Jonas Career Makeover: Can Reality TV Reboot the Bros? (ANALYSIS)

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Nick Jonas' potential new gig as a judge on American Idol may just be the tip of the iceberg for a new phase in the careers of the Jonas Brothers. All three of the singing siblings may find their showbiz sell-by dates extended by their ventures into reality TV.

Besides Nick's possible job on TV's biggest reality competition, there was also Joe Jonas' recent stint as a celebrity bachelor on Fox's The Choice. And there's E!'s new celebreality series Married to Jonas (debuting Aug. 19), which will focus mostly on Kevin and Danielle Jonas' marriage but will also feature all three brothers as they create new music for the trio's reunion.

Could moving into reality TV be a smart move for a group who, as they age out of the boy-band sweet spot (replaced by younger stars like One Direction and Wanted), may want to reach a new audience and reconnect with the initial fans who may have outgrown them? More broadly, could they be creating a template for career longevity for tween icons whose stardom usually has a built-in expiration date?

See how the experts rate the Jonas brothers' TV prospects.

Mind you, this is assuming Nick Jonas even gets the Idol job, which is by no means a done deal. In fact, Jonas' enthusiastic Twitter touting of his candidacy probably means he's a long shot, said TVLine.com Senior Editor and Idol expert Michael Slezak. "When you've tweeted it, you're probably less in the running than you think you are," Slezak told Celebuzz, noting that Jonas may be running afoul of the Fox network and the show's creators, who prefer to release such information on their own timetable. "It's a savvy move to get himself free publicity, but not if he actually wants the job."

Still, even if Nick doesn't end up telling Idol contestants how pitchy they are, the brothers will still have ties to Idol host and reality mini-mogul Ryan Seacrest, who's producing Married to Jonas. "An association with Ryan Seacrest is never a bad thing," Slezak said. "If you're good to Ryan, hopefully he'll be good to you."

Actually, there is an earlier model of success for tween-music heartthrobs to transition into non-musical fame via reality TV: Nick Lachey and Jessica Simpson. "They showed that the celebreality route can be the best path to a second career," Slezak said.

But reality TV could take the Jonases away from their first career, as it did Simpson. "The risk for the Jonas Brothers is that these commitments take them further and further away from what drew fans to them in the first place: music," said Hollywood Reporter music editor Shirley Halperin. "Look at Jessica Simpson, who was a singer, then turned reality star (on a very similarly-themed reality show) -- she was never able to regain her music following. Although she found a new calling in fashion." Then again, Simpson and Lachey seem to have found the trade-off worthwhile, Slezak said. "They're not on the Billboard charts anymore, but they're still making pretty good money, and they're still very present. So for Kevin, that makes sense."

On the other hand, if the Jonases make a point of using reality TV as a way to return to music stardom (as seems to be the case with Married to Jonas), that can be a smart strategy, experts say. In an age of declining radio and MTV exposure for musicians, reality TV may prove an ideal platform, at least for pop singers. "The traditional objection to music stars going on realty TV is a loss of credibility," said Michael Hirschorn, founder of Ish Entertainment and a veteran creator of celebreality shows. "For stars who are pop or boy-band whose sell was commercial from the beginning, reality TV is just and extension of that. it is a good way to extend your brand or to sell records. It is arguably the only effective way now to break thru the clutter."

"Reality TV is a great way to extend your 15 minutes in that it keeps you in the public eye and presents the star in a different context," agreed Halperin. "It's increasingly tough for acts to market their music. If you can find an audience of 6 or 7 million, or even 3 or 4 million, that's not such a bad gig," Slezak said. Besides, the Jonases are not Wilson Phillips, trying to revive a long-dormant musical brand."They're not that far removed from their heyday," he said.
Plus, if Nick gets on Idol, he could emulate other judges who've made musical comebacks. "Idol really turned it around for J. Lo," Slezak said. "Her career was resuscitated overnight," agreed Hirschorn.
Ultimately, whether reality TV helps or hurts the brothers depends on execution, Slezak said. It's OK for celebreality stars to be funny or even weird as long as they don't come off as "desperate." That's the word Slezak used to describe Joe's stint on The Choice. Of the three brothers' attempts at TV fame, "that was the most ill-advised," Slezak said.

