The Backstreet Boys were pegged as a bubblegum boy band for most of their teen pop careers, but their new documentary Backstreet Boys: Show ‘Em What You Got is showing the darker side of instant fame and life in the spotlight.
"We decided to just let cameras roll, to be honest and open and forthright," Kevin Richardson told ET’s Nancy O’Dell.
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The grown-up Boys, Richardson, Nick Carter, Brian Littrell, A.J. McLean, and Howie Dorough, sat down with O’Dell to talk more about the doc and life as teen icons. One major dark spot in the documentary is the band’s relationship with creator and manager Lou Pearlman, who created some of the most successful musical acts of the late ‘90s and early ‘00s, nearly all of whom eventually sued him for fraud. Pearlman was eventually jailed for conspiracy and money laundering after operating a massive Ponzi scheme.
"It's been sort of public knowledge since Lou went to prison," McLean says. "We've been asked in interviews here and there to touch on it. But never really as open and vulnerable as we were in the film."
The best-selling boy band in history alleges that Pearlman was taking over 78 percent of their income at the height of their success.
"Just to have him out of our contracts, we had to pay him like 30 million dollars," Dorough says. "He owned the name. It was a big mess."
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A sizeable portions of Perlman's early profits were used to create his next blockbuster boy band, ‘NSYNC, but the Backstreet Boys say they have no ill will towards their fellow pop icons.
"I believe it was a healthy rivalry that actually pushed each other," says Carter.
Nancy also asked the former teen stars about the struggles of growing up in the spotlight, referencing Justin Bieber's recent contrite apology for his "arrogant" behavior.
"I've gone through things like Bieber has before," Carter says. "There are similarities. I think you can [reboot your image] as long as you believe in yourself and what you're trying to do."
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Check out a deleted scene from the band’s documentary, Backstreet Boys: Show ‘Em What You’re Made Of, in the video below.