LOS ANGELES – You might think Lindsay Lohan is using the U.K. boy band The Wanted to take her mind off her problems, and get her out of the country, while they're at it. The troubled star had been hanging out with the band's singer Max George for the past few weeks, before up and getting on a plane with the band and flying to London this past weekend.
But some PR pros tell FOX411's Pop Tarts column that it may be The Wanted who is using one of America's most wanted, with the group using the publicity magnet Lohan to up their street cred in the U.S.
Across the pond, The Wanted have been prompting tweens to scream and sob since their self-titled album debuted two years ago, but in the U.S., the band is only just finding its footing. And until they were linked to Lohan's latest late-night club crisis, many here had never heard of them.
It all started when Lohan, 26, allegedly got herself into a physical altercation with a fellow patron around 4:00 am at a nightclub on Nov. 29 after she thought she was getting too close to George, 24. Earlier that evening, Lohan had watched The Wanted open for Justin Bieber in New York City.
Lohan was arrested for assault, and after being released from jail, has rarely left the band's side, behaving more like a rock groupie then an actress with several criminal charges and big tax problems hanging over her head.
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A prominent industry insider told us that Scooter Braun, The Wanted’s manager, is typically pretty “cagey” and knew Lohan long before The Wanted surfaced on the scene.
“Lindsay and Max could have met through overlapping social circles, but the bar fight and such could be totally staged, or perhaps even manipulated without her knowledge,” the source speculated. “If that's the case, a savvy manger could make the most of it, and it would look like what we see now: Lohan's a groupie."
The band has not been reticent in talking about their newest fan to the press, either.
“She can party, like, nearly as hard as we can. We had a big night on The Box where Ed Sheeran (fellow English singer) came with us and a few of our mates as well,” George enthused to reporters at Z100’s Jingle Ball in New York last Friday, while band mate Siva Kaneswaren chimed in that “she’s nice to have around.”
The band also discussed the night Lohan allegedly struck the clubgoer, calling it “a blur” before referring to the actress as a “sweetheart.” And during an interview on New York radio station Z100, George again remarked, “I think we’ve proved to ourselves, if we can stay out of trouble and keep her (Lohan) out of trouble this week, then we’re obviously outstanding citizens of the community, and we’ve managed to do both, so I’m quite proud of that.”
This week, Lohan was snapped strategically stroking George’s knee, hugging him, strolling alongside the band, and another member, Jay McGuiness, has been spotted donning a “Free Lindsay” shirt following her nightclub arrest.
“There are a lot of acts that occupy an aesthetic space similar to The Wanted. As far as resorting to her, I've heard that any press is good press... And you don't just need a starlet, you need a mess,” remarked Jed Smith of Beta Fish Music. “The paparazzi may seek out notable faces, but they froth at one that might embarrass herself or give them a before picture when she might catch a DUI, or get in a fight, or invoke some fresh PR hell. Rolling to a spot with Lohan guarantees a lot of shots and a lot of coverage, right?”
However, Lohan may want to caution herself before she falls too head-over-heels for the pop prince.
"I do think there is sometimes value in unknowns attaching to larger brands even if they are somewhat tainted. Clearly The Wanted can attract media attention via a connection to Lindsay Lohan,” noted Ronn Torossian, President & CEO of 5W Public Relations. “Lohan doesn't gain much, but she may be so far gone she may be oblivious to the whole thing. Lohan may not even realize the degree to which she is being used."
According to public relations expert Lisa Elia, the added attention might be a two-way street.
“The bright light of the media that Lindsay Lohan is bringing to The Wanted should help them become more known to people who would not necessarily have known about them previously. With all the Lindsay Lohan attention around them, people will become curious about who they are. Undoubtedly, more people will then be curious enough to listen to their music, some people will buy it, and some people will develop crushes on the handsome Max George,” she said. “The way that Max George and The Wanted are positioning their relationship (and Max' relationship) with Lindsay, it appears to be casual. If anything, Max and the group seem to try to provide a stabilizing force in Lindsay's life.”
And let’s not forget that a few years ago, Lohan attempted her own bubblegum pop career – releasing club-popular singles such as “Confessions of a Broken Heart (Daughter to Father)” and “Bossy.” Coincidentally, or perhaps not-so-coincidentally, the music video released in 2006 for the Lindsay hit “Rumors” (not to be confused with the classic Fleetwood Mac album) featured a model with a striking resemblance to current squeeze George. And yes, they too got it on in a club setting.
Life imitating art?
Reps for Lohan and The Wanted did not respond to a request for comment.
Hollie McKay has been a FoxNews.com staff reporter since 2007. She has reported extensively from the Middle East on the rise and fall of terrorist groups such as ISIS in Iraq. Follow her on twitter at @holliesmckay