the beginning, lines were drawn. some girls loved backstreet boys and hated nsync, and some girls loved nsync and hated backstreet boys. >> they can move like nobody else. they are better than backstreet. >> backstreet's nothing compared to them. i love you, you rule! >> so when backstreet boys found out that lou was the manager behind their greatest rival, they were outraged. >> lou knew what he was doing, because, as he always said, you have coke and you have pepsi. this was not the cola wars, it was the boy band wars. >> but pearlman won't be content with just two huge bands. essentially pearlman wants to create a kind of pop music factory. >> i'm very happy. i've been blessed with all the
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artists that we have. it's been great and we have more things coming. >> but as perlman is building his empire, his stars are starting to get restless. >> you're so successful that you forget to even look at your finances and realize, "oh, wait, we're not getting paid." >> where's the money going? and who is seeing the money?
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♪ ♪ everybody so in 1998, mtv has this show called "trl," total request live." >> welcome to the show, "total request live," or as i would like to start right now for all the kids at home watching, "trl." >> it is the hottest thing on afternoon television. >> "total request live." a show entirely determined by what viewers like. you have britney spears. you have christina aguilera. >> every day at "trl" was regular pandemonium. when one of the teen boy bands would come in, it was, like, double pandemonium. it was just completely crazy. ♪ it's tearing up my heart when i'm with you when we are apart i feel it too ♪ >> at the time it was all about cds, and they cost 15 bucks. nsync would come out with a new album, and it would sell 2
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million in a week, which is unheard of. lou pearlman, for all of his faults, was an amazing casting director. >> he believed you had to have five members. and he believed within that five members, you had to have a guy for every girl. >> i noticed that the fans were looking for different guys. like they'd find something in nick which they would find something different than kevin. it's great to have somebody latino who gives an extra flavor to it. >> that first time i saw nsync, i did not think that this was going to be a massive band. he really saw things in people that would not blossom for years. >> nsync was in some ways more relatable to the audience than backstreet was. they're like the kids next door. they're going to wear sports gear. >> our clothes were just horrible. they were always just oversized. no one really cared. there was no stylist that came in and was like, "oh, we're gonna do this and we're gonna fit you that." no, it was, like, "here's a rack of stuff. we're putting you in this and that's it."
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>> hi, we're nsync, show us the way to the snakehouse. >> and then we'd get so busy we didn't have time to cut our hair or to put bleach in our hair. so that's when i started just kind of getting this bleach and putting it in my hair and just putting my fingertips in it. and that's how the frosted tips were born. >> the boy bands become such a huge part of pop culture, ben stiller and andy dick do a parody of them on the mtv music awards. ♪ do you still want me do you still want me around ♪ ♪ >> lou became a bit of a celebrity himself. he would be at their shows and fans would be like, "big papa. it's lou." >> big dog! >> lou wanted to be famous, period, end of sentence. that is what he was in this to do. >> pearlman really wanted to become a major music mogul. >> we just thought that it was us and the backstreet boys and that's all that he was really
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focusing on right now. not knowing that he was developing tons of bands on the side. >> lfo, which i think stands for "light funky ones." ♪ new kids on the block had a bunch of hits ♪ >> records a song called "summer girls." >> he started c note. >> take 5. >> he was hoping to be able to continue to milk the market. ♪ yo i'll tell you what i want what i really, really want ♪ >> around this time, the spice girls were huge with their hit "wannabe." ♪ if you wanna be my lover you have got to give ♪ >> so it made sense to pearlman that maybe he should get into the girl band business as well. >> we came out with a girls group called innosense. >> he almost signed one of the most famous female stars of all time. >> here's 10-year-old britney spears! >> after she loses on "star search" -- >> m-i-c-k-e-y m-o-u-s-e! >> britney!
