Monday, April 30, 2007

A New Opportunity for Alberto Gonzalez?

Re-formed Menudo holds auditions in New York

(Reuters) The Latin boy band Menudo is coming back, and scores of teenagers turned out on Saturday to audition at the last of four nationwide open calls in hopes of becoming the next Ricky Martin.

About 100 would-be pop stars sang a cappella in both English and Spanish for a shot at becoming one of the five new members of the reformed Menudo, which first performed in 1977, enjoyed its heyday in the 1980s, changed its name to MDO in 1997 and disbanded in 2003.

The group was known for "retiring" its members when they hit age 16, or their voice or height changed too much. Current candidates must be at least 15 but appear younger than 19.

"There were some who are really talented," said Jeff Weiner, the group's managing partner during the auditions at a shopping mall in the New York City borough of Queens. Previous tryouts were held in Dallas, Miami and Los Angeles.

"It will be a real treat to see them again at the finals" on May 23, he said, adding that Miami and New York seemed to have produced the strongest candidates.

In a scene that recalled a greatly scaled-down version of the early audition episodes of the hit television show "American Idol," singers performed before a panel of two male judges and one female. The Temptation's "My Girl" was the most popular choice from the list of five pre-approved songs.

And like the "American Idol" aspirants, they ranged from flat out flat and awkward, to stylishly confident vocalists. "C'mon, put your hands together!" one exhorted onlookers and supporters who gathered in the mall's food court for the show, which was taped for a reality television show called "The Road to Menudo" featuring the 12 finalists and airing later this year.

The group, whose most famous alumnus is pop star Ricky Martin, will have an Epic Records contract with the first single due out this year. It will be co-managed by Johnny Wright, who has managed Justin Timberlake, Janet Jackson and the Backstreet Boys.

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