LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Could the Jonas Brothers become the next Beatles? Or merely the new Monkees?
The chart-topping teen idols, who elicit piercing shrieks from their young fans wherever they go, are starring in a Disney Channel series inspired by the Beatles’ movies as well as the zany American made-for-TV group the Monkees.
The Jonas siblings -- Kevin, 21, Joe, 19, and Nick, 16 -- will appear as themselves in the barely fictional comedy series “Jonas,” premiering on the cable channel in May.
The squeaky clean brothers, beloved by the young daughters of President-elect Barack Obama, play members of a popular band trying to live normal lives at a regular school, despite being trailed by throngs of ardent fans.
Described as a fusion of situation comedy and music video, the show also features hitherto unknown brother Frankie, 8, (known as the “bonus Jonas”) playing their younger brother.
The TV show originally was envisioned as a spy series, but producers said on Friday the concept was changed as the Jonas Brothers became a global teen phenomenon over the past 12 months.
“It’s hard not to make parallel comparisons to the Beatles in 1962 and 1963 when you see the kind of response that the Jonas Brothers’ fans have to them. It’s a force of nature,” executive producer Roger Schulman told reporters at a preview.
He said the Fab Four’s 1964 big-screen romp, “A Hard Day’s Night,” was “very much a template,” as was their 1965 follow-up, “Help!” Another inspiration was the Monkees, who spawned a short-lived series in the mid-1960s, delirious fans and a succession of hit singles.
“Any time you have a group of talented musicians who got along together, were kind of a family, and had a sort of air of being insubordinate and a little subversive, you can’t ignore that,” Schulman said.
The Jonas Brothers previously starred in the Disney Channel’s “Camp Rock,” which debuted last June and became one of the family-friendly network’s most successful TV movies with more than 100 million viewers worldwide.
But Nick Jonas said the transition to acting in a 21-episode series was daunting.
“This gives us a great opportunity to have acting and music involved,” he said. “Acting is something that’s totally different for us, and going into it we were pretty nervous.”
Disney said on Friday a “Camp Rock” sequel was already in the works. The “Jonas Brothers -- The 3D Concert Experience” feature film opens in the United States on February 27, three weeks after the Grammy Awards.
The brothers will vie for the coveted best new artist award, a prize that went to the Beatles in 1964.
As for the Obama girls, the Jonas Brothers revealed that Sasha, 7, and Malia, 10, had already fulfilled one of their dreams. The girls met the pop band in private last September after mother Michelle appeared on a TV talk show.
“They were very excited. It was very cool to meet them after knowing they were fans,” Nick Jonas said. “We played ping pong. They beat me!”
Editing by Dean Goodman and Peter Cooney