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>> and she goes on to be in "the mickey mouse club." britney spears was almost in lou pearlman's girl group innosense. ♪ i don't care what you say i don't care what you do ♪ >> she decided she didn't want to stay with the group. he decided to go solo. but we went on and continued to develop the girls band. >> here's a little bit of old school for you that goes a little something like this. >> pearlman also manages a young boy named aaron carter, the little brother of nick carter. >> with his stable of musical acts, sometimes pearlman liked to compare his company to motown. >> a lot of synergy to motown. you had the four tops, we have c note. you have the temptations, well, we have backstreet boys. or take five, that was the jackson five. you have the supremes, we have innosense. there's a lot of synergy between that. >> berry gordy created motown but he actually produced and co-wrote many of their legendary songs, like "abc" for the jackson 5. and the classic "do you love me" by a group called the contours. ♪ do you love me i can really move do you love me ♪
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>> no, he was never a barry gordy. i've heard this. this is [ bleep ]. okay? he was barely in a recording studio. he didn't, like, work on their records. lou sat back and counted the money coming in. >> what most people didn't know about pearlman was that in addition to being a boy band impresario, pearlman has built out transcon into a megabrand. >> trans continental companies is a conglomerate and what we have for example, is trans continental airlines, transcontinental foods, transcontinental entertainment. >> you've gone into the movie business now. >> that was a natural progression for us was to go into movies. >> lou pearlman writes and bankrolls a movie called "longshot." >> it's a vanity project. it's like, it sort of shows off his cavalcade of stars. nsync, lfo. it's got cameos from britney spears as a flight attendant. >> strong grip. must have been some dream you had. >> justin timberlake as a car valet guy. >> art garfunkel, the cousin he always talked about, is in the movie. >> i'm art garfunkel, and i just want to make a purchase. >> he himself is in it as well. >> it's okay, i checked it
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already. >> pearlman plays a cop named captain lewis. and he uncovers a stock scandal, which looking back on things is kind of ironic, considering how he ended up. >> do you have any more jelly donuts? >> the movie went straight to the disney channel, where i think it aired a couple of times, and was never heard from again. >> but fans couldn't hear enough of nsync, and so while they're topping the charts, some band members are wondering why they haven't seen a paycheck. >> we were getting our $35 a day. per diem. i was in the biggest band in the world, and selling millions of records, and someone's making millions and millions, but i can't even afford my apartment in orlando. i couldn't even get a car. >> so one day in 1998, pearlman tells the band he wants to have a big celebration dinner and wants to do an official check presentation ceremony. >> everyone was there to have this great celebration of all of our hard work finally paying off. and at the end of the dinner we have all these envelopes sitting in front of us. and i knew my life was about to change. you know, i knew we had worked
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so hard. so i knew what that check should be or i was hoping would be. i mean, in the best and best of worlds, $1 million would've been, like, "oh, my god." that's what i thought we deserved. and then i open up the check and it is $10,000. i didn't want to seem ungrateful because, you know, at that point, yes, $10,000 was a lot of money. and we went back to the hotel room and that's when it all just hit me. i was so disappointed. and i ripped up the check. like, i did. i knew something was wrong. >> he has no idea how bad things are going to get. they'll find out that this father figure, big papa, was a total con man. but that's not all. >> you never automatically thought there was something devious behind the requests. playing chicken in the pool.
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♪ what's up, mtv? >> lou pearlman created a full-on teen pop empire. >> lou gets this rep pautation being a genius producer. >> when they found out he was behind nsync, they were outraged. >> i was in the biggest band in the world, i was getting $35 a day. >> i did trust him. sorry. it was like five years, fighting for my career, and this man
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just, like, ruined it. >> nsync and backstreet boys became the lure to these other investors. it was the bait. >> these poor people were duped by a guy because he's showing us, look what i did, look what i made happen. >> he was the biggest ponzi schemer in american history. ♪ tell me why ♪ ain't nothing but a mistake ♪ >> the old music industry line is that there are three jobs of a music manager. the first is to get the money. the second is to make sure to get to money. and the third job is to, above all else, get the money. you're supposed to be getting money on behalf of the band. lou got the money on behalf of lou.
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♪ quit playing games with my heart with my heart ♪ >> the first band that begins to raise hackles about not getting paid is backstreet. >> brian was the one who stepped up and said, "hey, guys, we got to take a stand here. we are getting mistreated, and there's something wrong." >> so backstreet's out there bringing in millions and millions of dollars. and then they find out that lou has taken $10 million for himself and left $300,000 for them to split amongst themselves. they said they began to feel like indentured servants. >> i never in a million years thought a person that i entrusted my life with and owed my career, my life to, i mean, everything at that point in my life, could do something like this. >> when brian littrell filed the lawsuit, lou felt like, i'm not in the wrong. i spent $3 million on these guys. they haven't paid me back. >> if backstreetoys didn't work, i would've eaten the buck. and it was a lot of money that i put up.