Whatever happens, the group's initial die-hard fanbase will probably stick with them, as fans have for another brotherly trio, Hanson, "that has held onto its core audience and kept the fans satisfied even through changes in popular music, marriages, kids, and various label deals," Halperin said. But that group of early adopters can't increase; it can only shrink. "A  teen audience can grow with you, but in age, not necessarily in size," she said.

The difficulty for the Jonas Brothers may be in developing distinct identities for audiences who don't know the trio. "One challenge for them is differentiating themselves from each other," Slezak said. Can all three of them find success? "It's always hard for everybody to have the same level of post-teen heartthrob success."

 

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Kevin Jonas and Danielle Deleasa attending the Alice + Olivia Fall 2012 Presentation during Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week at Center 548 in New York City
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Discuss

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  • viola
    viola

    I think its a smart move.I love the new Kevin and Danielle show.Finally a reality show that is not based in crazy,dumb ppl in their late 20s or 30s (Jersey shore) or a rich fucked up family (the kardashians) but a normal,sweet and nice family like the Jonas'.All this reality show are just a warm up for the big finally this year when their new album comes out #JB2012 cant wait

  • AG
    AG

    Joe has a warm, sexy, wonderful singing voice. He is perfect to mentor for singing, performing, and living with fame.

  • JannaLee
    JannaLee

    The Next sounds like another Idol wanna be. And Joe really shouldn't be giving anyone advice on singing. Married to Jonas sounds like an attempt to make Kevin and his wife famous. At least if Nick did Idol, it would be a show that really had an audience and is credible. Overall though, I'd have to say reality TV will hurt them more than it helps.

  • Hannah
    Hannah

    I hope Nick gets the Idol job.

  • Brandy
    Brandy

    The Next is different. Joe along with Nelly, John Rich, and Gloria Estefan will mentor contestants who are already on the brink of stardom. There aren't any crazy auditions. No wading through tone deaf people to find talent. These artists are famous locally. They have talent. They just need that one chance to cross into the big time.

  • Angela
    Angela

    This story is missing key facts: Joe Jonas has been taping for months a cool talent mentoring show w/ Nelly, Gloria Estefan and John Rich (produced by Queen Latifah) and it premiers this Thursday night (8/16) on the CW Network. They have gotten into the lives (funny personal stuff) and offered them advice and the live audiences at tapings picked a winner from major cities. Now America starts voting and these guys are good performers who already have followings in their cities but looking for national exposure. Second, Joe did The Choice for fun along with lots of other young, single famous men.Third, despite the constant assumptions by media, these guys have many college aged and older fans.

  • Janette Zimmerman
    Janette Zimmerman

    This is why I hate reality TV. You think someone's career has run it's course, but then someone gives them a show. It's impossible to get rid of someone you don't care about.

  • mia
    mia

    Sorry, still not interested.

  • joejonasmusicFR
    joejonasmusicFR

    It's not really like the other music shows. I usually don't watch them. The mentors get to spend 3 days in the life of their contestants who are confirmed artists in their own cities but need a little help to be known. From what I've seen so far from the taping, it will be a very entertaining and funny show. It's not like a whole judging show.

  • mark
    mark

    I hope to hear more about the youngest brother. I saw him on Broadway and I was pleasantly surprised.

  • Mia
    Mia

    The Next? Do we really need a new music show? I think not.

  • joejonasmusicFR
    joejonasmusicFR

    "The Choice" was only one episode and only for fun. You could have mentioned Joe's new tv show "The Next" which has a really interesting concept. Joe will actually be mentoring new talented artists.

  • Netter
    Netter

    The reporter really over looked another important fact in this story. Joe Jonas is a mentor on the new CW show: The Next, which debut's on Thursday August 16. I think including this in the story will actually strengthen your story. Yes, Joe being on The Choice was an odd move, but it was a bit of fun for fans. His role on The Next is much more substantive and helps support the theory that the brothers turning to reality TV is to help strengthen their music career.