NEW YORK – Dogstar. P. The Bacon Brothers. 30 Odd Foot of Grunts.
You may not recognize these bands, but you’d certainly know the dreamy movie stars who play in them: Keanu Reeves, Johnny Depp, Kevin Bacon and Russell Crowe, respectively.
Even The Sopranos' Uncle Junior – played by Dominic Chianese – is trying to get into the act with his newly released CD, entitled Hits.
But since the Billboard charts can be far more unforgiving than the box office, history says it's not likely hard-core music fans will welcome them.
Some experts believe it's easier to travel from Grammy land to Oscar country than the other way around. Think of Frank Sinatra and "the Fresh Prince" Will Smith, two men who were established musicians before they embarked on successful acting careers.
"Musicians have an easier time on screen because almost anyone can read lines," said Geoff Boucher, a music writer at the Los Angeles Times. "They might not be able to do it well, but it's easier to hide when you're doing that than in the very public and very personal act of singing or making music."
Bands like Dogstar and the Bacon Brothers face skepticism because of earlier acts that have tried – and failed – to pave the road from screen acting to music. Consider the flop records done by Miami Vice star Don Johnson and comedian Eddie Murphy. Or Cybill Shepherd and Bruce Willis.
"There's a stigma attached when people try to make the crossover from acting to music," said Alex Pappademas, associate editor at the new music magazine Blender. "The fact that they're famous actors affords them the opportunity to do this, but I don't think they will explode. And it doesn't seem like they want to."
Michael Greene, president and CEO of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, which awards the Grammys, said the key is for stars to go with what they know.
"It is always a mistake when an actor moves too far out of character," he said. "It is also a mistake when they start taking themselves so musically seriously."
There's also a difference between stars who want true dual careers, like Smith and Jennifer Lopez, and actors who are just playing music for fun. Pappademas believes Keanu Reeves (who plays bass in Dogstar) and Kevin Bacon (who sings and plays guitar in The Bacon Brothers) are treating music as a hobby.
But some movie-star bands seem serious about their music. Dogstar hit the road in an ambitious 25-city "Dog Days of Summer" tour, P recently signed with Capitol Records, 30 Odd Foot of Grunts is still putting out CDs and the Bacon Brothers are releasing their third album, Can't Complain, on June 26, in conjunction with a coast-to-coast tour.
Reeves and Bacon have both indicated they are committed to their music, and hope to draw fans through their music, and not their fame. "We're trying to change that and make it about the band, not me," Reeves told Entertainment Weekly.
"When we first started, the people who attended our shows came strictly to see Kevin Bacon, the movie star," Michael Bacon said in a press release for the new album. "Now people come to see and hear the Bacon Brothers."
But let's face it. While pop stars and musicians are used to acting Hollywood-style – in MTV videos and in concerts – not all Tinseltown celebs have had much experience with making music.
"We have to be very careful, especially after that whole Milli Vanilli thing," Greene said. "You never have to pull movie acting off live. So you'd better be able to get up there and sing."
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