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>> how much? >> i had 3 million bucks out on a line. >> these guys have to thank me for cultivating them. for putting up the money. >> each band is told over and over again that it will be forthcoming down the road. >> when we wanted to renegotiate it was just a hard no. there was -- that's when lou there was -- that's when lou changed from jolly lou to here's business lou. >> the thing they're not realizing, and the thing every single recording artist has failed to realize for 50 years, is the power of a single word. you know what that word is? recoupable. >> i wish that was one word that someone would've taught us from day one. every entertainer needs to know this word. >> everything in the recording industry is recoupable. by which we mean everything that's done to make you successful, the record company gets to take out of your royalty. >> how much was lou pearlman taking overall from what nsync
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was making? >> i still don't know the answer to that question. >> do you know that it's more than 20%. >> i know it is more than 65%. >> lou sued us for our name. he was the sixth member of the group. and he owned the name nsync. so he took our name so we could never use it. and that's why we ended up in court. >> you're in all the papers. you know, people trying to put the black hat on you. saying you're bad in business. you're evil. you're mean to the kids. why deal with all that? everyone knows in my other businesses i've been straight up and forthright. i'm the same here. >> lou's other businesses is a reference to his trans continental megacorp. and pearlman is generously willing to share the wealth with eager investors. so big banks willingly loan him millions and retirees trust pearlman with their life savings. money that lou says is being placed into a special investment called an eisa. >> when the backstreet boys finally started making money, and the management company finally got a commission check
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of some substance, and lou had to cut the share based on partnership. he said to me, "before i give you this check," he says, "you know about my eisa account." >> they called it an employee investment savings account, which sounds legitimate. >> lou wants you to believe it's basically this foolproof investment where you can safely park your money. >> lou set up this product. but what he also set up was a network of salespeople to sell these products. >> but lou pearlman is by far the top salesman. and he uses these two very shiny lures. the airline which charters the rich and famous around the world and the darlings of the music world, his boy bands. >> when we were exploding, lou was bringing people around. but we didn't understand who they were.
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we figured because he's in the business, these are associates or these are people that he worked with. >> the plan was marketed to us by telling us that it was headed up by louis pearlman. and he had this airline called trans continental air. and they also showed us a video of the types they were invested in. >> trans continental companies' business track record will bring music to your ears when it comes to experience in capturing the teen market. >> he goes, "the banks are only paying 2% to 3% on your income. mine is guaranteed at 10%." >> sounds pretty good. but it's not so good that it starts to raise red flags. >> he would send his private jet to pick you up. then when you landed in orlando, he would send his private limo to get you. then he's like, "well, let's go to the studio." so you go to the studio and either one of the backstreet boys or nsync or somebody's in that studio recording or rehearsing. so you get to see it firsthand. then he hits you with, "oh, and by the way, your money's guaranteed at 10%." so now you've just been -- it's
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the greatest picture in the world. >> what investors don't see is the whole picture. they only see the picture that lou wants them to. >> right away we trusted him. he seemed to be doing great with the boy bands. >> those people that were coming to the shows weren't who we thought they were. they weren't associates. they were investors. and that's something that we had no clue over. >> lou presents all sorts of financial documentation to back up his claims. and what's crazy is that most investors don't even check to see if it's real. >> they had pamphlets showing us fdic approved, lloyds of london, and aig. who wouldn't feel safe with something like that? >> lou had a loyal assistant. so after lou gave me that check, i went to him. and i said, "tell me something. is this eisa account on the up and up?" and he said, "johnny, i'm a
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loyal person to lou, but i also like you." he said, "so if you ask me the right question, i won't lie to you." and i said to him, "i don't need to hear anything else. i'm not giving you my money." >> but others did. and that's a problem for lou because the so-called boy band impresario is about to become short two boy bands. >> in different legal actions, lou eventually is out as backstreet's manager. but the settlement gives him $30 million. and a continued one-sixth of everything that the band makes. >> please be with them today in the court. and please make them really come out victorious. >> after that, lou pearlman is out as manager of nsync. but again with a settlement that he says continues to provide him income. >> when nsync breaks their contract with lou, they celebrate by coming out with their album, which they called "no strings attached." >> "no strings attached" had 1,000% to do with lou.
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justin, j.c., and i were in a cab in london talking about the next record. and i said, "you know, there's no strings attached anymore." and j.c. goes, "i'm gonna write a song about that." >> they are the puppets without the puppet master. the puppet master is gone. >> with backstreet and nsync leaving the fold, lou pearlman needs to reinvent himself fast. >> everyone's like, "man, you created backstreet and nsync. there's no way you can do it again." and him and his crazy ambition is like, "yeah, i can. watch me."
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♪ "making the band" was lou pearlman's gambit to get on tv. he wanted to create another
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boy band in the style of an nsync and a backstreet boys. but he wanted to do every bit of the process on television. >> hey all you singers out there, lou pearlman, the mastermind behind such bands as lfo, nsync, and the backstreet boys is looking for five talented young men to form a new band. ♪ >> thank you. >> it chronicled everything from how the members were selected to eventually them signing their record contract and releasing records. >> and that's how he creates the band o town. >> jacob underwood. erik estrada. trevor penick. >> when he says your name, it's just instant tears. >> lou pearlman gets this reputation as being a genius
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producer, as someone who put these groups together. but when you really look at it, what did lou pearlman know about music? >> i got to be a judge for one of the early rounds. and just watching him work was really interesting. he saw things that the rest of us didn't. you got to see on "making the band," he had an ear for a good voice. but that was not the most important thing. the most important thing was charisma. voice, you can work on. dance, you can work on. charisma is not a thing you can fake. >> if there's one thing i can say about him, he knew talent. he had a really good understanding of talent. >> take your hands out of your pockets and take a deep breath. do it one more time. ♪ >> everyone's like, "man, you created backstreet and nsync. there's no way you can do it again." and him and his crazy ambition is like, "yeah, i can, watch me. you want to do a show and watch
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me do it? i'm going to show you how i do it." >> our whole thing is to show what it takes to get the group prepared. whether they become a success or not depends upon the group. >> one of the first things they do is, "welcome to trans con. here's our card. here's all the companies we own." and you're looking at this card that folds with like 40, 50 companies that he owns. right away, you're like, "whoa, i mean, i am in with somebody really important. and this is a big deal. if he owns all these things, then he must really understand business." >> we're doing all of our rehearsals and all of our practices at the trans con facilities in orlando, inside a grade "a" studio, top of the line, state of the art everything. we saw very quickly why these bands were so successful. it was the yale of boy banding. >> 5, 6, 7, and 8. >> well, the first thing i thought of when i saw "making the band" was happening and lou
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was gonna be putting together, i felt sorry for the band. because at that point i knew who lou pearlman was. and i knew he was taking advantage of people. and i knew what contract these guys would eventually be signing. >> everyone's talking about how lou gives these terrible contracts, like, "hey, make sure you know what you're getting into." it's like, "what, am i gonna not do it?" >> we didn't have the lou pearlman one-sixth member. any of the preying aspect that he had on people, we didn't. thank god, because we were protected by the directors, and the cameras, and all the people that were watching. and he couldn't do the same thing. but he did own our name. he trademarked o-town early on, the ownership of our name that he would hold over us and make life very difficult. that's why i say, he's very good at being shady. >> it was a strange situation here he was kind of running almost a day camp and a sleepaway camp for budding young pop stars. but on the other hand, there were a lot of stories out there about how he took that too far. >> there were moments, but they were childlike moments. that's the thing about lou. there was an endearing childlike
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quality to him. and you never automatically thought that there's something devious behind the requests. playing chicken in the pool, "who's going to be on my shoulders?" "you look like you're tired. let me give you a massage. let me see your abs. are they coming in?" none of those things seemed weird at the time. >> there were a lot of questions about lou's private life, how he interacted with these boys. there was some real creepy stories out there. as a person, he didn't seem to have relationships the same way a lot of us do. >> i never saw anything until after we left. then there was rumblings, you know, maybe lou was sleeping with boys to get into groups and all that. so i don't know what was real, what wasn't. >> he loved to be liked. he wanted to be liked so much. whether that stems back from his childhood in queens, he just wanted to be liked.
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>> he's always been kind of a touchy-feely kind of guy. he would come over, put his hands on your shoulder, give you a massage, and stuff. >> he managed me for a little while. "c'mon over. you got to work out. and i'm going to tell this story. because i don't care. come on over, work out. you got to build up your abs. there's a massage technique." oh, really? "so here's how it goes. i go over there. he gets behind me, right hand on the right ab and left on the left and starts doing this massage. and within 30 seconds, it's a massage accompanied by heavy breathing and a little grunting. i go, "oh, no. now, it's not going there, is it?" >> i'm sean van der wilt. and how i know lou pearlman is, i was signed under his management company and his record company as a solo artist. i was flown down to orlando, florida. i was brought into the main hub of trans continental records and management.
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i just met everybody. it was really impressive. and it was like, "oh, my god. my dreams coming true." he was always hugging you. "i've got some big plans for you boy." the first couple times he put his arm around, was hugging me but it was in a way of it just was a little too close for comfort. by the fourth time, he put his arm around me and gave me kiss on the cheek. and i was like, he's feeling a little too comfortable with me. and now i'm seeing something else. and it made me uncomfortable. it made me think other things. and then, the last time, i really shut it down. he put his arm around me and whispered something in my ear. and i didn't understand what he said. and then he goes, grabbed my face and kissed me. and i jumped up, i said, "what are you doing?" and he was like, "what are you talking about?" he's like, "we're family." >> the inappropriate sexual behavior was a very delicate topic. and i knew i had to broach it very carefully. his explanation was that anyone whose star he actually launched were happy with him.
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if their careers fizzled, they had a grudge. and that's why they said these things about him. >> the rumors, the whispers, the innuendo were always in the background. but lou pearlman never made headlines for being investigated or sued for inappropriate behavior. >> it wasn't until we were away from the show, people started coming up and going, "hey, by the way, lou's not everything he's portraying." >> after o-town is really about the beginning of the end, where he tried again to replicate his success with backstreet boys and nsync and others. and it just wasn't working out. suddenly people were coming to his orlando headquarters, knocking on the door, saying, "i can't get you on the phone. i can't get anyone to get back to me. where's my money?" . eating right and staying active? on it! audrey thinks she's doing all she can to manage her type 2 diabetes and heart disease, but is her treatment doing enough to lower her heart risk? [sfx: crash of football players colliding off-camera.] maybe not. jardiance can reduce the risk of cardiovascular death
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♪ ladies and gentlemen, please welcome sean van der wilt.
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>> i started getting a lot of opportunities in california. i performed at the miss usa pageant. i was the opening act at the kodak theater. ♪ it was all because i was signed with lou. lou pearlman was a strong name to say, and a powerful name to say. lou said, "listen, we're going to get you a house in california." "really?" "yeah." "oh, my god, this is amazing." because lou's like, "i want to get some properties out there for my artists." they took me in this house. it was beautiful. it's a $1.6 million house in hollywood. my mortgage was $8,000 a month. i lived there for two years. the company never made one payment on it, and i had no idea. so when that house -- yeah. so, yeah. there was a lot. so everything was just fake in a way. >> one month we didn't get our check, so i had called there,
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and spoke with the woman who is in the accounts, and she said that something happened to the checks, they got shredded by mistake. and then the following month there was no check again. and that's how it started crumbling. >> i got a call from one of the investors who had given money to pearlman, and they asked me about, what do i know about lou pearlman and trans continental airlines, and the answer at that time was nothing. i immediately thought, this is one of those unregistered securities that somebody is selling. so i decided that i would look into it some and find out more. there was an office number, and somebody would answer and they said, "well, nobody's here anymore." and one time i called, lou himself answered. i'm going, "wow." he said, "hi, jean, i just want
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to tell you that everything's going great." i'm like, "what is going on?" and so i said, "lou." i said, "i want to get some money out of my account. i want my money." he goes, "well, how much do you need, dear?" first i said, "the whole thing." but he says, "oh, well, i can't give that to you right now." >> i remember that my father-in-law said to me, "have you seen this article by helen huntley that mentioned trans continental airlines?" he said, "don't you have an investment in that?" and i said, "yes, we do." and then i remember reading the article and people were saying that they had investments and they were trying to get their money out, but they were not having any luck getting their money out. >> we called our salesman, and he said, "something is happening. but i can't talk about it now." i said, "well, can we get our money out?" this is getting frantic. and he says, "i'll see what i
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can do." but then we didn't hear from him. i think they started shredding all the documents. >> i think that just that helen huntley article was the thing that said, "oh, my gosh. is this not legitimate?" my parents were always frugal with their money, always careful with their money, they always saved. you try to look out for them and obviously they're elderly, they don't research things. they don't know how to get on the computer and do it and i dropped the ball. you know, and i just didn't do what i should have been doing. and obviously then i went and invested my own money, so i didn't even do it for myself. >> and the thing was, once the house went into foreclosure, the record company called me, and they said, "sean, we really care about you. you work so hard, you're hands-on with your career. you got to get out of that house. lou's never made one payment on it. he's not here anymore." and i said, "i just talked to him yesterday." "no, he fled the country."
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it was all a facade. everything that he was doing was a facade. >> lou pearlman was a name that i knew from living in orlando. the mayor had given him a key to the city. he was on many of the area's most powerful lists. i knew he had started nsync and the backstreet boys. i was a white-collar prosecutor here in central florida. in the middle of january of 2007 i learned that basically lou pearlman was involved in a investment scheme, and a bank fraud scheme that was probably gonna total over $400 million. about eight days after i opened up our investigation, lou pearlman fled the country. sometimes defendants do something that show that they know that they're guilty. one of those things is fleeing. at that point, he had my total and complete attention. oh, come on. flo: don't worry. you're covered. (dramatic music) and you're saving money, because you bundled home and auto.
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the ones that make a truebeen difference in people's lives. and mike's won them, which is important right this minute, because if he could beat america's biggest gun lobby, helping pass background check laws and defeat nra backed politicians across this country, beat big coal, helping shut down hundreds of polluting plants and beat big tobacco, helping pass laws to save the next generation from addiction.
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all against big odds you can beat him. i'm mike bloomberg and i approve this message.
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i didn't really understand the whole lou pearlman empire until he was on the run, basically. i just couldn't believe it. i was like, really? >> when things started to close in on lou, he fled. there was some debate in the beginning about whether he was actually fleeing or just he had some business to do. >> but he did go to germany initially. he made a public appearance at an awards ceremony in germany. ♪ big in america >> when i was in germany opening up for this boy band, lou thought it was a really good idea that i get presented a gold record on stage, in front of the
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audience, like, 10,000 people. and i said to him, "well, the song hasn't gone gold. we haven't even released it yet." "i know, but they don't know that. they won't know it. it'll blow it up. it'll be really great." and he says, "i'm here to present sean van der wilt for big in america." and, he meant to say platinum because -- here's another lie. but he said gold. so he went, "p -- gold for big in america!" >> this is a presentation to sean van der wilt for "big in america," going p -- gold! >> it's crazy. so i got a gold record for a song that was never released. >> leopards don't change their spots. the same guy that would phony up a gold record is the same guy that would scam the public. >> back in florida, investigators are closing in. they're looking for evidence. >> they had to take everything out of there that was either important to the case, or was of value to try and get some money back for his investors. >> when they first went into the search warrant locations, the house, it looked like someone
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had left in a hurry. >> there were gold records everywhere. there were posters signed. there were first edition cds. there were outfits. all the things that he kept in his own sort of personal boy band hard rock cafe. >> there were suspicions that there were diamonds that he hid in the walls of his house. we actually hired a company who specializes in x-raying walls. we really went with a toothpick through the entire palatial house. and we were not able to find anything. even the fbi did not find anything. >> simultaneously, the investigators are raiding lou pearlman's trans con offices at church street station. >> trans continental offices after the fbi had raided it, it looked like a hurricane had swept through the place. papers everywhere and some were shredded and half-shredded. it definitely looked like somebody had ransacked the place. >> trans con was a con all the way through. trans con airlines had no airplanes, had no employees, had no revenues, had no contracts
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with airlines. >> we never, ever flew on a trans continental airplane. we would fly to different places over in europe. and we'd always be on these delta flights. you know, in coach. and i always thought it was weird that someone that was in the airline industry couldn't help us out a little bit getting to places. i've been a filmmaker for many years now. and i just love telling stories. i always knew i wanted to produce this movie about lou's life. and there were so many things in uncovering who lou was. >> in the lance bass produced movie, "the boy band con," one of pearlman's oldest friends discusses how pearlman was up to tricks and cons as a way to fake people out about what was really going on. >> the early memories that i have of lou and myself, i really enjoyed those days. now, although i wasn't really involved with trans continental, i always loved models. what lou did is, he took my
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747 model, it's about six inches longer than this, and he branded it. and then he took it over to laguardia airport. and then he very cleverly held it by the tail and made it look like it was taking off. without his fingers showing that it was a model. so people, when they saw these photos, thought that the model was an actual 747 that was a trans continental branded airplane. >> it was one of the many jaw-dropping things that i discovered in producing "the boy band con." it was so jaw-dropping. like, oh, my god. like, how would you ever think, "oh, maybe he's holding the tail of a plane in front of la guardia?" >> to make it look like trans continental airlines' business is a legitimate business, lou creates another fake company called cohen & siegel. they've got letterhead, signage, all the things that someone might be looking for if they were trying to say, "is this real? does this really exist?"
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>> it was called cohen & siegel because it was named after the famous gangsters, mickey cohen and bugsy siegel. >> it didn't exist. it merely was a location where his mail was sent. and the calls were forwarded to him. >> all you had to do was look at that cohen & siegel financial statement. you knew that it was not prepared by a cpa. it was just pure b.s. >> any time we see the representation coming from one of lou's companies that the fdic or aig or lloyd's of london was insuring it, we knew right then it was a fraud. >> time and time again, there wasn't any kernel of truth to anything whatsoever. and it actually got to be easier for us to think and just assume everything is fraudulent. >> lou was really good about keeping investors in the know. he was using these financial statements from cohen & siegel to make investors feel like they were informed. a classic hallmark of a ponzi scheme. >> a ponzi scheme is simply an investment scheme in which money
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from the new investors is used to pay off the old investors so you're able to keep the thing going. the people who are running these schemes just take the money for themselves. lou just transferred the money directly to his own bank accounts. >> the very nature of a ponzi scheme is he just has to keep going. the idea is if the shark doesn't keep swimming, if the shark doesn't keep eating, the shark dies. >> it was hard not to think about pearlman and what he had done in comparison to madoff. they're both terrible crimes that have victimized countless numbers of individuals. >> i think when you cut to the core, it's the same plan, except that bernie madoff targeted very wealthy people. well, my clients were retired, this was their only cushion for the rest of their lives. so this was a devastating loss to them. >> prosecutors have all the evidence they think they need to throw the book at lou pearlman. the only problem is that he's not in the united states.
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>> we issued our criminal complaint early march of '07. we had no clue where he was at. where he was going. nothing. >> finding lou pearlman was like looking for where's waldo. we wanted to have him make a mistake. and so we would follow up on the leads where we could. and then we got lucky. this case was a circus from a media perspective. >> one of the people who did a lot of good coverage was helen huntley from "the st. petersburg times." somebody who read helen's articles was in bali, indonesia. >> i had no idea where lou pearlman was. and just out of the blue, getting this email, so i thought it was pretty exciting. one day, i got an email from this german tourist who was there in bali, who said that he thought he had seen lou pearlman there. he did a little research on the internet. and he knew that there was a lot of trouble surrounding lou.
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i asked him if i could forward his email to scott skinner in the fbi. and he said yes. so i did. >> and in the meantime, i'm on the phone to our agents in jakarta. they went down to bali. and the german tourist went to take the picture of lou pearlman. >> the next morning, thorsten takes this picture of lou eating breakfast there in the resort. and the two guys on the side of the picture are actually the fbi agents. they are there in the hotel coffee shop with lou. >> he was getting close to running out of money. and he certainly ran out of time. >> the fbi did not have jurisdiction to arrest him. but in an effort to cooperate, lou agreed to accompany them to guam, which of course is a united states possession where he could be arrested by the fbi. >> he knows that we've got him. he knows we got him good. >> a tip came from indonesia
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that pearlman was at a hotel in the bali tourist district of nusa dua. he was caught with $10,000 cash. >> people everywhere knew who lou pearlman was. you had all the people, all the reporters and everything else. he knew what he was facing. >> after we arrest him, okay, and he was just completely lying to us. it just never stopped for him. we told him, "you need to tell the truth." >> the biggest question -- where is that money? where is he hiding it? and has it already been spent? ts hal's heart. it's been broken. and put back together. this is also hal's heart. and this is hal's relief, knowing he's covered. this is hal's heart. and it's beating better than ever. this is what medicare from blue cross blue shield does for hal. and with easy access to quality healthcare, imagine what we can do for you. this is the benefit of blue.
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♪ federal authorities have
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bene searching for multimillion dollar music mogul lou pearlman after an arrest warrant was issued on march 2nd. pearlman was uncooperative with u.s. probation officers, failing to answer any questions and instead invoking his fifth amendment rights. >> accused con man lou pearlman seemed somewhat somber as he left the orlando federal court house late in the afternoon. >> when lou got caught, he went from wearing a $250,000 rolex on his wrist to wearing handcuffs on both wrists. >> lou pearlman has left this trail of destruction. he's stolen $100 million from banks and from over 1,000 individual investors, these are retirees, he's stolen more than $300 million. >> for over 20 years, mr. pearlman, he'd gotten away with it. >> it's very doubtful that we'll recover 100% back in this case. >> he had made things up. he had made up an accounting firm. he'd made up a bank. and no one had ever caught him. so from his perspective, "well,
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why now? can't i just talk my way out of it?" but he couldn't talk his way out of it with me and the agents, because we had the evidence. we knew about the lies, and we knew about the deception. >> i was the federal public defender in orlando, florida, at the time that lou was arrested. one of the things we often say in my business is, i wish i was his lawyer before i was appointed. i think lou needed somebody to tell him no. i also think that lou thought to himself that he would make everybody whole. what got away from him is he didn't ever find a way to make that work. >> i could have emptied the federal criminal code charging him with different violations. we looked at the harm he caused. he pled guilty to conspiracy to commit bank fraud. money laundering. bankruptcy fraud. he was ordered to also pay $300 million in restitution and to pay a $200 million forfeiture judgment. he was sentenced to 25 years in federal prison. >> we believe there are
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significant assets that could be recovered. >> lou gets this unusual option from the judge. he's told if you can bring back money, maybe that you've stashed away overseas, for every million dollars you return to victims, you'll get a month shaved off of your prison sentence. >> i think mr. pearlman might've misinterpreted what the judge was really getting at. mr. pearlman's thoughts immediately went to, "oh, i want to have a reality show in jail." >> by creating a boy band in a tv show called "jailhouse rock" or something like that. >> he wanted to recreate "making the band," which was his hit tv show back in the early 2000s with o-town. >> how old are you? >> 19. ♪ and the rocket's >> that's high. sorry. >> there's this woman, emily dorsett, who reads about lou pearlman's story and thinks to herself, you know, "this guy could actually teach me a thing or two about starting a boy band."
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and she thinks, "i could help him with his comeback." so she gets on a plane and travels to meet him in the federal prison. >> it was nerve-racking. i flew from california to florida. and we just got to know each other. he had been in prison for about two years. he was very upbeat. he basically just wanted to get back to work and create a new band. he was giving me ideas on who to contact in the business to see if they were interested in doing that. >> lou was in prison trying to put together a tv show. what? still in prison and still [ bleep ]. >> lou decided to start up a christmas choir inside prison. he held auditions like he would have for any boy band, except these were all white-collar criminals. every christmas, they would sing carols for the gathered inmates and staff. lou never really came up with any of the money. any of the money that he took was burned through, not just to upkeep a lavish lifestyle of
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rolls royces and mansions, but also to promote these bands until they became successful. >> lou never got to realize his dream of creating one more boy band. he died in prison. he died of heart failure in 2016. he was 62. >> when i heard that lou pearlman had passed away, i was so confused on exactly how to feel. >> man. ♪ yeah-h-h ♪ i've been searchin' ♪ ♪ a-searchin' ♪ ♪ oh, yeah ♪ searchin' every which way ♪ (laughing) no! ♪ yeah-yeah, oh, yeah
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when i heard that lou pearlman had passed away, i was so confused on exactly how to feel. i'm like, "how could you die right now when, like, we don't have this closure? you need to apologize." >> you don't picture that guy taking his blimp money and starting a musical revolution. the part where he ends up being a con man and dies in prison? that part you kind of believe. but the stuff in between is crazy. >> he always believed that his idea was going to win. whatever it was, however ridiculous it was, he felt like
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he could make it happen. that man was, like, holy in my mind. >> i feel glad i knew lou. i don't know where i'd be without him. so you have to give him that credit. >> i doubt, you know, there would've been a band without him. but the work that was put into it? i mean, i almost died for this band. pretty sure the other four guys would say the same thing. we are the band. i created this thing, not lou. >> i don't feel like he's responsible for my career. but i know that there's other members of my band who feel conflicted, because we have a career because of this band that he put together. but he also is a disgusting human being on so many levels. >> i thought about it for years. what i could have done different. nothing. i'm happy where i'm at. i'm still doing what i love. >> he is what he is, and he gave us our start. if he would have just done it right, and not have been greedy, he could have gone down as one of the greatest music people ever.
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>> he could get anything he wanted. i feel bad for him. i feel like he's just a miserable person who wanted all these things, and then got them, and is still miserable. >> for folks here in central florida who were just trying to make it day to day and trusted him with their savings, the outrage is still there. the hurt is still there. their money is gone. >> lou pearlman stole from so many innocent people, ruined their lives. he's got what he deserved. >> lou pearlman was a con man. he was a con man when he was in the aviation business. when he was in the music business, he was a con man, when he was in the investment business. how else should we remember him as anything other than a con man? >> and the courts certainly agreed. >> no question about that. to learn more about the bands
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a and artists, go to our wewewewe i'm david muir. >> and i'm amy robach. from all of us at abc news, good night.
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